The night before heading home last week, I carefully carried a paper plate brimming with brownies over to my friendly next-door neighbors. After quietly knocking, I heard Little C’s voice call out: “Is it Amy?” When his mom opened the door to greet me, he and Miss M, his older sister, rushed out in their PJs to say hi.
The four of us chatted on their front porch for a few minutes, occasionally interrupted by the 4- and 7-yeard old kids each running to their rooms to bring out a toy to show me. Little C demonstrated how his stuffed puppy actually barked and ran, while Miss M pointed out the big black wings on her Barbie-like Frankenstein’s daughter doll.
Eventually, Little C turned to his mom and revealed, “Amy let us go into her house last time! Can she come inside ours?”
The poor mother… She was just trying to read her children a few books before bed, but they decided that they’d rather spend that time talking to me!
She immediately invited me in, where her adorable kids continued to show me more pink-haired dolls, a Disney mash-up short story book (which I nearly borrowed for myself!), and a homemade pipe-cleaner tarantula. After admiring each one and discussing our fall moving plans with their mom, I finally politely excused myself so she could usher her children into bed.
Despite my stressed mood before stopping by—desserts to bake, dinner to make, dishes to wash, and a dog to walk—that tension immediately melted away with the kids’ parting hugs. They always brighten my day!
Just like these Skinny Lemon Gingersnap Cheesecake Bars will brighten yours! Each creamy square is packed with sunshiny citrus flavor, and the subtly spicy crust pairs with it perfectly. Even with their luscious texture and taste, these sweet treats are still low-calorie and packed with protein. In my world, they’re practically health food!
Although my guy rarely eats desserts, he can never resist lemon treats and spicy gingersnaps—that’s how this beautiful combination came to be! We both adore Trader Joe’s Ginger Cat Cookies, so I crushed those up for the base. I used 80 cookies, which produced about 1¼ cups of crumbs. To hold the crumbs together, I mixed in part melted butter and part applesauce, which helped lower the fat and calories. But with the strong ginger flavor, you can’t taste the applesauce at all!
Most of the flavor in the filling stems from lemon zest. Do NOT skip it! You’ll need a medium-sized lemon to obtain the 1 tablespoon of zest, but if you accidently grate a little more, add that in too. There’s never such a thing as too much of that bright sunshiny flavor!
I prefer my cheesecake on the sweeter side and with more vanilla flavor than cheese. I don’t want to feel as if I’m eating a bagel with schmear for dessert! I always add in more vanilla extract than many other recipes call for, and in these healthy bars, it perfectly complements the lemon and helps its summery flavor shine.
Just like with regular round cheesecakes, bake these bars just until the center barely jiggles when gently shaken. It’ll continue to cook through and set as it cools on your countertop. Please oh please, do not overbake them! They’ll turn out tough and rubbery instead of smooth and creamy the way we want our bars to be.
I haven’t tried it myself, but you could probably make these in individual muffin cups instead. Bake them at the same temperature, and start checking around 15-18 minutes. Either way—bars or cups—they’ll still need to chill for a few hours before serving. The waiting is painful, but the sweet reward is totally worth it!
These Skinny Lemon Gingersnap Cheesecake Bars taste just like summer: light, sunshiny and fun! As I bit into one, I immediately pictured myself sitting poolside under a palm tree with little kids splashing and giggling in the background. With their irresistible refreshing flavor and subtle ginger zing, that mental image just might become reality…
All of the men in my family request lemon desserts for their birthdays, and they have quite a few coming up during the summer season!