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Love cheesecake? Learn how to lighten it up

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A love of cheesecake is easily soured when you look at what goes into it.

Many versions have 30 or even 40 grams of fat per slice and can call for a pound of full-fat cream cheese in addition to sour cream, half a dozen egg yolks and half a stick of butter, or more, in the crust.

Fortunately, it is possible to make a healthier _ yet still satisfying _ cheesecake. It’s just a matter of choosing the right ingredients.

This cafe mocha cheesecake is rich and velvety, yet has just two-thirds of the fat and half the calories of traditionally-made versions.

To lighten up the filling, full-fat cream cheese is swapped out for a mixture of pressed and pureed nonfat cottage cheese and reduced-fat Neufchatel cream cheese. An additional hit of creaminess comes from reduced-fat sour cream.

For a rich, chocolaty flavor, cocoa powder is used instead of semi-sweet chocolate. Cocoa powder contains only a small fraction of the fat of chocolate. Instant espresso powder and coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua, are added to enhance the flavor of the chocolate.

Finally, a light crust is made (without all the butter) by simply coating the bottom and sides of the pan with crushed chocolate wafer cookies. If you like, you could use plain or chocolate graham crackers instead.


Start to finish: 1 hour 25 minutes (25 minutes active), plus 5 hours cooling time

Servings: 16

6 chocolate wafer cookies or chocolate graham crackers

1 tablespoon plus 1 1/4 cups sugar

2 tablespoons instant espresso or dark roast coffee powder

2 1/2 tablespoons coffee liqueur, or water

2 cups nonfat cottage cheese

1 1/3 cups reduced-fat sour cream

12 ounces Neufchatel (reduced-fat cream cheese)

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 large eggs

2 large egg whites

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

Cocoa powder

Heat the oven to 300 F. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.

With a rolling pin or the bottom of a heavy skillet, crush the cookies into fine crumbs. In a small bowl, stir together the cookie crumbs with 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and tilt to coat the bottom and sides. Set aside.

In a small bowl, dissolve the espresso powder in the liqueur or water and set aside. Place the cottage cheese in a double layer of cheesecloth and gather the corners at the top. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

Place the drained cottage cheese in a food processor and process until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the sour cream, Neufchatel, flour, eggs, egg whites, cocoa, cinnamon, salt and the remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar and the dissolved espresso powder. Process until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the edges are set 1 inch from the sides but the center of the cake is still a bit wobbly. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake inside with the door closed for 30 minutes longer to continue cooking.

Set the cheesecake on a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before removing from the pan and serving. Just before serving, sprinkle lightly with cocoa powder.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 184 calories; 73 calories from fat (40 percent of total calories); 8 g fat (5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 50 mg cholesterol; 21 g carbohydrate; 8 g protein; 0 g fiber; 238 mg sodium.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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