“My” (Very) Slightly Lighter Red Velvet Cheesecake Recipe

Before I begin with the recipe, I have to reiterate two points made in the title:

  • This is not really “my” cheesecake recipe. I am simply lightening up this recipe by using lighter ingredients and using this frosting recipe instead of the one that they suggest.
  • This is not really “light” at all. It is simply not as EXTREMELY bad for me as the original would have been. This version has 300 calories per piece if you cut the cake into 12 pieces, and 450 calories if you cut the cake into 8 pieces. Ouch. Good thing I run a lot. I wanted to make the recipe a little less damaging, but still didn’t want it to taste like crap by taking out important ingredients.

Now, how did I “lighten” up the recipe?

Basically, I substituted ingredients. Here are all of the ingredients that I used. You might notice one notable omission, considering this is supposed to be a RED velvet cheesecake. Hint: it’s the red food coloring. Why did I decide to leave it out? Well, you might not know this but red food coloring has 10,000 calories per ounce. Ok, maybe I lied. Maybe it was that the recipe called for 2 bottle of it and it was $4 a bottle! I told my husband that he could just live with it being brown at that price. After all, red velvet cake is not just chocolate cake with red food coloring (like I once thought it was) – it is chocolate cake with gross stuff like vinegar and buttermilk in it that magically tastes good! Therefore, it should taste the same as a brown cake, but it won’t be as pretty. I’d splurge on the food coloring if I was taking this somewhere or having guests. I’d like to go over everything that I did and did not substitute:

  • I did use artificial sweetener instead of sugar. Kris and I have no qualms with artificial sweeteners, so I almost always do this when I bake (note: I have found it makes the texture of snickerdoodles weird, but Kris seems to prefer it). I use generic Splenda, but you could probably use something like Truvia if you wanted to cut calories but avoid the artificial sweeteners.
  • The chocolate graham crackers were sort of a substitution… yes, this recipe calls for them, but I had seen another recipe call for crushed up Oreos and I almost bought them because they were only 20 calories more per serving. However, the Oreos did have a lot more fat, and this thing is already going to be super fattening and the Oreos were more expensive and then there would be leftovers and Kris and I would eat them all (like, as soon as I finished using them for the cheesecake eat them all) so I decided against those.
  • I substituted greek yogurt for sour cream. I have never noticed a difference in using it instead in a recipe. I have, however, noticed a difference in using fat free sour cream. I think this is because fat free sour cream tastes like crap because sour cream is not supposed to be made that way and weird things have to happen to make it, but nonfat greek yogurt tastes ok because it can be made that way without tasting weird. I think it has to do with whether the item is inherently or artificially lower in fat. Or maybe it’s all in my head.  You may notice this is *gasp* not Chobani. This is because I discovered that the store brand at my store in PA tastes almost as good (I might give the store brand at school a second chance after this experience).
  • For a similar reason, I substituted neufchatel cheese for cream cheese. It is inherently lower in fat, so it just tastes better. It still makes up the bulk calories, though.
  • I did not substitute anything for confectioner’s sugar (powdered). This is because I do not know of anything that I could substitute. If anyone has any suggestions,they would be welcome!
  • I did not substitute anything for the eggs. I know a lot of people use just egg whites instead, but I like having regular eggs because I really don’t like scrambled eggs and I hate having both egg whites and regular eggs in the fridge. This is just me. I doubt it would save THAT many calories, anyway.
  • I guess I am technically substituting something else for butter (butter made with canola oil) but I don’t consider that a purposeful substitution – it was just the only  “butter” I had on hand. It only has 20 calories less per serving, anyway.
  • I did not substitute anything for necessary ingredients that don’t really have many calories anyway, such as vinegar, cocoa powder, and vanilla.

And in case you haven’t made a cheesecake before, here is a tip that the recipe does not mention: bake your cheesecake in a water bath! This will help to keep it from accidentally curdling while cooking (my cookbook explained to me why, but I forget). And how, exactly, you may ask, does one do this? What I do is I wrap the bottom of my springform pan in foil (so that water does not leak in) and then place it inside of a roasting pan filled partway with water. Here are a couple of pictures to show you what I mean:

Please excuse the state of my oven. Remember: I rent a super old house! I think this oven was the original from the previous tenant who lived here like 10-15 years.

I’ll tell you tomorrow how it turned out!


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