I made this cheesecake as an experiment and took it to a family party entirely untested. I had to–there isn’t a good way to scale down cheesecake (unless you happen to have a 5″ springform pan, I guess) and Sean and I really shouldn’t eat an entire cheesecake ourselves! Fortunately, it turned out REALLY well and got rave reviews all-around. No one even realized it was natural sugar only until Sean was eating it too! Now, I can’t claim that it’s healthy, it is, in fact, pretty much as bad for you as any other cheesecake, but it sure is tasty!

Traditional cheesecakes have a graham cracker crust, but sugar-free graham crackers both don’t taste that great and are rather hard to find. With that in mind, I applied the same principles that you use to make a graham cracker crust, but used almond meal (ground almonds) instead. It adds a nice hint of flavor to the final dish, and I find that I actually prefer it to the graham cracker flavor anyway. Plus, doing it with almonds means that the final product is gluten-free, so long as you make sure to check packages for contamination. None of the other ingredients (including Truvia, if you buy on-brand!) are unsafe, so you could feed this to someone who can’t have both gluten and sugar! If you aren’t too terribly worried about sugar or gluten you could, of course, just use normal graham crackers and make a traditional crust, but I don’t actually recommend it. The almond-cheesecake-blackberry combination was just too nice to pass up!

The blackberry topping can be used for other things, or you could make a different fruit topping for the cheesecake, if so desired. Blackberries are in season here, so that’s what I used. The pairing worked out quite well, so I do recommend it, but you can try a more traditional strawberry or cherry topping instead, if you want. We’ve  put the blackberry topping on pancakes and waffles, which was also good, and I am planning to try it in crepes sometime soon. I’m also planning to try straining it for a more traditional syrup, but I haven’t yet. It should work just fine, though, if you don’t like seeds and want to try it that way. Just pour it through a fine mesh sieve.

Natural Sugar Cheesecake with Blackberry Topping

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole almonds
  • 3 TBS butter, melted
  • 2 TBS Truvia (or off-brand of the same–my store now carries a store brand “Truvia” and it works just as well)


For the Filling:

  • 1 lb (16 0z, usually two packages) cream cheese
  • 1/2 lb (8 oz, usually one package) Neufchatel cheese (it’s a French cream cheese, slightly different and lighter)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 TBS fresh lemon zest
  • 1/4 c fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup + 1/2 TBS Truvia or similar off-brand


For the Topping:

  • 6 TBS agave nectar
  • 3 c fresh or frozen black berries (they work equally well; I use fresh when we’ve been picking recently, otherwise frozen)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 TBS cornstarch + 1 TBS water (whisked together)



1. Set the cream cheese and Neufchatel cheese out to soften at least an hour ahead of baking time.

2. First, we’ll assemble the crust. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grind the almonds in a food processor or blender until they are a powder about the consistency of well-pounded cracker crumbs (for me, this is about the finest my food processor will grind them anyway). It’s a pretty fine grind. Put them in a medium bowl and mix in the Truvia. Dump the butter over the top and mix until it’s all well combined.

3. Press the almond mixture evenly into the bottom of a 10″ springform pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-13 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from oven and set aside to cool while you make the filling.

4. Reduce oven heat to 325 degrees F. Put the Truvia, cream cheese, Neufchatel cheese, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Blend with the paddle attachment at low speed until well-combined, scraping down the sides as needed. You can do this by hand, but it’s a lot of work, so I recommend using a stand mixer, or at least a electric hand mixer.

5. Once well-combined, leave the mixer running at medium-low speed and add the eggs one at a time. Do not add the next egg until the first is fully incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides as needed (generally about once per egg) so that everything is evenly combined and you don’t have yucky cheese-lumps. The mixer should need to run about five minutes to do this well.

6. Add the lemon zest and juice after the last egg is incorporated and mix thoroughly, scraping down the sides to make sure everything is evenly incorporated. You should now have a nice, smooth batter.

7. Pour the batter into the springform pan on top of your cooled crust. Bake in the 325 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes, or until very lightly browned and the center is firm when gently touched. The edges will probably get darker and puff up some; this is pretty much unavoidable and won’t hurt the final product.

8. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before serving. Once cooled to room temperature (you must cool it all the way, this dish cannot be served warm) you can either serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator until serving. Serve with topping of your choice (blackberry topping instructions are below).

9. To make the blackberry topping, put the agave nectar, blackberries, and 1/4 cup water into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Boil a couple of minutes, until well-combined and the berries look a bit cooked. Some may be falling apart. Add the cornstarch and water and mix well. Let boil a couple more minutes to slightly thicken. You may now use the topping as-is, let it cool, or chill it in the refrigerator. Any way you serve it, it tastes pretty good! Enjoy!