Is everyone getting pumped up for the Fourth?  In truth we don’t really have any big plans, though I am looking forward to a day off with the kids in the middle of the week.  Over the weekend I was brainstorming some fun food ideas for the holiday, but every dessert I came up with was just too involved.  I didn’t feel like spending hours making a fancy cake or cookies.  I have a permanent craving for cheesecake but with the heat we’ve been having I wanted something a bit lighter.  Since I had just finished a fresh batch of greek yogurt, I figured I could probably use it to create something that tasted a whole lot like cheesecake with less effort and less calories.

Turns out my inkling of an idea was right on.  I prepped very simple strawberry and blueberry toppings in advance.  Then I mixed up a simple graham cracker crust and layered it in the bottom of the glasses.  (You could bake the crust if you wish, but I didn’t think it was necessary.  I was going for easy here.)  For the cheesecake filling, I blended cream cheese with greek yogurt, powdered sugar, and vanilla.  Still not health food to be sure, but definitely healthier than traditional cheesecake.  I had a bit of graham cracker dough in the freezer (more on that very soon) so I baked up a few stars for a festive garnish.  I was so pleased with how these turned out.  They have the rich, creamy cheesecake flavor I love minus the guilt that comes afterward.  As a bonus, they can be completely made and assembled in advance and pulled out of the fridge for party time.  Now if impromptu plans do arise, I’ve got dessert totally covered.

  • Yield 12 servings


For the strawberry topping:*

    1½ cups chopped strawberries
    2 tbsp. granulated sugar

For the blueberry topping:*

    1 cup fresh blueberries
    3 tbsp. granulated sugar
    1½ tsp. cornstarch
    2 tsp. water
    Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

For the graham cracker base:

    ¾ cups graham cracker crumbs
    1 tbsp. granulated sugar
    1½ tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake layer:

    8 oz. cream cheese (reduced fat is fine)
    2 cups low-fat greek yogurt
    1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (optional)
    1½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
    1 tsp. vanilla
    1 tbsp. heavy cream


  • 01

    To make the strawberry topping, combine the strawberries and sugar in a small bowl and toss with a fork to combine.  Let stand at least 1 hour, stirring once or twice, until the berries have released their juices.  Mash the berries a bit with the fork.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

  • 02

    To make the blueberry topping, combine the blueberries and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  In a small pinch bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth.  Stir the berries occasionally when they begin to release their juices.  Once the juices are bubbling, stir in the cornstarch mixture.  Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture bubbles and thickens.  Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice.  Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.

  • 03

    Set out 12 mini mason jars (small glasses will also work).  In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter.  Stir with a fork until evenly combined.  Scoop about 1½ tablespoons of the mixture into the bottom of each jar and tamp down gently with the bottom of a small glass.

  • 04

    To make the cheesecake mixture, combine the cream cheese and greek yogurt in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the bowl.  Beat the mixture on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.  Add in the confectioners’ sugar and mix until well incorporated, 1-2 minutes.  Blend in the vanilla and heavy cream on low speed, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes more.  Divide the mixture between the serving jars.  Spoon the blueberry topping over 6 of the servings.  Spoon the strawberry topping over the remaining servings, partially draining of the excess juices before using.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

  • 05

    *The quantities of ingredients listed for the blueberry and strawberry toppings will make just the right amount for this recipe.  If you prefer to make only one type of topping, you will need to make a double batch.