This seasonal New York-style cheesecake is not exactly "lite", just light.  Not leaden.  But it is a little lower fat because I substituted one cup of cottage cheese in place of the original one cup of heavy cream.  :)  This gives it a higher protein content and reduces the fat.
This is an amazing pumpkin cheesecake, with just the right amount of tartness, sweetness, and spice.  I adapted it from an America's Test Kitchen recipe.  The whipped cream topping is optional but perfect.

The recipe- which is below- calls for a 9-inch springform pan.  I don't own one, but I do have a 9-inch round cake pan.  I use it instead by cutting out a circle of parchment paper and lining the bottom with it, spraying the inside edges with cooking spray, and going ahead with the baking.  When it's done, run a knife around the inside edge to help it pull away, cool and chill completely, and invert the pan over a plate.  Tap hard.  If it's being really stubborn, run hot water over the bottom of the pan (held at an angle so the plate doesn't fill with water) and try again.  
Pumpkin Cheesecake
1 sleeve (about 5 ounces) graham crackers- whack it a few times to break into chunks
6 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Put the cracker pieces in a blender or food processor; run until finely ground.  Put the butter in a 2-cup microwave-safe container and melt it, about 30 seconds in the microwave.  Dump in the crumbs, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix well, then sprinkle over the bottom of a 9" springform pan.  Press down evenly using the bottom of a glass or something else flat.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until it starts smelling delicious.  Remove and let cool while you make the filling.

2 cups pumpkin puree (canned or your own- or, better yet, use pumpkin powder)*
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or use 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice in place of these four spices)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup cottage cheese
5 large eggs room temperature

Pour the pumpkin puree on a triple layer of paper towels, spread evenly, then top with another triple layer. Press firmly to absorb the extra moisture.  The Test Kitchen said that when they didn't do this, the cheesecake was always wet.   OR- best idea ever!- use your pumpkin powder, using only half the water you normally would.  That means you'd use 6 Tbsp. pumpkin powder-- barely over 1/3 cup-- plus enough warm water to equal one cup.  (Ta-da!  aren't you extra-glad now that you made some?!)

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil for a water bath later.  Put the pumpkin in a blender or food processor, and add the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, cream cheese, vanilla, lemon juice, cottage cheese, and eggs.  Blend until smooth. Pour over crust. Put this pan in a roasting pan or on a jelly roll pan if that's all you have.  Put it in the oven, then pour water in that larger pan, enough to come about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan.  Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, until the center wobbles like Jello instead of like water; a thermometer poked into the center should register 145-150 degrees F.  Run a knife around the inside edge of the cheesecake, then put the cheesecake pan on a wire rack to cool.  When cool, chill for at least 4 hours to let it firm up.  (I didn't have that much time; mine cooled on the counter for 30 minutes, then went in the fridge for 3 hours.  It was a little soft in the center, but sliced OK.  The leftovers sliced much more nicely the next day.)

Brown Sugar and Rum (flavor) Cream Topping
1 cup whipping cream, very cold
1/2 cup sour cream or 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp. rum flavor*

Whip the cream until it barely starts to thicken.  Add sour cream or cream cheese (I used cream cheese since I was out of sour cream), brown sugar, salt, and rum flavor. Beat about a minute, until thick; spread on top of cooled cheesecake.

*I have a whole bunch of Stephen's Gourmet Rum Sauce mix packets; each packet makes 2 cups of sauce; I used half of one dry mix in place of part of my sugar.  But I don't know if the company still makes the mix; I got them for ten cents apiece on a clearance deal. So you can use rum flavor.  Or use 2 tsp. rum if you happen to like it.  Or, if you live nearby, call me and you can have a packet.  :)
I also cooked a bit of the sauce and used that to drizzle a design on the top of the cheesecake.  Mini chocolate chips sprinkled on top would be great instead, as would some sugared pecans or hazelnuts.  Mmm.
Alcohol is added for the flavor it gives, as well as for the liquid it adds.  Sometimes you can come up with a totally different flavor that you’ll like.  For instance, in a sweet dish or beverage, try adding some cream soda or other soda pop, coconut milk, juice or other liquid instead of liquor.  In a savory dish, to replace the “umami” flavor from alcohol, use some complementary liquid (water, milk, broth, clam juice, soy sauce, etc.) and/or herbs or spices for flavor.  Foods that are high in that ‘umami’ (savory) flavor include aged cheeses (like Asiago, sharp Cheddar, or Parmesan), soy sauce,  Worcestershire sauce,  anchovies or other fish, shellfish, dried seaweed, Chinese cabbage, vinegars, pickled foods, spinach, tomatoes (especially dried ones), mushrooms.  Cured, aged, or fermented foods are almost always high in “umami”.  Add whatever sounds good with your recipe; they’ll add a lasting depth to the dish’s flavor.

For the substitutions below, I relied heavily on an old cookbook I have, Entertaining Without Alcohol, by Dorothy Crouch.

In place of…       Use this…

Almond Extract
Replace some of the flour with an equal amount of ground almonds, or replace some of the shortening/oil with the same amount of marzipan.  The dish will be a little grainy.

“Burnt” sugar (caramel) syrup: melt sugar until dark golden.  The darker it gets, the less sweet it will be; too dark  will be bitter.  Add an equal amount of water, stirring in drop by drop as it will splatter.  A little goes a long way; use 1 Tbsp. or less. 

Calvados or Applejack
Apple cider (fresh, if you can get it).  The dish will taste sweet if you use more than ¼ cup of this.

Blackberry juice, or add water to blackberry preserves/jam/syrup.  Black currant or elderberry may be used instead.  If you have the fresh fruit, cook and press it through a sieve if you like.

Apple cider with 1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar per ½ cup of cider
Reduce sugar in the recipe

Curacao, Grand Marnier, or Cointreau
Frozen orange juice concentrate, or tangerine juice.  For Curacao, also add 1 tsp. grated orange zest  (or a little orange oil or extract) per ¼ c. concentrate
Replace with an equal amount of unsweetened raspberry juice, or add water to raspberry jam to make it the consistency of juice.  If you don’t have any, orange is usually a complementary flavor, or a little almond.

Lemon Extract
Same as Orange Extract, but use lemons.   Use a light hand; too much oil and peel make a dish bitter.  Use ¼ tsp. of zest or ¼ tsp. dried peel for ¼ tsp. of extract. 

Orange Extract
The oil you get from bending an orange peel over a dish, plus 1 Tbsp. grated orange zest.  Or use 1 Tbsp. dried orange peel.

Red Wine
Beef broth, tomato juice, and/or vegetable juice (like V-8).   Don’t substitute cream of tomato soup; it’s too sweet.
Reduce salt by ¼- ½ tsp. for each cup of broth used.

Rum, Light
Simple syrup made using light brown or granulated sugar
Reduce sugar in the recipe

Rum, Dark
Simple syrup made using dark brown sugar
Reduce sugar in the recipe


Replace 1 Tbsp. of  butter or oil with 1 Tbsp. walnut oil, or add a couple tablespoons finely chopped walnuts.
Vanilla Extract
Use vanilla sugar, vanilla syrup, or vanilla ice cubes.  See under this chart for instructions.

White Wine
Replace with an equal amount of chicken broth, fish stock, or clam juice.  If you don’t need much flavor, use water or a little apple cider vinegar mixed with broth.
Reduce salt by ¼- ½ tsp. for each cup of broth used.

Wine  Vinegars
My understanding of wine vinegars is that there is no alcohol remaining; all vinegar goes through a fermenting stage first.  Specific strains of bacteria are added to this, and they digest the alcohols, leaving acetic acid as a byproduct.  "White wine vinegar", then, means that at one point the liquid was white wine, before the bacteria changed it.  You could just call it "white grape vinegar"; that's what it means.  If anyone knows different than this, please let me know.   If you're still concerned with using them, here are some substitutions:  White wine vinegar: use distilled white vinegar.  For red wine vinegar, use cider vinegar or some other made from fruit (raspberry, pomegranate, etc.) 

Vanilla Cubes: Chop 2-4 vanilla beans and add 1 quart (4 cups) of water.  Bring to a boil; simmer until reduced by half, to get 2 cups.  Cover and let sit overnight to intensify.  Pour through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth, pressing on the bean bits to get as much flavor out as you can.  Pour this liquid into ice cube trays; it will be enough for two trays. When frozen, transfer cubes to freezer bags.  Remember to label them!

Vanilla Sugar:  Cut 2 vanilla beans into 1” pieces.  Stir them  into a container with up to five pounds of sugar.  Let this sit for a week or more (longer= better flavor).  To use the sugar, pour it through a sieve.  Alternately, you could very finely chop those vanilla beans, and use the sugar with flecks in it. 

Vanilla Syrup: Follow instructions for Vanilla Cubes, above, except:  instead of straining and freezing the water into cubes, mix the liquid with the bean bits in a saucepan with 2 cups of sugar.  Bring to a boil, cover the pot for a few minutes to let any stray sugar crystals dissolve in the steam.  Cool and pour into a jar, including the bean bits.  If the mixture crystallizes, reheat it to dissolve.  Reduce sugar in the recipe by about the same amount of syrup used.