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Cook it light: Cheesecake can retain taste, feel — but minus fat

Dear Jeanne: This is my favorite cheesecake, but due to the fat content, I make it very rarely. Can you reduce the fat and maintain the taste? Thank you. — Jan Friedman, New Jersey

Dear Jan: This is a fabulous cheesecake, and I believe I've got a great revision. I wanted it to still have that rich, creamy feel, and this version has it. When recipes call for 1 teaspoon of grated lemon rind, I just use one lemon and don't bother measuring. It's much easier to grate it directly into the other ingredients, especially because some of the oils in the skin can be lost when transferring from one place to another, and that's where the flavor comes from. Try not to get any of the white pith, as it is bitter.


CHEESECAKE

1 cup sugar

2 pounds cream cheese

5 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon rind

Crust:

3/4 cup graham-cracker crumbs

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup melted butter

1. Mix the graham-cracker crumbs with the sugar and butter, then pat into a 9-inch springform pan. Cream the sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and lemon rind. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour, or until center is firm. Cool on a wire rack, then refrigerate until chilled. Makes 12 servings.


LOW-FAT CHEESECAKE

1/2 cup graham-cracker crumbs (about 4 whole)

2 packages (8 ounces each) Neufchatel cheese (reduced-fat cream cheese)

2 packages (8 ounces each) fat-free cream cheese

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

3 egg whites

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon rind

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place the graham-cracker crumbs in the pan and shake to coat the bottom evenly. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat all the cream cheese with the sugar until well-mixed and smooth. Add the eggs and whites one at a time, beating well after each one. Add the vanilla and lemon rind, and mix again. Pour the cheese mixture over the graham crackers and smooth the top.

3. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until lightly browned on top and the center is only slightly wobbly. Remove from the oven, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the sides, then cool on a rack. Then place the cake in the refrigerator to cool for several hours. Any cracks that develop are normal and can be covered with fresh fruit. Makes 12 servings.

Each serving contains approximately: Original Recipe: 422 calories; 33 gm fat; 171 mg cholesterol; 318 mg sodium; 25 gm carbohydrates; 8 gm protein; trace of fiber. Revised Recipe: 231 calories; 10 gm fat; 63 mg cholesterol; 402 mg sodium; 23 gm carbohydrates; 11 gm protein; trace of fiber.


Jeanne Jones is a consultant on menu planning, recipes and new-product development for major hotels and spas. She is also the author of 32 cookbooks, most recently "Jeanne Jones' Homestyle Cooking Made Healthy" (Rodale Press, $27.95). Send your recipe for revision to: Cook It Light, Deseret Morning News, P.O. Box 1212, La Jolla, CA 92038. Please include a stamped (60 cents), self-addressed envelope. © King Features Syndicate Inc.