When we think of Valentine’s Day, our minds immediately go to chocolate. It is everywhere this time of year. Chocolate
roses, chocolate kisses, chocolate-covered strawberries, specialty chocolates in heart-shaped boxes and even chocolate in various shapes of the season. It is almost impossible to think of Valentine’s Day without some form of chocolate-covered, chocolate-filled or chocolate-dipped goodness.
With so many temptations, it is easy to see how this time of year makes it hard for healthy eaters to stay on track while still treating ourselves and our sweethearts to an indulgence or two.
I recently came across an old family recipe that I had forgotten all about — an easy, no-bake cheesecake. Although the original recipe was not a healthy one, I have revamped it so that it is a creamy, virtually fat-free delight. Since it is a no-bake cake, you can whip up this treat for your Valentine without slaving over a hot oven for hours.
The secret to this recipe is the fat-free cream cheese. If you can’t find fat-free, try using low-fat Neufchatel-style cheese, which typically is marked as “one-third less fat.”
Either way, the cream cheese needs to sit out at room temperature for a couple hours so that it gets nice and soft. If you neglect this step, your cream cheese will clump and leave you with an inconsistently-textured cake full of lumps and chunks of cream cheese. So make sure to follow this step. You will know it is ready when the cream cheese spreads easily using a knife.
Another essential step involves using fat-free sweetened condensed milk. Eagle brand makes a fat-free variety that I have used on occasion. Regular sweetened condensed milk is unhealthy and loaded with calories, fat and sugar. Therefore, the fat-free variety is a much healthier option.
This recipe also can be customized to your tastes. If you don’t want a chocolate cheesecake, simply omit the powdered cocoa. If you want to add almond flavor, stir in a few drops of almond extract during the last step of the mixing process. I could go on and on. What you add is up to you, but take care not to add too many flavor-boosters or toppings that could rack up lots of extra calories, sugar and fat.
The recipe is best paired with a fresh-fruit topping of either strawberries or raspberries. Just toss fresh or frozen berries with a little agave nectar, raw honey or sugar substitute and let sit until it makes a sauce. Spoon it over the cheesecake before serving.