Guiltless Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Squares with Raspberries

What causes a seemingly ordinary, commonplace experience  to live on and become legend –  told and then repeated again and again, slightly altered, lightly exaggerated – when family gathers?

Here is one from my family:  When we were young, my cousin Kristin and I were invited on 4-day vacation to Canada with our grandparents.  Our parents gave each of us a small stipend of cash to spend on souvenirs and other treats for the trip.  Strolling through beautiful Old Quebec City during our trip, we saw carriage rides, face-painting stations, lines of souvenir carts.  Endless options for spending that money!

We stopped for dinner and after eating, a dessert tray was wheeled out, overflowing with decadent deserts.  My cousin and I both wanted the cheesecake.  My grandfather encouraged us to order one slice to share.  Kristin and I, young and enticed by the tempting variety of sweets on that cart, were both sure we could each finish our own piece.

My grandfather proposed a wager: Kristin and I would both get our own slice of cheesecake.  If we could each finish the whole piece of cheesecake – not a crumb left – my grandfather would pay for the dessert.  If we were not able to finish, we would have to dip into our souvenir fund to pay for the dessert ourselves. Unwilling to part with the promise of the charm bracelets and face-painting awaiting us outside, we both finished our cheesecake slices.

We won the wager and yet – stuffed uncomfortably to the brim and slightly regretful and humbled – did we really win?

Maybe my family finds so much humor in that story because it reveals something of the brilliant contradictions at work in the soul of our much-loved grandfather. One of the generation that lived WWII and the Great Depression, he was diligently frugal – he refused to purchase anything new for himself if he hadn’t fully worn out the old item.  Yet, every Christmas, he bestowed extravagant gifts to each member of the family.  And he believed in tough love. Indeed, useful life lessons  – about appreciating the value of a dollar and using reason and experience to overcome feelings of greed – were learned by both my cousin and I that evening.

Sadly, my family lost my grandfather, ‘Pepere,’ this week after a battle with cancer.  But that story, along with many others, will undoubtedly live on indefinitely, told always with laughter.

This cheesecake recipe is in honor of my grandfather.

Here are all the ingredients you’ll need.

I love this recipe because it’s so much faster and easier to prepare than a traditional cheesecake (I should mention that there are about 1 1/2 hours of inactive time to allow the cheesecake to set).

It also cuts out all of the butter, nearly all of the white flour, and more than half the sugar of a traditional cheesecake. And it adds in healthy greek yogurt, canola oil, and whole wheat flour.

Begin by preparing the raspberries. Combine the raspberries and agave nectar in a small bowl.  Place in the fridge to allow the berries to macerate (soften and release their juices).

Substitutions:  you may substitute sugar or honey for the agave.

Even better: if you love the tart flavor of raspberries, just leave them unsweetened.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Separate the egg whites and discard the yolks.

Prepare the dough by combining the following in a food processor: all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, the egg whites, almond butter, cocoa powder, sugar, and canola oil.

After the dough is well-combined, press it along the bottom of an 8 X 8-inch casserole dish.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

Set on the counter to cool for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the filling.

Reduce the oven heat to 325 degrees F.

Quickly strain some nonfat plain Greek yogurt, just to get rid of any excess liquid.

I love replacing some of the cream cheese and eggs found in a traditional cheesecake with Greek yogurt.  It’s so low in calories with no fat.  And it sneaks healthy protein, calcium, and probiotics into your dessert. It’s so rich and creamy, you can’t taste any difference at all in the final cheesecake.

Combine the following in a large bowl: Neufchatel, the strained greek yogurt, sugar, cocoa powder, and an egg.

Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy using a hand mixer.

Carefully fold in some dark chocolate chips.

Adding cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips adds such a rich chocolatey flavor that you’re able to get away with using less than half the sugar used in a traditional cheesecake.

Spoon the filling over the baked crust.

Bake in the oven until the top becomes firm, about 20 minutes.

Set the cheesecake on the counter to cool to room temperature for at least half an hour.

Then place the cheesecake in the fridge for at least an hour to allow it to set completely.

Cut the cheesecake into 9 squares and serve, topping each one with the raspberries.

When my husband Chris tried these for the first time, I believe his words were, “There is no way that these can be healthy”  because they taste extremely rich and decadent.

The contrast of sweet flavors – from the crisp and crumbly crust, to the rich and creamy filling, to the slightly melted dark chocolate chips, to the fresh and tart raspberries – is heavenly.

The subtle hint of chocolatey deliciousness mixed into the tangy cream cheese filling is my favorite part.

These triple chocolate cheesecake squares place right up there among my favorite recipes.

Here is the complete recipe:

Guiltless Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Squares with Raspberries 

Total Time:  2 hours 20 minutes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Inactive: 1 hour 30 minutes

Yield: 9 squares

Ingredients
Crust
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 egg whites
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon almond butter
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar

 

Filling
1/2 cup strained plain nonfat Greek yogurt
12 ounces (1 1/2 packages) Neufchâtel low-fat cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

 

Fruit Topping
6 ounces raspberries
2 teaspoons agave nectar

 

Directions

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

 

Combine raspberries and agave nectar in a small bowl.  Store in the fridge, allowing the berries to macerate (release their juices).

 

Combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, egg whites, canola oil, almond butter, cocoa powder, and sugar in a food processor.  Pulse until the dough is well combined.  Carefully press the dough along the bottom of an  8 X 8-inch pan.  Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.  Set on the counter to cool for about 15 minutes.

 

In the meantime, prepare the filling.

 

Reduce the oven heat to 325 degrees F.

 

In a large bowl, combine strained Greek yogurt, Neufchâtel, sugar, egg, and cocoa powder.  Mix with a hand blender until filling is smooth and creamy. Using a spoon, carefully fold in dark chocolate chips.  Spoon filling over cooled crust. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.  Set on the counter to cool for at least 1/2 hour.

 

When the cheesecake has cooled and reached room temperature, refrigerate for at least one hour to allow the cheesecake to set.

 

Cut cheesecake into 9 squares.  Top each square with several of the sweetened raspberries.

 

 

In loving memory of my Pepere.

 

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27 Comments

  1. March 7, 2012 / 3:39 am

    Oh.
    My.
    Goodness.
    Seeing your posts always make me hungry! By the way, do you buy cocoa powder directly in the supermarket? I’ve always used baking chocolate, but that was what my recipes called for. What’s the difference, and can you substitute between cocoa powder and chocolate chips and baking chocolate?

    I’m sorry for your loss, your grandfather sounds like an amazing person. He thought of a good way to teach you a lesson without depriving you of dessert, too! Now that is genius 🙂

    • March 9, 2012 / 6:13 pm

      Thank you! You would def. want to use unsweetened cocoa powder in this recipe. You’ll find it in a canister in the baking isle at any grocery store 🙂

  2. March 7, 2012 / 5:04 am

    Two of my favourite flavours in one dessert! Chocolate and raspberries… how could I not try this one?

    So sorry for your loss. May memories like the one you shared here keep your Pepere close to your heart.

  3. March 7, 2012 / 7:35 am

    Sorry for hear that your sad news but as you know, he will be with you forever.. thank you for sharing your strory and beautiful cheese cake as well!

  4. March 7, 2012 / 12:52 pm

    You make such yummy sounding desserts! Scrumptious fits all you do.
    Joy

  5. March 7, 2012 / 1:15 pm

    Have to find somebody … that can make them to me *smile – could do with one now!

  6. Bert
    March 7, 2012 / 1:32 pm

    Your grandfather would be very proud of you and your blog today and how you’ve retold such an ageless and humorous family story, repeated time and time again at all family functions. And, it sounds like it was a lesson well learned! That would make him really happy.

    He was everything you mentioned here and more. He deeply loved all the members of his family and was always ready to help any of them in any way that he could. He worried more about them than himself and was mostly concerned about making sure that he was fair to every single one of them; even to the very end of his life.

    I should know; I was his son. Thank you for dedicating this to him. He would have loved to try a bite and possibly would have eaten the whole piece by himself.

    I’m very proud of you as well!

    Love,

    Your Dad

  7. March 7, 2012 / 2:05 pm

    The recipe looks absolutely delicious. My mouth is watering. Your site always makes me want to devour whatever you photograph.

    RIP your grandfather, he sounds like a great man. Sorry to hear of your loss.

  8. March 7, 2012 / 3:15 pm

    So sorry about your Papere! What a wonderful remembrance you have of him. And genius you, with the Greek yogurt! Can’t wait to try this!

  9. Stephanie
    March 7, 2012 / 4:38 pm

    A beautiful tribute to your grandfather.
    I will most definitely make this dessert. Looks so amazing and love all the healthy twists. Thank you!

  10. March 7, 2012 / 8:59 pm

    What a lovely post. I’m so sorry about your grandfather. It sounds like you have some wonderful memories of him!

  11. March 8, 2012 / 5:31 pm

    What a beautiful story about your grandfather! These cheesecake squares sound like the perfect tribute to him – anything triple chocolate is sure to be delicious.

  12. March 9, 2012 / 3:45 am

    What a nice tribute to your grandpa. Deepest sympathies to you and your family.

    I look forward to trying this recipe! Yum!

  13. March 9, 2012 / 6:16 pm

    Thanks to everyone for your sympathetic words and thoughts – I really appreciate your kindness.

  14. March 9, 2012 / 8:51 pm

    i am so sorry about the loss of your grandfather. You were blessed to know him and have such a wonderful relationship with him. I never knew either of my grandfathers because they both died before I was born. I know you will treasure the memory of yours.
    Joy

  15. March 10, 2012 / 12:57 pm

    Heather @ Sugar Dish Me passed along the Versatile Blogger Award and now I would like to pass it on to you because of the awesome work you are doing. Thank you for your funny and insightful posts! To accept this award, you need to do 2 things: share 7 things about yourself and pass the award on to 7 other bloggers. You can find more information on my blog yearofhealthierliving.wordpress.com. Congratulations!

  16. March 11, 2012 / 9:21 am

    After many years of being gone, I still miss my grandpa a lot. But I have similar stories like yours to share and this is exactly what keeps our loved ones alive in our hearts.

    The recipe sounds wonderful – how can berries + chocolate not be good? 🙂

  17. March 11, 2012 / 8:21 pm

    Greek yoghurt, chocolate and raspberries sounds like a perfect combination to me, can’t wait to try!

  18. March 11, 2012 / 9:04 pm

    Reblogged this on Très Doux and commented:
    Que delícia pra uma tarde de domingo chuvoso.

  19. sdrpullen
    March 12, 2012 / 7:27 am

    Reblogged this on A Blog About…. and commented:
    I SO want to make this !

  20. May 6, 2012 / 5:41 am

    Wow! These are so heavenly delicious! Greek yogurt sounds perfect & great idea for a cheesecake! Can’t wait to try it! Thanks for sharing! have a lovely day! 🙂

  21. Antoine
    August 2, 2012 / 3:28 pm

    Hi !
    Thank you for this recipe but also the nice pictures and very useful shots at every step.
    I just tried it and mine does not look as amazing as yours, so… I’d have a couple of questions / comments, if you could help!
    1) for the filling: I have not been able to have the top become “firm”. After 30min and even increasing the oven temperature does not make the top hard, as it looks like on your pic. is it actually sort of crusty?
    2) as living in France, I am not used to so-called “imperial” units, so I hope the conversion rates I found for cups/table spoon were correct. This might be a source of mistake from mine!
    3) I could not find an equivalent of “neufchatel cheese” – I have replaced with a product that is called “Philadelphia” (it is actually a brand), a sort of soft cheese. I wonder if you know this one and if it could be an acceptable ersatz.
    Thanks for your answer and again, well done for all the recipes, I will definitely try them out!
    Antoine

    • August 7, 2012 / 2:55 pm

      Hi there! Yes, “Philadelphia” Cream Cheese will work just fine. Two tips if the filling is not firming up: 1) swap out the yogurt and substitute extra Cream Cheese instead and 2) leave it to firm in the refrigerator for twice as long. Don’t try to adjust the oven temp or baking time – this is probably what is causing the filling to become crusty. Hopefully this helps – I know cheesecake can be challenging! But worth it when it turns out well 🙂

      • Antoine
        August 8, 2012 / 7:05 pm

        Hi Jen, thank you so much for the tips! 2nd attempt very soon 🙂 The very first version was not too bad, I’m sure the 2nd one will be perfect with your tips!

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