Jill is an avid reader and writer who recently celebrated seven years on HubPages.
Sweets for the Sweet
Ever since my dessert-loving husband was diagnosed with diabetes, I've struggled to create sweet treats that are both tasty and healthy for him to eat. I failed miserably with all sorts of cupcakes, including ones made with zucchini and chocolate, and earned a low C for pumpkin and chia pudding cakes. But this low-carb faux cheesecake made with Neufchâtel cheese was an immediate winner—for both of us.
The filling is light, creamy and bright; the crust has a sandy, satisfying texture; and the fruit topping is juicy and fresh. Although the strawberry version dresses up nicely for Valentine's Day, variations with seasonal fruit are also yummy.
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- 2/3 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup graham crackers, about 1/2 a sleeve
- 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup lite whipped cream topping
- 1 1/2 cups strawberries, stemmed and halved or chopped
- 2 tablespoons sugar-free strawberry jam
I used Smucker's sugar-free preserves, Giant brand Neufchâtel cheese, and Giant brand lite whipped topping.
Step 1: Make the Crust
- To make the crust, grind the first three ingredients in a blender.
- Add 1 tablespoon granulated sugar or brown sugar to the mixture.
- Stir in melted butter, then press the mixture into the bottom of an 8-inch square pan.
- Bake at 350°F until toasted, about 10 minutes.
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Step 2: Make the Filling
- While crust bakes, make the filling by beating sugar into softened Neufchâtel cheese.
- Next, beat in lemon juice and vanilla.
- Fold in lite whipping cream and set aside.
Step 3: Make the Topping
While the crust cools, make the fruit topping.
- First, soften strawberry jam in the microwave for about 15 seconds.
- Stir the warm jam into the strawberries.
Step 4: Put It All Together
- Spread the cheese mixture over the cooled crust.
- Top the cheese mixture with the strawberries.
- Decorate with more whipping cream as desired, then chill and serve.
- Use blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries and corresponding sugar-free jam.
- Substitute orange juice for lemon juice.
- Use fresh peaches and sugar-free peach preserves in lieu of strawberries, then substitute lemon extract for vanilla extract. Add ground cinnamon to the crust mixture.
- Use Splenda™ or some other brand of Stevia instead of granulated sugar in the cream cheese mixture. (Note: The filling will not be as fluffy and light.)
- Add 1 tablespoon brown sugar or Splenda™ brown sugar substitute to the crust in lieu of 1 tablespoon granulated sugar.
- Use light Philadelphia cream cheese instead of Neufchâtel.
Tips for Success
- Hold the Fruit Topping: If you're making the recipe ahead of time, reserve the fruit topping and spread it over the filling just before serving.
- Grind in Batches: Grind the nuts and graham crackers in small batches for a finer. easier grind. I used a Nutribullet.
- Pick Over the Fruit: Wash the strawberries well, removing stems, bruised spots and hard white bits. If using blueberries, be sure to pick over them carefully, removing all stems.
- Fold, Don't Beat: Don't beat the whipped cream into the Neufchâtel mixture: Fold it in. This will make the filling light and airy. To fold, take a small amount of the cream and gently whisk it into the filling to lighten up the mix. Then use a spatula to add the rest all at once or a bit at a time, turning it over in the cheese mixture until it's incorporated into the whole.
© 2018 Jill Spencer