Raspberry chocolate cheesecake

This is the recipe for the raspberry chocolate cheesecake I made for my wife’s birthday. She loved it!

I used the basic cheesecake recipe from Wheat Belly with a few modifications: In particular, I added some ingredients to make a thin layer of dark chocolate that provided a nice dimension to the raspberry cheesecake filling. This is a bit more complicated than my usual simple recipes, but it was worth watching my wife really enjoy the rich taste after she blew the candles out.





1 1/2 cups ground pecans (or walnuts or almonds)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons butter, melted (or coconut oil)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup coconut milk (or sour cream. This should be the thick coconut milk, not the thinned kind in the dairy refrigerator.)
3 eggs
Juice of one small lemon and 1 tablespoon freshly-grated lemon peel
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Sweetener equivalent to 3/4 cup sugar (e.g. liquid stevia, Truvia)
12 ounces fresh or frozen raspberries

6 ounces 100% chocolate (unsweetened baking chocolate)
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or butter)
Powdered sweetener equivalent to 1/4 cup sugar (no liquid sweeteners), e.g., Truvia, powdered stevia

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix ground pecans, cinnamon, and cocoa powder in bowl. Add butter, egg, and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into a 10 x 2 cake pan and flatten along bottom. Spread mix up along sides for approximately 1 inch. If mix is too soft to hold its shape along the sides, refrigerate for several minutes and try again. Place in refrigerator to harden.

In large mixing bowl, mix cream cheese, coconut milk, eggs, lemon juice and lemon peel, vanilla, sweetener, and 6 ounces of the raspberries. Mix with blender at low to medium speed until begins to thicken. Set aside.

In double-boiler or microwave, melt chocolate. (Microwave in 15-20 second increments.) When melted, stir in coconut oil and sweetener. Note that the sweetener must be non-aqueous, i.e., a dry powder, as a water-based sweetener such as liquid stevia will not mix with the oils of the chocolate. Truvia and powdered stevia (preferably made with inulin, not maltodextrin) work well. You may want to sweeten to taste. Note that the crystalline sweetener may not fully dissolve in the chocolate but remain as fine crystals suspended in the mix.

Remove the pie crust from the refrigerator and pour chocolate mixture on top, reserving 1-2 tablespoons for topping. Tilt pie pan to spread chocolate evenly. Place in freezer for 10 minutes.

Remove pie crust and pour filling mixture into pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until knife or toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least one hour. Take remaining chocolate and reheat to create a slightly thick liquid. (If too thin, refrigerate for 1-2 minutes.) Drizzle by pouring or using a piping bag or squeeze bottle. (I was lazy, so I just spread it haphazardly by pouring with a spoon. Worked just fine and came out looking like modern art.) Take remaining raspberries and spread along outer edges.

Best served refrigerated.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. John P.

    I’m curious, and this question applies not only to this recipe, but also to the book recipes and otherwise across the board.

    Is it absolutely necessary to use an artificial sweetener if the idea is to do away with wheat, not sugars? I have no real problem with sugar, just wheat (can’t stop eating once I start). I have never been able to abide artificial sweeteners in anything. They are basic deal killers for me.

    Is there all that much harm in using a natural sweetener, like honey, or brown sugar, in any of these recipes. I understand the carb and calorie content go up, but if that’s a minor issue, is there any other problem with not using the artificial sweeteners?

    I’ve been experimenting with some nice paleo muffins with various non-wheat flours (almond, garbanzo bean, rice, etc) and adding for a bit of taste some honey and/or brown sugar. Not a lot (maybe three tablespoons of brown sugar plus a tablespoon of honey per dozen muffins). They also have raisins and fresh fruit in them also, so the sugars are a supplement to the natural sweetness added by the fruit. If I had to add artificial sweeteners, I’d just as soon skip the recipe altogether and look for something else. As I make them, I find them quite satisfying. And I only need to eat one. They last so long I have to freeze a half dozen lest they get moldy before I get to them.

    Enquiring minds want to know….

    • Two implications, John:

      1) Fructose exposure–Fructose is, as Dr. Lustig likes to say, poison. It causes extravagant glycation, meaning hypertension, cataracts, arthritis, not to mention exaggeration of postprandial lipoprotein abnormalities and visceral fat accumulation. Honey, maple syrup, and brown sugar are, to a large degree, fructose exposures.
      2) High blood glucose–Now this you can assess by checking your own fingerstick blood sugars. I aim for NO CHANGE pre-meal compared to 1-hour post-meal.

      Stevia may have potential for modest appetite stimulation, but given the alternatives, it is, I believe, a small compromise.

      • John P.

        Thanks for the quick reply. The next batch of muffins, I’ll try some stevia, just to see if my aversion to artificial sugar still stands, now that I’ve been off wheat for two months.

        As for the blood glucose, (If that’s the same as my blood sugar – which was starting to border the high range, until I stopped eating wheat, and on my first test, came down a good bit) my doctor monitors it pretty regularly. I’m back in in a few weeks, so I’ll have it checked again.

        Thanks. I’d like to take the opportunity to say that I have lost 10 lbs without increasing any exercise, in the past 2 months, and I feel much better. Here’s hoping that continues for the long run.

      • Angela

        What about Coconut Palm Sugar? I think the glycemic index of this is only 35. Would a sweetener like this also cause the glycation issues? I’ve been using this in baking and in coffee/tea and I like the taste better then stevia or truvia—never tried erythritol or anything like that though.

    • connie

      I was wondering on ur thoughts on coconut sugar as I don’t really like sweeteners either. Can it be used in place of normal sugar or sweeteners
      I don’t use regular sugar but will use honey/maple occasionally with the coconut sugar.
      I know coconuts are good for you but am unsure of coconut sugar chemical make up. Would really appreciate your thoughts.
      Thank you

      • I’ve been trying to find an analysis that specifies just how much fructose is contained in coconut sugar. It’s in there, but I’m just not sure how much, but I believe it may be substantial.

        Until such an analysis is available, I don’t think I would allow it to dominate any recipe.

        • connie

          Hi Dr. D,
          found this thought you might like. Yet another so called ‘healthy’ sweetner down the gurgler :-(

          what’s the deal with coconut sugar? | Sarah Wilson
          So this is what the manufacturers of coconut sugar are saying:
          The major component of coconut sugar is sucrose (70-79%) followed by glucose and fructose (3-9%) each. Minor variations will occur, due to differences in primary processing, raw material source, tree age and variety of coconut.

          Good, yes? No! This is very tricky wording. Because sucrose – or just plain table sugar to you and me – is half fructose! So in effect coconut sugar’s between 38% and 48.5% fructose (I did the maths just now). Which…is about the same as sugar and honey.
          Compliments of:

  2. What a guy! Busy cardiologist, author and COOK?! Wow. Your wife is one lucky woman. :-) sounds like she had a GREAT birthday. And Doc, thanks for sharing the recipe!

    • Thanks, Darleen!

      Though hardly a cook. I’ve just been trying to re-imagine familiar recipes and transform them into something healthy yet indulgent.

      Still licking my fingers from the last slice tonite after dinner!

  3. More to the point, Dr Davis, I’ve been wondering whether it’s possible to omit ALL sweeteners, artificial or old-fashioned, from your recipes. Do they taste awful if you do that? Do they not work, e.g. fall apart in the oven? Or, since I’ve been avoiding sugar for over 30 years, and really have lost all my interest in sweetness, are they OK for those that can do without that particular flavour?

    • Oh, sure, Michael.

      The sweeteners are not necessary for texture, only for sweetness. If you have completely lost your desire for sweetness, that is wonderful. Stick to it.

      I’ve not tried many of the recipes without sweeteners, so let us know how it goes.

      Note that I don’t mean to suggest that our diets should be dominated by such recipes like this cheesecake. We should be relying on vegetables, nuts, eggs, cheese, meats, fish, avocados, etc.—real food. But if we would like something fun and indulgent for, say, someone’s birthday, here’s how to do it . . . without paying a big price in health.

  4. Andrea Schmitt

    I just finished reading the book, and you have definitely made your case. I am going to do my best to eliminate wheat not just for me, but from my whole family’s diet. But our situation is a bit tricky.

    My son has multiple food allergies, including wheat, and so many of the foods in the diet are off limits for him. My husband also has some food allergies (though not as many and not as severely as my son), so nuts are out of the question for us. My son is also allergic to tree nuts, peanuts, soy, shellfish, fish, eggs, chicken, turkey, dairy, and peas and several beans. We are in the process of trialing legumes one at a time, but for now black beans, garbanzo and peas are out.

    The gluten free foods you point out that spike blood sugar in the diet have actually been lifesavers for our family. I bake with gluten free flours at home and my son can enjoy a treat at a birthday party without going into anaphylaxis or suffer hives and itching all over his body. He literally was covered with eczema and oozing sores as an infant and at six weeks I eliminated wheat from my diet (while nursing) and his skin cleared up in 36 hours. He is anaphylactic to dairy and fish but if he ingests wheat the atopic response is severe. Someday I hope he will grow out of it but I will do my best to maintain a varied diet for him that also includes some grains such as quinoa. He consumes a lot of rice at the moment (he’s two) but he’s in the toddler stage and Rice Krispies and coconut milk are his favorite snack. I am just happy he’s eating. Interestingly, he can tolerate gluten (regular Rice Krispies has barley) so it’s another one of the proteins in wheat that must be the allergen.

    My only quibble with your book is your advice to tell people trying to avoid wheat in restaurants to say they are allergic. While in some ways they certainly are, for those of us who deal with life-threatening food allergies the common misconceptions in the general public regarding gluten-free, allergies, lactose intolerance, etc. can make it challenging for those who require vigilance in food preparation and handling.

    Thanks for your hard work and the less wheat/processed foods in schools, airports, sporting events, parks, parties, carpools, soccer matches and movies the better!

    • Hi, Andrea–

      We’ve got to wonder why families like yours are becoming increasingly frequent with multiple complex allergies. What set this collection of intolerances in motion?

      When I’ve encountered families like yours, I think you’ve got to choose priorities and accept some compromises, as I don’t believe you can construct a perfect diet with what remains.

      • Andrea Schmitt

        I wonder too. In our case, I think there is a clear genetic link. My husband could not tolerate wheat or dairy or nuts when he was a child. He outgrew wheat/dairy, but was on soy formula until kindergarten. Eczema runs in his family – my father in law suffers from it as well.

        The hygiene hypothesis is frequently cited, that we are too clean and that our immune systems are attacking things they shouldn’t be attacking, but personally I don’t see how this applies to us; our son was this way from birth. He was delivered via caesarean section, and perhaps did not get enough ‘good’ bacteria that way.

        I think it’s the fact that people who generations ago may not have made it with food allergies are surviving and having children, and that accounts for some of the rise. But there is no question in my mind that industrial food practices play a role. You mention soy briefly in your book; genetic changes to soy may be linked to the stratospheric rise in peanut allergies in children. But who knows? To my knowledge, there are no studies in this area.

        What I would like to know is how to read food labels for bulk grains such as quinoa, millet, teff, amaranth, etc. to determine how quickly they raise blood sugar. Is it amount of carbohydrates per serving? Amount of sugars per serving? I figure with moderation I can serve healthier grains at home and then wheat is a ‘treat’ outside the home – occasional, like candy or ice cream.

        • Hi, Andrea–

          The notion that complex carbohydrates are somehow better than simple is complete fiction. Wheat is one glaring example, raising blood sugar higher than candy.

          For the most part, carbs are carbs. Wheat is the worst, since it contains the appetite stimulant, gliadin, glutens, and lectins. But quinoa, millet, buckwheat, etc. still increase blood sugar when a sufficient quantity is consumed, e.g., 1/2 cup or more for most people.

          • Andrea Schmitt

            Yes, I did gather that from the book. I am aware that there will be unavoidable blood sugar issues if grains are not cut out from the diet completely. But I do hope that these grains, by not having been manipulated in the way wheat has, are less likely to contribute to the inflammatory diseases you discussed such as arthritis, dementia, etc., if they are used moderately and with variety. It has to be better than wheat served five or ten times a day for years and years. At the very least, cutting out any processed food with added wheat products can only help. Looking at food labels when trying to protect my son, it’s absolutely astounding to me what has wheat in it. Tomato soup? Really? But as you say, if they want to stimulate appetite, it makes sense.

  5. Cathy

    I agree with John P. about the artificial sweetners. I try to avoid all artificial ingredients. That said, I don’t have a blood sugar problem such as diabetes or pre-diabetes so I can get away with that attitude (although when I eat wheat I have problems with my blood sugar dropping suddenly.)
    That still doesn’t mean I use a lot of sugar. I use Stevia in coffee, tea and such and don’t consider it artificial.
    But Dr. Davis is so right-again-about the fructose. I went wheat free a couple of years ago even though I don’t have celiac’s. Just learned by working with an allergist that wheat is a problem for me. Through research I’ve learned a large part of the reason I can’t eat wheat is due to the high fructose content.

  6. Mike

    On occasion I’d enjoy a snack consisting of a small square of dark chocolate, which, unless I mis-read you, is okay. But dark chocolate bars contain sugar, don’t they? I’m confused. Help!

    • Most 85-86% cocoa dark chocolates contain around 8-9 grams “net” carbs per 40 gram serving (about 2 inches square).

      Since most people can easily tolerate 10-15 grams carbohydrates at a time, this usually keeps you under the glycemic “radar.”

      If even that much concerns you, then see my recipe for “Adults only chocolate” back a couple of weeks.

  7. PJ

    Thank you for this recipe! It came just in time for a Christmas party last night. I love raspberries and this was absolutely delicious! I doubled the recipe, used stevia and it was perfect. The fact that there was something at the party that I could eat made it so much more fun. Just showed up a little late, said I already had dinner and was able to have dessert. People couldn’t believe that this was “diet” food. No leftovers to take home kinda’ bummed me out.

  8. Barb

    Last night I read in my new Life Extension Magazine that men who eat more than one egg a day have a much greater chance of prostate cancer. I’m not sure what to do since our wheat free eating plan incorporates a good amount of eggs in our coconut flour pancakes, our flaxseed meal bread, and our almond meal cheddar crackers.

    • Eat the eggs, Barb. Then eat more eggs.

      The epidemiologic studies that report these kinds of associations are, at best, hypothesis generating. Unfortunately, it is creating a world of nutritional neurosis.

      This is why I believe we should choose our nutritional “battles”–pick the biggest, nastiest, smelliest, most harmful battles and win those. Don’t sweat the little stuff.

  9. Mike

    Some of the recipes you talk about sound terrific. However, I am one of many of your followers who does not like to cook and does not wish to spend the time and effort preparing those recipes. Is there any way of purchasing a ready-made cheesecake or similar scrumptious food that has your blessing? Does any store sell these items? Do you or any of your followers sell these items? If not, are there any thoughts of doing this in the future?

    • Hi, Mike. I hear you.

      Yes, I am discussing ways to get these products out to everyone through stores. That won’t happen overnight, of course.

      I cook an awful lot nowadays. But there are days when, after a 10-hour day in the office, writing, interviewing, etc., when I sure would prefer to just open a box of healthy wheat-free muffins, or have a slice (or three!) of healthy cheesecake that I bought.

      In time!

  10. Barb

    We make cut-out Christmas cookies every year with our grandchildren. I’ve been looking for an appropriate recipe, one that fits the criteria for your eating plan, Dr. Davis. One that will result in a batter that can be used with cookie cutters. I have yet to find one. Do you have one we can use?

    • Look back a few weeks on this blog, Barb, and you will find the chocolate chip cookie recipe.

      I am also planning to post another cookie recipe in the next few days.

      • Barb

        Yes, Dr. Davis, we love your chocolate cookie recipe. I tried to roll these and cut them (without using the chips) but wasn’t successful. Not sure what is needed to hold them together enough to roll and cut out.

  11. Too Sweet!
    I find that since I’ve changed my lifestyle my taste has changed. I no longer like sweet tasting food or drinks. Since putting the wheat and sugars out of my diet, I’ve lost 145 pounds in the past 21 months. I don’t even care for foods sweetened with so called healthy sweeteners. Has anyone else experienced this? I don’t believe any sweeteners are good for you. It’s like an alcoholic drinking near-beer or a heroin addict on methadone. What a feeling of freedom I enjoy not being hooked on sweet stuff.

    • Wow, Dan: 145 pounds! That’s spectacular!

      An occasional person does indeed experience this effect. The key is to recognize it and adjust your recipes/diet to avoid.

      Most people do not need to avoid sweeteners like stevia, but the occasional person can have a substantial appetite-triggering.