Home ยป Reduced Fat Meyer Lemon Cheesecake

Reduced Fat Meyer Lemon Cheesecake


When I think about my dream job, I can’t help but consider the dream of blogging full-time. One thing I never get sick of is food and writing…and you! However, that dream job wouldn’t pay the bills.

So instead I go to a job (that luckily, I do enjoy!) and take parts of my blogging with me…in the form of food.

On Tuesday, I had the rare opportunity to be home from work by 3pm and had nothing better to do than stall from doing something productive like cleaning, or grading, or working out.


Unless juicing a lot of lemons is a workout, I failed (somewhat kidding – I did manage a sad and pathetic workout on my injured ankle before calling it quits for a few days). You give me a few spare hours and I manage to create a mess of my kitchen and a cheesecake I could hardly withstand waiting to set.

I thought I had heard once upon a time, in some place I can’t seem to recall, that making cheesecake was simple? If this recipe is any parallel framework for cheesecake recipes, I can officially say they are time-consuming…but worth every second of effort and patience. The effort came much more easily than the patience…trust me.


So this cheesecake was ready yesterday morning. Finally. And I just had a feeling that it couldn’t stick around my house for any length of time. In other words, this thing had to go before it was gone.

But I certainly couldn’t serve something to my coworkers that I hadn’t yet tried. (Or photographed. Hello, early morning hour blog photograph!)

We’ve all heard that saying…do as I say, not as I do, right?

Well, do that. Because this cheesecake was breakfast. Oooops.


I had just a sliver. And it was just as delicious at 6:30am as it could’ve been at any other time.

I cut another piece and wrapped it up for Mr. Prevention. The man loves lemon, despite his claims to not like cheesecake. (It likely goes without saying that he loved this).

Me and my cheesecake headed to the clinic and lunch at my clinic was probably the highlight of my coworker’s days. I have to assume my co-worker’s raves weren’t a stretch. It’s hard to combine butter, sugar, animal crackers, cream cheese, and Meyer lemons and come up with anything less than stellar.

Employee of the day award goes to…the cheesecake (which was left at work for OTHERS to enjoy!).



Reduced Fat Meyer Lemon Cheesecake lightened up just a bit from Carnal Dish

Cookie-Crumb Crust:
5 oz animal crackers
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and kept warm

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 Tbsp grated meyer lemon zest
1/4 cup meyer lemon juice
1 1/2 lb reduced fat cream cheese (three 8-oz packages), at room temperature
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup whipping cream

Meyer Lemon Curd*:
1/3 cup meyer lemon juice
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
1 Tbsp whipping cream
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch table salt


To make the crust, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 F. In food processor, process cookies to fine, even crumbs. Add sugar and pulse to  incorporate. Add warm melted butter in slow, steady stream while pulsing; pulse until mixture is evenly moistened and resembles wet sand. Transfer mixture to 9-inch springform pan; using bottom of ramekin or dry measuring cup, press firmly and evenly into pan bottom. Bake until fragrant and golden brown, 16 to 18 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 30 minutes. When cool, wrap outside of pan with two 18-inch square pieces heavy-duty foil; set springform pan in roasting pan.

While crust is cooling, make the filling. Process 1/4 cup sugar and meyer lemon zest in food processor until sugar is yellow and zest is broken down, scraping down bowl if necessary. Transfer lemon sugar to small bowl; stir in remaining 1 cup sugar.

In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on low to break up and soften. With machine running, add sugar mixture in slow steady stream; increase speed to medium and continue to beat until mixture is creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Reduce speed to medium-low and add eggs 2 at a time; beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping sides and bottom of bowl well after each addition. Add meyer lemon juice, vanilla, and salt and mix until just incorporated, about 5 seconds; add heavy cream and mix until just incorporated, about 5 seconds longer. Give batter final scrape, stir with rubber spatula, and pour into prepared springform pan; fill roasting pan with enough hot tap water to come halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake until center jiggles slightly, sides just start to puff, surface is no longer shiny, 55 to 65 minutes. Turn off oven and prop open oven door with potholder or wooden spoon handle; allow cake to cool in water bath in oven for 1 hour. Transfer springform pan without foil to wire rack; run small paring knife around inside edge of pan to loosen sides of cake and cool cake to room temperature, about 2 hours.

While cheesecake bakes, heat meyer lemon juice in small nonreactive saucepan over medium heat until hot but not boiling. Whisk eggs and yolk in medium nonreactive bowl; gradually whisk in sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot meyer lemon juice into eggs, then return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, until mixture registers 170 degrees on instant-read thermometer and is thick enough to cling to spoon, about 3 minutes. Immediately remove pan from heat and stir in cold butter until incorporated; stir in cream, vanilla, and salt, then pour curd through fine-mesh strainer into small nonreactive bowl. Cover surface of curd directly with plastic wrap; refrigerate until needed.

When cheesecake is cool, scrape lemon curd onto cheesecake still in springform pan, spread curd evenly over top of cheesecake. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. To serve, remove sides of springform pan and cut cake into wedges.

Yield: 14 slices.

*I used 1/2 the curd that this recipe makes. Nutrition Information accounts for this change.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 343 calories; 19.8 g. fat; 120 mg. cholesterol; 306 mg. sodium; 33.9 g. carbohydrate; 0 g. fiber; 6.4 g. protein

Result: Tart, sweet, and light…believe it or not! This wasn’t a quick dessert to make, but it’s nothing difficult, either. It does require some kitchen gadgets — mixer, stand mixer, and a springform pan. The middle was a little soft — I baked it for 55 minutes and I think an additional 5-10 minutes would’ve helped (noted above). I also used reduced-fat cream cheese would also cause the slightly softer texture. All-in-all, a killer cheesecake and that meyer lemon flavor…heavenly!


I’m off for a healthy breakfast ;), teaching, hair cut, and then workout (pain-free, let’s hope!).

Is this week FLYING by for anyone else? Insanity.

Be well,

Share With Your Friends!


  1. April 19, 2012 / 6:36 am

    OMG… Meyer Lemon cheesecake is a winner in my book but when you find a way to make it slightly less bad for you…That’s gold medal standards! Beautiful pictures! Buzzed ya!

  2. Liz
    April 19, 2012 / 7:27 am

    My mom would love this – she’s all about lemon desserts! Baking Illustrated suggests removing the cheesecake from the oven when a thermometer inserted into the center reaches 140F. It worked well for me the last time I made a cheesecake.

    • Nicole, RD
      April 19, 2012 / 7:31 am

      Interesting. This recipe had stated 150 (though I didn’t check…). Perhaps that was my issue. The water content of the reduced fat cream cheese is higher, so I assume that is a cause of some of the softness, but who knows! #notabaker!

  3. April 19, 2012 / 8:27 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing this recipe into my world. I am a lover of all things lemon, but especially lemon desserts. The sweet and citrus combination works for me. And this looks like the best lemon dessert on the face of the Earth! Drooling over it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. April 19, 2012 / 8:28 am

    This looks sooooooo good! It has fruit and cream cheese….totally acceptable for breakfast ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. April 19, 2012 / 9:02 am

    Omg, yes please! One, I wish I was a full-time blogger. Two, since that isn’t likely anytime soon, I hope my future coworkers make not just cheesecake, but a reduced fat lemon version! I’d give you employee of the week too! And claim to not like cheesecake!? Is Mr. Prevention crazy? Good to hear he’s not and that he actually loved this.

  6. April 19, 2012 / 9:19 am

    This looks SO good. I love anything with lemon in it ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. April 19, 2012 / 10:41 am

    This looks amazing! I love anything lemon.
    I do have a couple of tricks up my sleeve to share that I use to simplify the cheesecake making process. First, I almost always make them in the food processor. This ensures a completely smooth texture (without excess air), even if you forget to bring the cream cheese to room temperature. I start with the cream cheese and sugar, pulse until smooth, add all other ingredients except eggs, pulse a for a couple of seconds, scrape down the sides, then add eggs one at a time while pulsing. Second, I never use a water bath. I pre-heat the oven to 450, bake for 12-15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 250 (without opening the oven door), and bake until just set but still jiggly, then allow to cool in a cracked open oven for an hour. As long as I don’t bake them for too long, mine almost never crack.

  8. April 19, 2012 / 11:16 am

    This looks incredible!
    I would definitely have had that for breakfast as well if I were you! I love cheesecake. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. April 19, 2012 / 11:17 am

    I love that you used animal crackers. They’re so delicious. I used to buy them in the bulk bags as my everday snack in college. Pretty sure my ex will still refuse to eat them because of how many we consumed in a short period of time…

  10. April 19, 2012 / 12:24 pm

    I sooo miss the days where I could squeeze in a quick cheesecake in the afternoon.

  11. April 19, 2012 / 4:09 pm

    Mouth. Watering. Right. Now. Are you kidding me? Cheesecake and Meyer Lemon? Must have died and gone to heaven!

    I will just let you do all the work and drive down to share a piece with you! haha

  12. April 19, 2012 / 10:22 pm

    This looks so freaking good!

  13. April 20, 2012 / 5:39 am

    I’ve had my fair share of pie for breakfast for the same reason–must taste, must take pic, must blog. And I always get the remainder out of the house before it ends up in my belly–it’s my number one defense against the bulge that my love for baking tries to take out on my butt. This one at least isn’t as crazy high in calories as regular cheesecake, and it look SO perfectly wonderful. Now if you could work a miracle on the evil that is pecan pie (unfortunately, my fave), I would be forever in your debt.

  14. April 20, 2012 / 7:13 am

    I’m a sucker for cheesecake, so it’s nice to see this lightened up version! Meyer lemons just scream summer to me!

  15. April 20, 2012 / 8:56 am

    Aww, the ankle’s still not better eh? Hopefully it recovers soon.
    I got tennis elbow from using my mouse at the office (now I have to use the mouse in my left hand) so I know a thing or two about annoying office injuries.

    Cheesecake is the most amazing thing. There is this little cheesecake cafe in Yorkville in downtown Toronto that wasn’t far from my apartment when I lived there. Whenever someone visited me (which wasn’t nearly as often as I hoped, tbh) I would take them there for the most amazing cheesecake.

    Actually, Matt makes really good cheesecake too. He learned from his mom, who is a master cheesecake maker.

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