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We have been trying to cut back on sugar in our house.  That’s really hard to do when you have a sweet-tooth kids.  And, then with the holidays coming up and birthdays… This is the time of year that I start gearing up for baking non stop.  Well, this year I am going to try to be good. (Hopefully…)

So, my husband’s birthday was this weekend and (Yes, he loved the picture!) I made him a cheesecake. It’s his favorite. (Okay, it’s my favorite, and I tell him it’s his favorite… So far it’s working!) Since we’ve got this “no sugar” strike going on, I was a little worried how well the cheesecake was going to turn out, but it was de-lish! Guilt free! I love it!

Like I said, I loooove cheesecake.  In fact I’m a cheesecake connoisseur.  (Okay, not really. It just sounds good to say it.) I have a basic cheesecake recipe that I always use. A friend of mine gave it to me when Doug and I first got married. (Thanks Sheri H!) I use it for just about every kind of cheesecake. It has a creamy smooth texture. It’s so easy, and I change it up by adding chocolate to the batter, or lemon flavor, or whatever I want. The only problem is that it’s very sinful.  I made this recipe guilt-free, for my hubby’s cake, by substituting Splenda for sugar, and fat-free cream cheese for regular cream cheese .  I think it turned out great!

Sinful or Guilt-Free Cheesecake

For Crust:

1¼ cups graham cracker crumbs

1/3 cup butter, melted

3 Tablespoon sugar or Splenda

For Filling:

4 – 8oz packages of cream cheese, softened (regular or fat-free)

1 1/3 cup sugar or Splenda

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325°. Blend together ingredients for crust until crumbly. Press into bottom of 9″ spring-form pan. Bake for 8 minutes at 325°.

For filling: Cream together, cream cheese and sugar until smooth, scraping bowl a few times. Beat in vanilla and eggs one at a time, scraping bowl after each egg. Pour batter into prepared crust in spring-form pan. See below for baking instructions.

For Sinful Cheesecake: Bake for 50 to 60 minutes at 325° until set in center and slightly brown on edges. Chill for 4 to 8 hours, or overnight, before removing the spring form. Store in refrigerator.  (This version will have a smooth, creamy texture. This makes more batter because of the sugar, and takes longer to bake.)

For Guilt-Free Cheesecake: Bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 325° until set in center and just done. Do not brown, as this will make the top very firm. Chill for 4 to 8 hours, or overnight, before removing the spring form. Store in refrigerator.   (This version has a different texture than the Sinful Cheesecake, it’s more like a custard, maybe? This makes less batter because of the Splenda, and takes less time to bake.)

I’m not too worried about cracks in my cheesecake, because I usually slather them with some kind of topping. But, if you are worried with cracks, cover the outside bottom of your spring-form pan with foil and place in a pan and fill with a couple of inches of water.  Bake as directed. You can also crack the oven door, after the cake is done baking, and allow it to cool inside oven, to avoid cracks.

(You can make an in-between sinful and guilt-free version by using half sugar, half Splenda, and by using half regular cream cheese, and half fat free.)

Doesn’t this look gorgeous?

*Stephanie’s Tips: My favorite is to make this with a chocolate cookie crust. Use 2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs, ½ stick butter (melted), 1 Tablespoon sugar. Mix until crumbly and press into 9″ spring-form pan and bake at 325° for 5 minutes. To the batter I add, 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, and 1 cup peanut butter chips. Or, 2 cups chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Bake as directed.  Absolute sin! No doubt about it. Seriously folks, your whole weeks worth of calories are right there in one little piece of heaven… I mean sin.

Which one will you make? 😀

Have a great week peeps!

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