Healthier Holiday Treats: Low Sugar Cheesecake Bars

Whenever my mom brought out the holiday cookie tray, the cheesecake bars were my favorite. Swirls of rich chocolate and velvety cream cheese paired with a cookie bar crust were irresistible. During the holidays, I still crave those decadent bars. I decided to remaster them by creating a low sugar cheesecake bar that had the same delicious flavors but half the sugar, so we can enjoy our holiday favorites in a healthier way.

These low sugar cheesecake bars are naturally sweetened with Medjool dates and just a touch of maple syrup. They are also lower in fat than traditional cheesecake bars thanks to Greek yogurt. They are still an indulgent treat, but you can feel good knowing they are well within your daily limit for added sugars. I hope you’ll add them to your holiday cookie lineup this year. They freeze well, so I’d highly recommend whipping up a batch this weekend and storing them in your freezer for making quick and easy cookie trays for all of your holiday gatherings.

low sugar cheesecake bars | jennifer tyler lee | 7.5x9-8715-min

Photo credit Erin Scott Photography

Low Sugar Cheesecake Bars

Makes 16 bars
Ours = 1 1/4 teaspoons
Theirs* = 5 teaspoons

These indulgent, low sugar cheesecake bars are as crave-worthy as the original, with a fraction of the sugar. To remaster this recipe, I started with the crust. Instead of a traditional graham cracker base, this recipe features a no added sugar date and walnut crust that adds plenty of flavor without sugar. Lowfat Greek yogurt subs in for some of the cream cheese to keep saturated fats in check. The combination is delicious and mimics the creaminess of traditional cheesecake, but in a healthier way. Dark chocolate chips add bits of chocolate-y flavor in every bite.

Crust
8oz Medjool dates, pitted (about 8 to 10 dates)
6oz shelled raw walnuts (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling
8oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
3oz dark chocolate chips

To make the crust:
1. Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper, leaving about 2 inches of overhang on each side. Spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Combine dates, walnuts, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until well blended and no pieces of dates remain.

3. Use your fingers to press the mixture into the prepared pan. Then, using a flat surface like the bottom of a glass or an offset spatula, press down until the mixture is firmly packed. Freeze until ready to use, at least 30 minutes.

To make the filling:
1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

2. Beat the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the yogurt and beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the maple syrup, eggs, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt and continue beating until smooth and no clumps of cream cheese remain, about 1 minute more. Stir in the chocolate chips.

3. Pour the filling on top of the frozen crust and spread into an even layer.

4. Bake until the edges are set, and the center only slightly jiggles, about 35 minutes. Check the cake at 25 minutes. If it’s beginning to brown too much, tent with foil.

5. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly, about 20 minutes. Then freeze until just chilled, about 15 to 20 minutes.

6. To slice, warm a knife under hot water and dry fully to ensure all water is removed. Cut into 16 squares. Serve cold. These bars can be tightly wrapped and stored in the freezer for up to a month. They’ll stay fresh in the refrigerator for one week.

*Based on King Arthur Flour’s Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bar Mix.

Nutrition Information:
Calories 210 | Added sugar: 1 1/4 teaspoons or 5g | Carbohydrates: 20g | Sodium: 276mg | Saturated fats: 21% of calories or 5g | Fiber: 3g | Protein: 5g

Low Sugar Cheesecake Bars
 
These indulgent, low sugar cheesecake bars are as crave-worthy as the original, with a fraction of the sugar. To remaster this recipe, I started with the crust. Instead of a traditional graham cracker base, this recipe features a no added sugar date and walnut crust that adds plenty of flavor without sugar. To keep saturated fats in check, lowfat Greek yogurt subs in for some of the cream cheese. The combination mimics the creaminess of traditional cheesecake. Dark chocolate chips add bits of chocolate-y flavor in every bite.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 16
Ingredients
Crust
  • 8oz Medjool dates, pitted (about 8 to 10 dates)
  • 6oz shelled raw walnuts (about 1½ cups)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Filling
  • 8oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3oz dark chocolate chips
Instructions
To make the crust:
  1. Line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper, leaving about 2 inches of overhang on each side. Spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Combine dates, walnuts and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until well blended and no pieces of dates remain.
  3. Use your fingers to press the mixture into prepared pan. Then, using a flat surface like the bottom of a glass or an offset spatula, press down until the mixture is firmly packed. Freeze until ready to use, at least 30 minutes.
To make the filling:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  2. Beat cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 1 minute. Add yogurt and beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add maple syrup, eggs, lemon juice, vanilla and salt and continue beating until smooth and no clumps of cream cheese remain, about 1 minute more. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  3. Pour filling on top of frozen crust and spread into an even layer.
  4. Bake until the edges are set, and the center only slightly jiggles, about 35 minutes. Check the cake at 25 minutes. If it’s beginning to brown too much, tent with foil.
  5. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly, about 20 minutes. Then freeze until just chilled, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. To slice, warm a knife under hot water and dry fully to ensure all water is removed. Cut into 16 squares. Serve cold. These bars can be tightly wrapped and stored in the freezer for up to a month. They’ll stay fresh in the refrigerator for one week.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 16 Calories: 210 Saturated fat: 21% of calories or 5g Carbohydrates: 20g Sugar: 1¼ teaspoons or 5g Sodium: 276mg Fiber: 3g Protein: 5g

 

By | 2018-11-28T23:08:23+00:00 November 20th, 2018|Desserts|0 Comments

About the Author:

Heralded by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution as “A mom and genius game creator helping kids eat fresh food!”, Jennifer Tyler Lee is an award-winning cookbook author, game creator, and healthy eating advocate. Jennifer has garnered national TV, radio, and print coverage for her family cookbook, The 52 New Foods Challenge, and her nutrition game, Crunch a Color®: The Healthy Eating Game. Jennifer’s work has been spotlighted by Jessica Alba, Michael Pollan, Jamie Oliver, Laurie David, Rachael Ray, US Weekly, The 700 Club, and Oprah.com—among many others. Her fresh approach to cooking together as a family inspired a nationwide series of kids cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma, The 52 New Foods Junior Chef Series, along with an exclusive edition of her book. A former strategy consultant, she lives in the Bay Area with her family.

Leave A Comment