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A Little Lighter Cheesecake

Kate makes birthdays even sweeter by baking.



Photo by Kate Sayre
Photo by Kate Sayre

I love birthdays and the opportunity to celebrate loved ones. We can all use a day each year where we feel extra special. Plus, as you’ve heard me say before, I’m a firm believer in calories not counting on your birthday and indulging in items you really enjoy.

You can imagine how excited I was when my sister Sarah asked if she and her fiance Dan could come to visit to celebrate her birthday. As it was a milestone year, I wanted to make an exceptional cake for her. She’s a big fan of cheesecake and raspberries, so in my research I stumbled upon the beautiful recipe below. Not only did it look tasty, but it was much more eye-catching than the typical plain version. Being in the nutrition field, I’m constantly looking at recipes to see how I can make them just a bit healthier. For this one, I went ahead and replaced half of the full-fat cream cheese for the lower fat Neufchatel option. The result was a light, creamy cake that we all happily consumed. To be honest, it was a birthday weekend, not just day, so we wanted to incorporate some balance!

Baker’s note: When making substitutions, try just one at a time. Then if your recipe doesn’t turn out quite right, you’ll know what caused it.


Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s adaption of Martha Stewart’s version



1 package (~200 grams) finely ground Leibniz butter biscuits

6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted

3 tablespoons (40 grams) granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon table salt

Raspberry Swirl

6 ounces (170 grams) fresh or thawed frozen raspberries

2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar


16 ounces regular cream cheese, very soft at room temperature

16 ounces Neufchatel cheese, very soft at room temperature

1 1/2 cups scant granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs, room temperature

Chocolate sauce for serving (optional)

1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy or whipping cream

4 ounces (115 grams) bittersweet chocolate


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Wrap exterior of a 10-inch springform pan (including base) tightly in a triple layer of foil; set aside. This will keep the water out of your cake when you’re baking in the water bath.
  2. Make crust: Stir together biscuit crumbs, melted butter, and sugar in a medium bowl. Press crumb mixture firmly into bottom of pan and up the sides to about 1-inch from the top of the pan. Bake until set, ~10 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
  3. Make raspberry sauce for swirl: Process raspberries with sugar in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pass puree through a fine sieve into a small bowl; discard solids. Set aside.
  4. Make cheesecake: Put cheeses in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar in a slow, steady stream; scrape down bowl. Add salt and vanilla; mix until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing each until just combined and scraping down the bowl. Pour cream cheese filling over crust.
  5. Using a piping bag with a tiny corner snipped off, place tiny droplets of raspberry sauce all over top of cake. Use a toothpick or skewer to swirl the sauce and filling together decoratively (in the picture, this is how I acheived the “30”).
  6. Bake cake: Set cake pan inside a large, shallow roasting pan. Transfer to oven. Carefully pour boiling water into roasting pan (I used my tea pot to do so) until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until cake is set but still slightly wobbly in center (like loose JELL-O), 60 to 65 minutes. A toothpick inserted near the center should not have wet, thin batter on it when removed
  7. Transfer cake pan to rack; let cake cool to room temperature then refrigerate, uncovered, at least 6 hours or overnight. Before unmolding, run a knife around edge of cake.
  8. Make chocolate sauce: Bring heavy cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, stir in chocolate until melted.
  9. Serve cake in wedges, with any leftover raspberry sauce, chocolate sauce, or both.

Just a reminder, my next blog will be on October 15th. I look forward to catching up with all of you then!



Kate Sayre is a Registered Dietitian who counsels clients through her private practice and works in the Department of Nutrition at UNC. On the 1st and 15th of every month, she guest blogs here.