I don’t eat dessert often (I prefer a craft beer or glass of Cab over a piece of cake), so when I do crave dessert, I don’t want a substitute, pseudo-dessert. I want chocolate chip cookies over a chocolate chip cookie flavor protein bar or real ice cream rather than fat-free Froyo.
Although I want the real thing if I’m having dessert, I don’t mind tweaking the recipe to make my indulgence slightly healthier – especially during holidays such as Christmas or Valentine’s day, when I’m more likely to be eating richer foods than normal.
These ginger pear Greek yogurt cheesecake bars are a wonderful Valentine’s Day dessert – creamy, sweet, rich, yet lightened up. This cheesecake is light enough to have after a fancy dinner but indulgent enough for a special occasion.
While this cheesecake still includes cream cheese, sugar, and fat, the cream cheese is combined with Greek yogurt to reduce the calories and fat content while still maintaining a creamy texture. I slightly reduced the sugar, but since sugar places a key role in texture and rise for a cheesecake, I did not eliminate it.
Plain cheesecake tastes good, but I always prefer a bit of chocolate or fruit with my dessert. For a healthy and seasonal twist to a normal cheesecake, I added pears and a hint of ginger. As the cheesecake bakes, the pears release their sugars and are lightly caramelized. When combined with the subtle spice of ginger, the flavor is complex, sweet, and satisfying.
You can make this cheesecake with store-bought graham crackers, but making your own graham crackers will render this dessert even more delicious. I shared the recipe I use for homemade graham crackers in this post, and if you have molasses on hand, you can try this recipe from How Sweet Eats.
I’ll warn you: homemade graham crackers are far more addictively delicious than any store-bought brand. As in, you should make them into the cheesecake crust (let them cool first, of course) the day that you make them, otherwise there may not be enough left for a crust!
The best thing is about this cheesecake is that it doesn’t taste healthy, despite being lightened up with Greek yogurt, lower fat cream cheese, and While it doesn’t have the exact same taste and texture as a full-fat cream cheese based cheesecake, you will not be disappointed. This Greek yogurt cheesecake tastes decadent and has a smooth and creamy texture.
The second best thing about this cheesecake? You don’t need a springform pan! This recipe is made in a 9 x 13 inch ceramic baking pan (you can use glass as well or metal lined with parchment paper).
This recipe is one of the 16 apple and pear recipes I developed for Rainier Fruit’s Healthy Recipes and Healthy Habits e-Book! You can download this free e-book on the Rainier Fruit blog and receive recipes, healthy habit tips, and more.
- 2 cups of crushed graham crackers
- 2 tablespoon of unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted
- 2 cups plain Greek yogurt*
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened**
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 large pear
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Pulse 2 cups of crushed graham crackers in the food processor to form crumbs. Add the melted butter (or coconut oil) and pulse until combined.
- Firmly press the graham cracker crumbs into the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 inch pan and parbake for 5 minutes.
- While the crust is baking, combine the Greek yogurt, cream cheese, eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla, salt, and ginger in food processor or stand mixer, or mix them together by hand using a whisk until smooth.
- Pour the cheesecake batter into the pan and spread evenly.
- Core and thinly slice the pear. Gently place the pear slices on the cheesecake, with approximately ⅛ - ¼ of an inch between each slice.
- Bake the cheesecake for 40-45 minutes and check. If the cheesecake is not set in the center, bake for an additional 5 minutes.
- 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 cutting - otherwise, the crust may crumble. Slice into 12-16 rectangles and serve.
- Store covered in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- *I tested this recipe with 0% fat Greek yogurt. 2% or whole fat will produce a creamy cheesecake.
- **I tested this recipe with lower fat cream cheese. You can use regular cream cheese as well.
What’s your favorite dessert?
Do you prefer fruit or chocolate based dessert?