I’m a sucker for cheesecake. From the first day I was able to get my own food at the country club buffet, cheesecake was my choice. Chocolate cheesecake, that is. My five-year-old mouth watered every Sunday during the drive from church to brunch, which I equated with layers upon layers of the richest chocolate fillings you could imagine–some crumbly, some silky, some fudgy. And included in that chocolate monster was cheesecake, and lots of it. I devoured the dessert so fast that I didn’t pay attention to its contents, but, whether I knew it or not, my love affair with cheesecake had begun. Not long after my cheesecake-lovin’ took off, I began to hear, “Just eat half; you’ll get sick” or “Save some for me.” I may have been young, but I wasn’t dumb: I never got sick (at that age, at least) from too much, and there was a whole buffet table of huge slices that the rest of my family could have. Save some? Yeah, right. Sometimes I would politely say “ok,” wait for the disturbance of my cheesecake high to leave, then resume my mission to devour it. If I was feeling really obedient, I might leave a crumb or two, but never enough to satisfy the request. After a couple years I was able to translate those gentle commands to “Just eat half; you’ll get fat” or “Save some for me. I actually don’t want it, but you don’t need to eat all that fat and sugar.” And I still ignored the warnings for a while after that.
Eventually, as I grew up and took on a healthier lifestyle, some uber-rich foods, like most cheesecakes, did start making me feel sick. And after cutting back on sweets, the buckets of sugar packed into those decadent desserts became overwhelming. I gave up on cheesecake for a while, writing it off as an unhealthy food that would not make me feel good–neither physically nor about my diet choices.
One day, I decided to bring cheesecake back into my life, and the precursor to this recipe was born. After some minor tweaks, I hit the jackpot: perfectly sweet, velvety, ridiculously easy, and unbelievably healthy! You would never guess that a big slice of this decadent and rich-tasting cheesecake is just around 100 calories (plus toppings), a good source of protein, refined-sugar free, potentially gluten-free, and all-natural. SCORE!
Healthy Chocolate-Drizzled Cheesecake
For the crust:
- 3 graham crackers of choice (I use Annie’s Organic Cinnamon Graham Crackers)*
- 1 Tbsp (5 g) unsweetened dark or raw cacao powder (I use Navita’s Naturals)
- 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil (room temperature)
- 1 Tbsp milk
Crush graham crackers in a plastic baggy; add cacao and shake to combine. Then add coconut oil and massage bag until incorporated. Finally, add milk and thoroughly incorporate. Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper. Spread and press graham mixture evenly into the bottom.**
*For a gluten-free cheesecake, use a gluten-free graham cracker or cookie
**Don’t worry if the crust doesn’t pack together tightly! The cheesecake magically binds it as it bakes.
For the cheesecake:
- 1/2 cup (113 g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 4.5 oz (about 1/2 cup) reduced fat cream cheese
- 4.5 oz (1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp) 1% cottage cheese
- 2 egg whites
- 8-10 packets stevia (or equivalent to 5-7 Tbsp sugar)
- 2 tsp cornstarch (or flour)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Simply add all ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Pour evenly over prepared crust. Pop in the oven and bake at 350º for 20-25 minutes. Remove and cool about 30 minutes. Cover and transfer to fridge to chill at least another hour. After chilling, slice into 8 pieces.
Note: Cheesecake can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. For longer storage, the pieces freeze wonderfully! Simply wrap individual bars in plastic wrap, seal in a baggy or storage container, and freeze. Thaw in refrigerator several hours or overnight before eating.
1) Chocolate drizzle: For each serving, combine 1/2 – 1 Tbsp dark chocolate chips (or 1-2 squares chocolate bar of choice) and ~2 tsp milk in a small microwaveable bowl. Heat 10 seconds and stir until smooth. If too thick, add a tad more milk; if too thin, heat at 5 second intervals until it reaches your desired consistency.
2) Whipped topping of choice (homemade whipped cream or coconut whipped cream, So Delicious’s new Cocowhip, etc.)
3) Fresh or frozen berries to garnish, if desired
Savor every bite of your delectable, scrumptious, healthy (but who would know?) masterpiece!