• Kavita Sundaram

Who Said Boring, Healthy Breakfast Foods Could become Delicious Desserts? This Cheesecake Did.

Traditionally made from cream cheese, sour cream, whipped cream, butter, and sugar, cheesecake is one of the richest, heaviest, and most unhealthy desserts out there. Along with the base ingredients, elaborate cheesecakes with extravagant toppings and flavors can often exceed the daily recommended calorie intake in only one serving!

So, being a tragic cheesecake lover from a family of cheesecake haters (I know, I don’t understand it either), I wanted to make single serving, healthy, but delicious, cheesecakes. 

The first thing I did was find replacements for the three traditional components of a cheesecake — graham cracker crust, cream cheese filling, and creamy vanilla flavor—and figure out how to make the cake healthier and even tastier. 

The crust was the easiest to fix. Instead of crackers, I chose to make the crust with toasted, cinnamon flavored, caramelized oats. The cinnamon brings out the graham flavor and adds extra sweetness. This way, the same crunch and grittiness of graham crackers would be preserved while the oats would add a fibrous and healthier component.

I tossed some oats with brown sugar and freshly ground cinnamon and then toasted them.

I then blended the mixture together until it was a powder. I split this mixture in between four cupcake molds, and compressed the mixture to form a crust. 

Step 2: the cream cheese filling. To retain the classic cream cheese flavor, I knew I had to use some cream cheese in the recipe. However, instead of using traditional whipped cream or mascarpone cheese to add more creaminess, I substituted Greek yogurt. (Yay so healthy!) The thickness of the yogurt would ensure that the cake would keep its structure, as well as a creamy texture and taste. However, the added protein boost and lower fat content would make the cake far healthier. (Who doesn't love being able to stuff themselves with dessert when they know it's healthy?)

In a bowl, I whisked together cream cheese and Greek yogurt. The result was a very light and creamy mixture: decadent but not too filling. However, if you want a richer filling, lessen the amount of Greek yogurt and add more cream cheese or even heavy whipping cream.

The flavoring: I wanted the flavors to be fresh and delicate, so I decided on fig. I stirred fig jam into the mixture, as well as honey for additional sweetness. Keep in mind, if you want your cake to be sweeter, you can always add more jam or more honey. You could even switch the flavor completely and make it a vanilla, chocolate- my favorite-, or any other fruit flavor. 

I began spooning the mixture into my cupcake molds, which were already lined with the oat crust. Once the molds were filled, I added some fig jam to each cake, mixing it into the batter to create a beautiful marble effect. Finally, I sliced up some dried figs and put them on top of the cakes as decoration. 

Since the cake consists mainly of Greek yogurt, one of the most essential parts of this recipe is letting the cakes set. I would recommend keeping them in the fridge for at least 24 hours before eating, so that the filling can set completely and the sweetness from the figs is amplified. Letting them sit for two days will make them ever sweeter and richer, to the point where you won’t even be able to tell that it’s not “real cheesecake”. (Who needs “real cheesecake anyway when you have this?)

After the cakes had set, I added some mint for flavor and color, as well as a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar. 

The cheesecakes were everything I had hoped they would be: creamy, delicate, fresh, sweet, and the perfect texture for a cheesecake. While they weren’t quite as rich and heavy as most cheesecakes, I found it refreshing to have a lighter and healthier one which was equally delicious. As always, the cakes can be made richer and heavier simply by the addition of more cream cheese, some whipped cream, and less yogurt.

  The fig was the perfect touch, as it added its own sweetness and unique flavor to the cake. Overall, I was thrilled to be eating a scrumptious and unique dessert which I knew was extremely healthy. 

And as a side benefit, my mom had no choice but to let me make this dessert multiple times since we both know how healthy these cakes are!


Ingredients:

Crust:

  • ¾ cups rolled oats

  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon

Cheesecake Filling:

  • 2 tablespoons of plain cream cheese

  • 6 tablespoons of Greek Yogurt

  • 2 teaspoons of fig jam

  • 1 teaspoon of honey

Topping:

  • 2 sliced dried figs

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon sugar

  • 4 mint leaves


Recipe:

Crust:

  • Combine Oats with brown sugar and cinnamon and mix thoroughly. 

  • Toast mixture for 10 minutes at 360 degrees in an oven.

  • Blend until slightly powdery.

  • Press into cupcake molds and let sit.

Cheesecake Filling:

  • Mix cream cheese and greek yogurt until fully incorporated and creamy. 

  • Add in fig jam and honey and mix.

  • Spoon mixture into cupcakes molds and marble additional fig jam.

  • Place dried fig slaves on the cake surface for decoration.

  • Refrigerate for 24-48 hours.

  • Sprinkle cakes with cinnamon sugar and mint leaves.


Enjoy your healthy and delicious cheesecakes!



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