After our last set of finals in high school each year, my close friends and I would walk a couple of miles from campus to the shopping mall up the road, where we picked a place from the plethora of restaurants to eat, flip through yearbooks, and talk about summer vacation plans while sitting in the warm June sunshine. Those afternoons full of reminiscing and bellyaching laughs were always the perfect finish to the school year.
For our senior year, we chose one of the fanciest restaurants at the mall and arrived right as they opened to avoid the hour-long line normally associated with that chain. Tired of being cooped up in classrooms, we elected to sit at a table outside under the umbrellas.
At the end of the meal, nearly everyone else ordered a dessert from the extensive menu, but I politely declined, knowing that my parents probably planned on celebrating with an ice cream cake after dinner that evening. (It’s my mom’s favorite way to celebrate any graduation—elementary, middle, and high schools, and yes, college too!)
Since the restaurant was famous for it, one guy requested a slice of their traditional cheesecake with a side of fresh berries and whipped cream. When the plate arrived, I nearly gasped at the size of the piece—and sat in amazement as my friend polished it all off. I would’ve needed to run a half marathon to compensate for all of those decadent calories!
With my younger brother’s very special graduation quickly approaching, that cheesecake memory resurfaced. I thought that making a healthier version of it to serve alongside my mom’s favorite dessert would be the perfect way to celebrate, which resulted in these Skinny Raspberry Cheesecake Bars!
Let’s start with the graham cracker crust. Normally, all of those crumbs are held together by a stick or two of melted butter. No thank you! Instead, we’ll use just a tablespoon plus an egg white and a touch of milk for our lighter version. They bind together the crumbs without tasting greasy or heavy, and that simple swap shaves off quite a few calories too!
Now for everyone’s favorite part: the filling! It’s sweet, creamy, and packed with protein—basically a dessert lover’s dream come true. For the best texture, make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature before beginning. I know it’s hard to remember to set those bricks of cream cheese on the counter ahead of time, but I promise it’s worth it!
Unlike that slice that served as today’s inspiration, I decided to mix fresh Driscoll’s raspberries into the filling instead of simply serving them on top. I’ve been on a big fruit kick lately, so the more I can add to my treats, the better! Because the berries release juice while baking, we’ll add a little extra cornstarch to the filling to help the bars set.
The hardest part of baking cheesecake is always the waiting game at the end. The cheesecake bars need to chill for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator before slicing and serving to ensure that they set with the creamiest texture possible. It’s pure torture to spend an afternoon gazing at them on the shelves whenever I pull open the door, so I usually bake my cheesecakes at night so they can set overnight while I sleep!
But this creamy, fruity, protein-packed reward is always worth the wait!
|Skinny Raspberry Cheesecake Bars|| || |
Prep time: 25 minutes • Bake time: 35-38 minutes • Cool and chill time: 4 hours
- for the crust
- 7 sheets (109g) honey graham crackers
- 1 tbsp (14g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1 large egg white, room temperature
- 2 tbsp (30mL) nonfat milk
- for the filling
- 2 (8oz) blocks fat-free cream cheese, room temperature
- ½ cup (96g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg white, room temperature
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup (140g) fresh Driscoll’s raspberries, chopped (a little less than one 6oz package)
- Preheat the oven to 300°F, and lightly coat an 8”-square pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- To prepare the crust, add the graham crackers to a food processor or blender, and pulse until they’re fine crumbs. Add the crumbs to a bowl, and mix in the butter, egg white, and milk. Press the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake at 300°F for 8 minutes. Cool completely.
- To prepare the filling, beat the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in the egg white until just incorporated. Beat in the cornstarch and vanilla. Gently fold in the diced raspberries.
- Spread the filling on top of the cooled crust. Bake at 300°F for 27-30 minutes, or until the center only jiggles slightly. Cool completely to room temperature; then cover the top with plastic wrap, ensuring that the plastic completely touches the filling. Chill for at least 3 hours before slicing and serving.
This is a paid endorsement from Driscoll’s — visit www.driscolls.com for more berry recipes. As always, all text, opinions, photos, and recipe are my own.
Raspberries aren’t in season right now, can you I use frozen?
If you thaw and pat them dry, frozen raspberries should work. I hope you enjoy the cheesecake bars Lexie!
Woneda Cannady says...
These sound delish, however, how many servings per pan and how would you calculate these into weight watcher smart points? Thanks!
I really appreciate your interest in my recipe Woneda! The servings per pan is actually included directly underneath the recipe title in the recipe box (aka the “Yield!”), as well as in the Nutrition Information located directly underneath the recipe. I know it can be easy to miss! This is the Weight Watchers calculator that I use, and it’s been really accurate! 🙂 I can’t wait to hear what you think of these cheesecake bars!
Just made this for the first time and it is SO GOOD…I’m also not one to be able to make desserts look “pretty,” but it was so easy to make it look just like the picture. No one believes it’s so healthy!
I’m so glad you enjoyed the cheesecake bars Sarah! I’m sure yours looked even better than my photos! 🙂
These are great! However, I did run into an issue with the crust. I had to basically double the recipe to cover the bottom of an 8×8 pan. Not sure what I could have done wrong. Also my cheesecake thickness turned out a bit thinner that the pictures. YES I really used an 8×8 pan. Any ideas on where I went astray?
I’m glad you enjoyed the cheesecake bars Pete! That’s strange about the crust not yielding enough and the cheesecake being thinner… Both of those make it sound like your pan was slightly larger than an 8″-square. If it had rounded corners, it could be that those rounded corners added enough extra volume to the cake pan to cause the issues that you saw. (My 8″-square pan is perfect square with right angle corners. 🙂 )
I just made a batch of these! They are delicious! How many calories do you think are in each bar?
I’m so glad you enjoyed the cheesecake bars Rebecca! The full Nutrition Information for each of my recipes is included beneath the recipe box. 🙂
Deb C says...
While these might be low fat 1 serving is still 7 points on weight watchers
I’m not entirely sure where you’re getting that number Deb. I’ve calculated each serving (1 cheesecake bar, 16 bars in the pan) to be 4 Smart Points. Perhaps your calculation accounts for 2 bars per serving? 🙂 I’d love to hear what you think if you try the cheesecake bars!
After a 2 day power outage due to a storm early this week, I had been feeling pretty wore out- no water, electricity, and most importantly, OVEN. I am always baking goodies for my family so being on vacation for 5 days, then this power outage for 2 had me mixer-free for 7 days, whereas I normally rarely have less than two between a 5 dozen batch of chocolate chip cookies (can you imagine how many miles I have to run on the treadmill to stay in shape?)
So, when I finally got power back today, you can imagine how pumped I was when I finally got to make these bars I have been oogling over during vacation! The only thing I changed was that I left out the raspberries and made a low-sugar sauce with them since all I had was frozen raspberries. Thank you for this recipe, and all of your recipes, and for adding the nutritional information! I love every recipe of yours I have tried.
Oh my goodness Emma, that sounds crazy! Between your vacation and really long power outage, I don’t blame you for wanting to bake as soon as you could. I’m truly touched that you picked my recipe as your first treat to make, and I’m even happier that you loved them! Thank you for your kind words about my other recipes too — that means so much to me! 🙂
These look amazing, Amy! Do you think I could sub the egg whites for whole eggs? I wouldn’t have any use for just the yolks and don’t want to discard them, either.
I don’t recommend using a whole egg in the crust because that will make it soggy, but you may use a full egg in the filling. 🙂 I can’t wait to hear what you think of these cheesecake bars Sara!
These turned about perfect and they just right! Decadent, yet not too sweet and definitely worth the three hour wait!! Thank you so much for this recipe!!
I’m so glad you enjoyed these cheesecake bars Drea! That means a lot to me! 🙂
I put the filling in a store bought graham cracker pie crust. Baked for about 1 hour. Let chill over night then I melted some dark chocolate and drizzled it all over the top. Served with whipped cream. Deeeelish!
I’m so glad you enjoyed these cheesecake bars MJ! As a huge chocoholic, I love your idea of drizzling melted dark chocolate on top — yum! 🙂