These gluten free Lower Fat Strawberry Cheesecake Bars have a filling made with cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese that is baked on top of a buttery oatmeal crust.
It wasn’t more than a few weeks ago that I probably had at least 6 blocks of cream cheese in my fridge. I use it anywhere from baking, to cooking, to spreading. Cream cheese is purdy good!
Go figure the time I’m in the mood for some cheesecake, all I have left is one block. We all know you ain’t gonna make a cheesecake with only one block of cream cheese!
Or are you??? (dun, dun, dun!)
Usually if I don’t have ingredients to make a certain something, I just move on and make something else. A little disappointing, but certainly not the end of the world.
But this particular day, I NEEDED cheesecake. I don’t even remember why I had to have it (no, I’m not preggo), but I couldn’t get it off my mind.
So with only one block of cream cheese between both of my fridges, I figured I could probably pull off baking something like cheesecake bars with a thin layer of filling, rather than a heaping Cheesecake factory type cheesecake. Plus I figured that bars would be easier and faster (I really wanted cheesecake!), and I’m awwwwll about easy.
But still, even with just making bars, I needed more cream cheesiness. So instead of running out to the store, I added nonfat Greek yogurt and pureed lowfat cottage cheese to the filling. Not only did these substitutions cut down the fat of a traditional cheesecake by about a 1/3, but it tasted amazing as well!
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Probably the exact same thoughts as my 5 year old.
“Ewwww! Mommy, why are you putting COTTAGE CHEESE in our cheesecake????!”
Well, grow up will you?! You are not allowed to think the same thoughts as a 5 year old. So get over it. And I’ll tell you why.
I don’t even have a fancy pantsy food processor and I was able to puree the cottage cheese until it was silky smooth. It gives the filling the creaminess that it needs, takes place of the bit of salt you would add to an ordinary cheesecake, and it cuts down on the overall fat of the dessert. Win, win, win!
The filling of these Lower Fat Strawberry Cheesecake Bars was perfectly smooth, rich, sweet, tangy…basically everything that you expect a cheesecake-a-licious dessert to be.
But that’s not where this story ends. We’re not finished here.
I was also in the mood for something sweet with oats. Oatmeal cookies, granola, you name it.
I guess I could have busted out two different recipes at the same time, but that would have been a little absurd. I’m not that much of an overachiever. That’s getting a little crazy.
Instead I combined my two cravings by creating a sweet and buttery oatmeal crust for the bottom of the bars. This crust was so simple to make with just a few pulses in the food processor. Then you just stir in some old fashioned rolled oats with the dough and viola! You have yumminess galore.
I really was quite surprised at how delicious this crust was since I only used three different types of flours. If you are familiar with my baking, you know that I usually mix 4-5 varieties of gluten flours to achieve the best results. My laziness paid off in this recipe. Hallelujah!
The coconut flour is really important because it absorbs a lot of the moisture in the crust, creating a crisp shortbread like texture. But by adding the oats, you give the crust a bit of chew. It’s the perfect balance.
Now we could end right here and call it good. But again, there is more. I gotta keep you in some anticipation here.
Yep, strawberries are my last and final trick to this recipe. Everyone loves a good old strawberry cheesecake. So why not whip up a strawberry puree in the food processor and swirl it into the filling???
Okay, I did.
And even better, they were fresh, sweet strawberries instead of those white inside, “pucker up your lips because I’m so tart” kind of strawberries. You can always use frozen strawberries in place of fresh if you can’t find some acceptable produce.
This sauce recipe makes more than you will actually need for swirling, so keep the rest to drizzle on top or the bottom of the bars…that is if you don’t drink the rest of it first.
Braelyn was absolutely in love with these bars. Forget the fact that she kept referring to them as lemon bars, even though she clearly knows the difference between lemons and strawberries. But she literally inhaled this dessert. I’m really not even sure if she stopped to breathe in the 30 seconds that it took her to consume her “lemon bar”.
Guess cottage cheese isn’t that gross after all…
What are your various uses for cream cheese?
- For the Crust:
- ½ cup brown rice flour
- ¼ cup coconut flour
- ⅓ cup potato starch
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1 stick cold butter
- 1 cup gluten free old fashioned rolled oats
- For Cheesecake Filling:
- 1 cup lowfat cottage cheese
- 1 pack cream cheese, room temperature
- ½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt, room temperature
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon brown rice flour
- For Strawberry Swirl:
- 2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2-3 tablespoons sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease the bottom of a 9X13 baking dish. Set aside and begin making crust.
- In a food processor, combine brown rice flour, coconut flour, potato starch, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum. Pulse to combine all ingredients. Cut cold butter into 6-8 slabs and place in food processor. Pulse until little pea sized crumbs form in the dough. Pour crumbs into a small mixing bowl and add 1 cup of oats. Stir to combine. Pour dough into baking pan and press down firmly the mixture into bottom of pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes and remove.
- While crust is baking, prepare filling. Place cottage cheese in a food processor and puree on high speed until mixture in completely smooth. Add cream cheese, yogurt, eggs, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and brown rice flour to food processor. Turn on medium speed until mixture is smooth, making sure that cream cheese is soft enough tot mix throughout.
- Pour mixture over slightly cooled crust and begin making strawberry swirl. Add strawberries to food processor with lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Pulse until smooth. Taste and add additional tablespoon of sugar if desired for sweetness.
- Spoon about ¾ of strawberry puree randomly on top of cheesecake filling. Using a knife, swirl the strawberry and cheesecake mixture together into desired pattern, being careful to not over swirl. You do not want the two to completely mix.
- Return pan to oven and bake at 350 degrees for an additional 25 minutes or until filling barely jiggles.
- Remove pan from oven and allow to cool completely. Chill overnight for best results. Cut into bars with a sharp knife and serve with whipped cream and remaining strawberry puree (chill overnight as well).