18 dried white figs, stalk ends removed
1 cup crushed chocolate wafers
1 small butternut squash, to yield 2 cups cooked squash
4 envelopes unflavored gelatin, completely dissolved in 1 cup warmed water
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups 2 percent fat cottage cheese
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 heaping tablespoon orange zest, cut into strips, or 12 paper-thin orange slices


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds, places face down on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. Remove and let cool. Scoop 2 cups of the flesh out and puree for this recipe and freeze the rest for future use.
2. In a processor, pulse the figs and chocolate wafers until they clump together in a sticky ball - in about 30 seconds. Don't process too long or the crackers will lose their texture. Transfer to a small bowl and press the mass into a 7-inch springform pan.
3. In a blender, puree all the ingredients except the squash and yogurt until smooth and creamy - about 2 minutes, gradually increasing the speed. Stir if necessary to complete the incorporation. Turn this mixture into the reserved squash and stir thoroughly. Then fold in the yogurt until just combined.
4. Pour the filling into the prepared crust, pop into the refrigerator and chill until set - about 2 to 3 hours.
5. To serve: Unmold, slice with a warm knife and garnish each piece with orange zest or a thin orange slice.

Graham Kerr discovered that figs, which are a wonderful source of fiber, also make a no-fat binder for a cookie crust. You may use a 9-inch springform pan, but the crust will not reach all the way up the sides and the cheesecake will be thinner.

Butternut Squash Cheesecake
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