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Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream Easily Adaptable

By Bev Bennett Los Angeles Times Service

Sometimes I come across a recipe that is so fabulous and so easy that I make it again and again until it seems like my signature dish.

That’s the way I feel about Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream, a recipe from chef/owner Michel Richard of Citrus, a California/French restaurant in Los Angeles.

His basic ice cream recipe is milk, lemon juice, sugar and cream cheese. That’s it. No eggs. No cooking. Just blend the mixture and toss it in the ice cream machine. It tastes like a velvety smooth frozen cheesecake. I’ve even made it with milk and cream cheese that are fat-free and it’s still great.

Then there are the adaptations. This recipe can be as simple or sophisticated as desired. Add a little Grand Marnier to cut the sweetness and it becomes an adult ice cream. Top with a Raspberry Sauce and it’s elegant. Or, for a combination of crunchy and creamy, make a cookie crust and serve the recipe as a frozen cheesecake.

A few hints will help make this your special dessert as well. Blend the mixture using a portable mixer or a blender; it’s very difficult to get a smooth product using a food processor. If there are any lumps remaining, pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and discard the solids.

Adjust the lemon to taste; I prefer a slightly sharp lemon flavor and use grated lemon rind. It can be omitted. I also like the Grand Marnier, but it’s certainly optional.

Many ice creams improve if allowed to ripen in the freezer. No doubt this one would, too - but I’ve never been able to restrain myself long enough to find out.

Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier

2/3 cup sugar

8 ounces cream cheese

Raspberry Sauce, optional (recipe follows)

Mini Cheesecakes, optional (recipe follows)

Combine milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, Grand Marnier, sugar and cream cheese in blender or mixing bowl and blend until light and thick. Pour into bowl of ice cream machine and process according to manufacturer’s directions.

To serve, either scoop into bowls and top with Raspberry Sauce or create Mini Cheesecakes.

Yield: 4 (1/2-cup) servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 380 calories, 22 grams fat (52 percent fat calories), 6 grams protein, 40 grams carbohydrate, 71 milligrams cholesterol, 198 milligrams sodium.

Raspberry Sauce

1 cup fresh raspberries

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or orange juice

1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons sugar

Process raspberries until pulpy in blender or food processor. Add Grand Marnier and 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar. Process again until sugar dissolves into raspberries. Taste and add more sugar if desired.

Yield: About 2/3 cup sauce.

Nutrition information per 1/3 cup: 132 calories, 0.3 grams fat (2 percent fat calories), 1 gram protein, 25 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, no sodium.

Mini Cheesecakes

Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream (recipe above)

10 gingersnaps

1-1/2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon sugar

Prepare ice cream as directed and set aside in freezer.

Finely grind gingersnaps in food processor. Add melted butter and sugar and process 20 seconds to blend.

Reserve 4 teaspoons crumbs. Pat remainder on bottoms and up sides of 4 (8-ounce) custard cups. Spoon ice cream into prepared cups. Sprinkle remaining 4 teaspoons crumbs over ice cream. Either serve immediately or freeze up to 2 days.

Yield: 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 503 calories, 28 grams fat (50 percent fat calories), 7 grams protein, 57 grams carbohydrate, 82 milligrams cholesterol, 356 milligrams sodium.

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