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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tropical Cheesecake

Recently, my extended family had a Big Fat Loser contest. 25 of us joined up and paid $10 each - biggest loser take all! To make it a little more exciting, we did weekly challenges this time as a chance to earn bonus points. One challenge was to make a delicious AND low-fat cheesecake. My cheesecake came in 4th place. I shared it with a few sisters in my ward at a midweek Relief Society meeting, and they all thought it was delicious. I've been promising the recipe to them ever since, so here it is: A low-fat AND delicious cheesecake recipe.

What really makes this cheesecake special is the tropical fruit topping, with it's tangy and zesty flavors of fresh lime juice and fresh ginger.


1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup Splenda brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup melted Smart Balance spread
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted

In a small glass bowl, melt Smart Balance and chocolate together in microwave on high for one minute. Let that sit for a few minutes until completely melted. Meanwhile, crush graham crackers and combine with Splenda and nutmeg in a small bowl. When chocolate is melted, stir into dry ingredients. Press mixture into a lightly greased 9-inch springform pan. Place springform pan in freezer while you mix cheesecake filling.

Crust Variation: Use sugarfree gingersnaps instead of graham crackers.


2 8-ounce packages of reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup part-skim ricotta
1-1/4 cups Splenda
3 egg yolks
1 cup plain yogurt
3 T all purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 egg whites

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese with a wooden spoon until it is smooth and creamy. Slowly beat in the ricotta, then the egg yolks one by one. Continue to beat until thoroughly blended in. Beat in the Splenda. Add the yogurt, flour, and vanilla, stirring thoroughly after each addition. Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until they form stiff peaks. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture. Pour the filling into the lightly chilled pie shell and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 1 hour. Turn off oven and let the cheesecake sit in the oven with the door open for 15 minutes. Remove and let chill. Refrigerate for several hours to let it completely set up. Remove sides of pan before serving.

  • Mix ingredients in the order shown above. Splenda behaves very differently than sugar and you must not blend it into the cream cheese before you loosen the mixture by adding the ricotta and egg yolks. An experienced cook might think that the plain yogurt will add too much moisture to the cheesecake, but since Splenda adds no moisture (like sugar does), the yogurt is required to keep the cheesecake soft and smooth.
  • Use a wooden spoon instead of an electric mixer. If you incorporate too much air into the cheesecake filling, it will fall in the center as it cools.
  • Run a knife around the edge of the pan after baking to separate the cheesecake from the pan. This will prevent huge cracks from forming in the top of the cheesecake as it contracts and cools.

Ginger-Lime Pina Colada Topping:

1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple in unsweetened juice
1 cup coconut milk
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lime
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger root
1/2 cup Splenda
1/3 cup cornstarch

Combine Splenda, cornstarch, coconut milk and pineapple (with juice) in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until thickened. Peel ginger and grate with a microplane grater. Add ginger, lime zest and lime juice to the pineapple sauce.


  • The sauce may seem to be too thick at first, but when you add the fresh lime juice and grated ginger, it will thin down nicely.
  • Try adding freshly grated coconut to the sauce.

My niece teaches at a high school in rural Idaho. She asked the cooking teacher to having her class make all the cheesecakes, evaluate the nutritional content, and rate them on taste. Here are the nutrition facts for my cheesecake:

Nutrition facts:

Serving size 180 g
Calories 376 (regular cheesecake 578)
Calories from fat 144 (regular cheesecake 356)
Total Fat 15.9 g (regular cheesecake 39.6)
Saturated Fat 9.7 g (regular cheesecake 18)
Cholesterol 69 mg (regular cheesecake 99)
Sodium 296 mg (regular cheesecake 372)
Protein 8.8 g (regular cheesecake 9)

Okay, so it still has a lot of fat, but significantly less than regular cheesecake. Moderation is the key. :)

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