Now cheesecake isn’t exactly a light dessert in either calories or richness, but I’ve always used 1/3 less fat cream cheese (neufchatel) and Daisy Brand light sour cream. I also use skim milk in the mousse. There’s no reason (IMHO) to use full-fat if the light version creates the same fantastic result. Bonus! But Fat-Free is a different story…most often products that are labeled fat free are filled with additives to reproduce the flavor lost when removing the fat. “Light” is your friend.
The most important layer of this dessert is the cheesecake and it’s filled with tiny specs of vanilla from vanilla beans adding the flavor you can’t get with extract. But…I have an easy tip for you, Vanilla Bean Paste. I’m in love with it.
I use Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste which is certified gluten free and you can find it at Williams-Sonoma. It’s a bit pricy, but it’s concentrated and lasts awhile. It makes a world of difference in anything vanilla. I use it in everything: cakes, frosting, pies, granola, sweet potato casserole, cookies, etc. If you cannot find the paste, of course just use vanilla beans – they are the original source of flavor afterall and you can’t do better than that.
- 2 cups gluten free cookie crumbs such as shortbread, arrowroot, ginger snap, etc. (My favorite is a combination of Pamela’s Pecan Shortbread and Midel Arrowroot.)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans (Pecan Chips by Diamond are good)
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 stick of butter melted (1/2 cup)
Filling for Cheesecake:
- 2 – (8 oz) packages 1/3 less fat cream cheese, room temp
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup Daisy Light Sour Cream
- 1 heaping Tbsp Pamela’s baking mix (or GF all purpose flour)
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 whole vanilla bean seeded)
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup skim milk
- 1/2 pkg (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding – Jello Brand is gf safe, check ingredients
In a large glass or stainless bowl, whip the whipping cream together with the milk until soft peaks form. Add the dry pudding mix to the cream mixture…slowly….and beat until stiff peaks form and the mousse is light and fluffy.
Spread over the cooled cheesecake and smooth to cover the entire top surface. Chill at least 1 hour until ready to serve. Top with fresh whipped cream and strawberries just before serving.
Whipping Cream for Top
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 Tbsp powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp clear vanilla extract
Combine all three ingredients in a medium glass or stainless bowl and whip until stiff peaks form.