Sometimes patience is not my strongest virtue.
I’m totally the type of person who refreshes her email approximately 1000 times a hour when expecting an important email. I’m so much fun when it comes to waiting for acceptance letters, apartment applications, and the like. And let’s not forget all the times I nearly ruined a roast chicken or pie because I was too impatient to let it set.
I was going to save this recipe for the e-book that I’m slowly but surely developing, but I just could not wait that long to share it with you. Seriously, this Greek yogurt cheesecake is just too good to wait for however many months it is until I release the e-book. And you need to make it now, or as soon as humanly possible.
More times than not, I will choose regular cake over cheesecake. I love cake (although as I get older all the sugar does not love me back as much). When there was cake everywhere during my last week of college, I was practically in heaven, minus the whole waiting for grad schools to get back to me so I could actually know what I was doing after graduation. And I actually ask Ryan when we go to family or friends’ events if there will be cake.
Easter, of course, is no exception to cake. I mean, it’s the biggest feast day of the year…and I take that literally. Even though I don’t give up sweets for Lent and only skip out on meat on Fridays, each Easter I pile up my plate with lamb, ham, or whatever we have (turkey this year!) and then eagerly dig into dessert. Last year we had carrot cake, and that delicious cake didn’t stand a chance.
This year, with my race coming up so soon, I didn’t want to gorge myself on sugar and butter so soon before toeing the starting line. I eat as bland as possible the week before a race, including less vegetables, less beer, and no spicy foods. In order to strike a balance between celebrating Easter and preparing my stomach for racing 13.1 miles, I wanted a healthy, lower-sugar, lower-fat version of dessert that, well, didn’t taste as if it had less sugar and less fat.
The idea of Greek yogurt cheesecake had been floating around my food-obsessed mind for a while now, so I decided to make that. I think the last time I made cheesecake was in graduate school, when a professor mentioned Guinness chocolate stout cheesecake and I could not get it out of my head until I made it. I didn’t want heavy cheesecake this time; I wanted fluffy, slightly sweet, creamy cheesecake.
Greek yogurt in the Norris household is what ice cream is in other households. It’s our go-to dessert when mixed with sliced bananas, a dash of cinnamon, and a small drizzle of maple syrup. It’s so creamy with just the perfect amount of sweetness to satisfy a sweet tooth without overdosing on sugar. Charlie goes pug-obsessive over Greek yogurt and will greedily lick clean the nearly-empty containers we give him.
Greek yogurt, though, is low in calories, packed with protein, calcium, and stomach-loving probiotics, so it’s a natural choice for when you want to make something healthy but keep a creamy texture. In the cheesecake, it provides that creamy, fluffy texture and mimics the tangy taste of cream cheese. This Greek yogurt cheesecake tastes just like traditional cheesecake. Actually, scratch that, it tastes better.
In addition to using Greek yogurt to replace ⅔ of the cream cheese, I also lowered the amount of sugar, used less eggs, and only used butter to bind together the crust.
Speaking of the crust, I made homemade whole wheat graham crackers and ground those up in the food processor. Before you shake your head at me, if I can make homemade graham crackers, so can you. They take a bit of extra time with chilling the dough and rolling it out, but it’s honestly not any different than the time spent on sugar or other cut-out cookies. You can use store-bought graham crackers and achieve similar results.
- 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 5 tablespoon of cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (use 3 if sweeter cookie is desired)
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups of graham crackers, crushed
- 2 tablespoon of unsalted butter, melted
- 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
- 8 oz. lower fat (Neufchatel) cream cheese
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Combine the dry ingredients in a food processor.
- Add the butter to the food processor and pulse until it forms coarse crumbs.
- Add the maple syrup, milk, and vanilla and blend until a dough forms.
- Chill for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Roll out to desired thickness and cut into cookies.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies, or until golden brown.
- Let the cookies cool at least 30 minutes before making crust.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Pulse 2 cups of crushed graham crackers in the food processor to form crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse until combined.
- Firmly press the graham cracker crumbs into the bottom of a greased springform pan and parbake for 5 minutes.
- While the crust is baking, combine the remaining ingredients in food processor or mix them together by hand using a whisk until smooth.
- Pour the cheesecake batter into the pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until set in the center.
- Remove the cheesecake from the oven and immediately cover with foil, as this will cool the cake gradually and prevent the top from cracking.
- Let set for at least three hours before serving.
- I used 0% fat Greek yogurt; you can use 2% or full fat for an even creamier cheesecake.
- As the baking of time of cheesecake can vary depending upon the quirks of each oven, keep an eye on your cheesecake starting at 40 minutes.
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