Lite Little Cheesecake Bites

This weekend my extended family was able to gather for the Easter holiday for the first time in a few years.  We all met at my nieces and everyone brought a  little something for the Sunday brunch.  I was tasked with “sweet breakfast treats”.

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I’m not exactly sure what that meant, but I took it to mean I had a lot of latitude in how I accomplished this goal.  After the heavier food of the winter I wanted to lighten and brighten this idea.  Cupcakes just didn’t seem right.  I knew it would be a buffet so making the treats in individual portions seemed the way to go.  I could make muffin sized cheesecakes, but I wanted to keep them on the light side.

I used a technique I have had great success with on my cheesecakes.  I use light cream cheese in combination with vanilla nonfat greek yogurt.  What you get is great flavor, but far fewer calories.  I made two kinds.  A straight forward vanilla cheesecake with a fresh strawberry topping and a chocolate chip one with toasted coconut topping.

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Both were a big hit.  I actually felt kind of bad because they went so quickly that some folks didn’t get one.  And some of them that did get them sort of tortured the others with “how good they were”.  You know how families can be.  I’m not sure they were as good as the guys carried on about them said, but they sure had fun teasing their female cousins who missed out.

You’ll need:

Makes 24 muffin size cheesecakes

for the crust:

2 cups of gingersnap cookies (I used gluten free for a special someone in the group)

4 Tbs (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

 

for the batter:

2-8oz packages of lite cream cheese (neufchatel cheese), softened

16 oz vanilla, non-fat Greek yogurt

1/2 cup raw sugar

3 eggs

Bittersweet Chocolate chips ( I like Ghiradelli)

Mango-orange fruit spread (whatever flavor you like is fine)

fresh strawberries (one for each serving)

fresh mint (optional-but so pretty)

1 cup  flaked unsweetened coconut-toasted (see note below)

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Preheat oven to 325F.

Line your muffin tins with parchment paper muffin papers.  Set aside.

In your food processor, pulse your gingersnaps until broken down into crumbles.  With the machine running pour in the melted butter and process for about 30 secs or so.

Place spoonfuls of the cookie crumbs into the paper liners.  I used little dixie cups (small 3 oz paper cups) to press the cookie crumbs into a flat layer.

In your electric mixer, combine the lite cream cheese, yogurt and sugar.  Beat until well combined.  Add the 3 eggs and beat again.  Using a 1/2 cup measure scoop, fill your muffin papers almost full.  To 1/2 of them, add about 10 (or more) chocolate chips each.

Bake for 25 minutes until center is just barely set.  Remove and allow to cool completely.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to help them set completely.

To garnish-

For the plan cheesecakes, top each one with a spoonful of your favorite fruit spread.  Slice washed, hulled strawberries into 3-4 pieces.  Fan out over the top.  Add a sprig of fresh mint if desired.

For the chocolate chip cheesecakes.  Spread a small amount of vanilla yogurt over the top (helps the coconut flakes to stay in place).  Sprinkle with toasted coconut.  NOTE: to toast coconut, just spread a cup of coconut flakes on a clean cookie sheet and bake for about 5-10 minutes in the same oven (at 325 F) right after you finish taking the little cheesecakes out.  Keep an eye on this.  They can go from white to toasted pretty quick!

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Refrigerate until 30 minutes before serving.  Expect many smiling faces and happy tummies.  Enjoy!

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