Irish Summer Thunder and Raspberry Chocolate Cheesecake

The Irish heat wave has shrugged off the idea of endless summer and has instead replaced the days with majestic clouds and thunderstorms that flirt, but never stay.
Imagine if we could all be this happy, all the time.
This melodramatic weather is an acceptable substitute; we sit up here on our hill, messing around in the kitchen, building walls during the dry times, and playing backgammon as we watch the clouds move out over the Irish countryside.
My bedroom window: the best place to be in Ireland
The pretty day getting sucked into the storm
Every home should have a weather-watching window.
The leprechauns are treating us right.
Our time in little Durrow town is drawing to a close and I can feel the sentimentality creeping up on me a bit more each day. I've fallen in love with two little kids and to be honest, it may be the first time this has happened to me. Maybe it's because they're gingers.

At any rate, leaving will be hard.

(but softened by the fact that we're heading to Italy).
The drizzle avoids our sunset with John, Artie & Max
The water hole with Flo & Artie during our sunny streak
I suppose that in the manner older people often do, I try to influence the kids here and there. They're young, malleable. Take your dog on walks, eat fruit, read Harry Potter, etc. One topic that consistently arises is my goading them into eating less sugar (because as it stands, it's a lot). Despite that, fresh raspberries have gotten the better of me and I've been talked into making a raspberry cheesecake.
Our bounty from Fruitlawn Gardens (see above link)
When in doubt: Hose them.
But don't think that I'm completely caving into producing some sugary, cholesterol-laden spectacle. This is going to be a healthy raspberry cheesecake. Or at least as healthy as can be without sacrificing flavor. And there is going to be chocolate. Obviously.

The fear of my impending visit to a land whose diet is based on wine and pasta is upon me. For one, gluten makes me feel listless and lethargic and bloated in the days after I eat it (hello, pasta land). For two, wine is like adult sugar juice, so on top of gluten-induced lethargy, I am going to be fighting the weight gain that sugary alcohol so eagerly bestows upon our human systems.

Of course, I could refrain from pasta and wine. But it's Italy. You only live once.
Speaking of living only once, how about that time a couple days ago that John surprised me with Bruce Springsteen tickets in nearby Kilkenny for my birthday??
Getting back to my point, I am trying to prepare myself by eating as healthy as possible now (in a place where, ahem, the food and wine isn't quite as renowned...). Which is why even the dessert must have some sort of nutritional benefit.
It worked! My health tactics worked!
stay out of the shadows, my friend
In this recipe, I substitute tons of cream cheese with yogurt and an avocado, I use a small amount of honey, and dark chocolate keeps things more antioxidant rich and doesn't add extra sugar. The almond crust is sugar-and-butter-less, not to mention that it's amazing. At the end of the day, this is one of the healthier desserts you could imagine without actually imagining that it's healthy. Oh, and it's gluten-free. Bam!
Perhaps a bit undercooked, but deliciously creamy as a result. You can see how I threw the berries on the bottom before pouring the cream mixture on top. Super easy, and you can add as many or few berries as you want.
Healthy Raspberry Chocolate Cheesecake
Ingredients
Crust:
200 grams ground almonds (substitute any nut here, I used 150g almonds and 50g flax)
3 tbsp EVOO
1 large egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
Optional: 2 tbsp sugar

Cheesecake:
16oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 ripe avocado
3 eggs
6oz or3/4 cup dark chocolate
1/2 cup local honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 to 2 cups raspberries

Directions
For crust:
Preheat oven to 350/180 Fahrenheit/Celsius

Combine baking soda, almonds, salt, and sugar (if using). Add egg and oil and hand mix. If mixture is too sticky, place in freezer for 5-10 minutes, then press into bottom of a 9-inch springform baking pan using your fingers and a spatula. It doesn't have to be perfect, but make sure the edges are strong.

Bake 10-15 minutes until golden, especially on the edges.
Ah, the joys of fluorescent lighting. This is the cooked crust with lovely golden edges 
Nothing like sunlight hitting a cheese/avocado/yogurt/chocolate/raspberry cake.
Meanwhile, the cheesecake:
Keep oven at 350/180

Melt chocolate over double boiler. Once melted, add honey and stir. Set aside.

In electric mixer turned to high speed, beat avocado until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until there are no lumps. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until just incorporated. Reduce speed to medium. Add yogurt until incorporated, then slowly pour in chocolate/honey combination while mixer is running and stop when incorporated.

Spread raspberries over crust (you could also fold them into the cheesecake mixture), then pour cheesecake mixture on top.

In order to cook the cheesecake evenly, we're going to bain-marie that shit. It sounds hard—it's not. Find a large, deep baking dish that you can place the springform pan into. Fill the pan about half-way with hot water, but not so much that it will spill over the edges once you place the cheesecake in it. Wrap the base of the cheesecake pan in aluminum foil to prevent water from seeping in, and place it in the water/large pan, then carefully place everything in the oven. You can also put the cheesecake in the larger pan, place it in the oven, and then fill the large pan with water if you're worried about spilling while moving it.

Bake 55-65 minutes until top is set, but still jiggly. Turn the oven off and leave everything in there for an hour. Remove and cool 3-4 hours before eating.
One of the best things about this recipe is that you basically have to add chocolate to cover the greenish color that the cake would have because of the avocado. Sweet, sweet justice.
Garnish with fresh raspberries, and once the cake is at room temperature you can sprinkle on some cinnamon or powdered sugar.

In other news, now that it's our final week, we're going to soak up this now-wet Irish summer with as much gusto as possible, pay a final visit to our favorite local town, Kilkenny, visit a scarecrow festival, and show Flo and Artie what real pudding is all about. Stay tuned!

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