Lemon Cheesecake Squares

Sometimes you crave something sweet, but you can’t place exactly what it is that you want. You start running through your mind all the options for a sweet tooth fix but nothing sounds right. This is the time I usually go for something sweet and tart. I love tangy and citrus desserts. I never met a lemon dessert  I didn’t like. These cheesecake bars are really easy to whip together and they fulfill the sweet but tart craving. I had a jar of lemon curd in my pantry I had to use up, so I went with that rather than homemade, but you could make homemade lemon curd if you like. Enjoy~

Lemon Cheesecake Squares

Lemon Cheesecake Squares signed

 

Lemon Cheesecake Squares 3

 

Lemon Cheesecake Squares Slicing

recipe adapted from Fine Cooking

Gingercrumb Crust

1 (5 0z.) pkg. Pepperidge Farm “ginger-man”cookies, (or other gingersnap type cookies) ground to a fine crumb (to equal 1 Cup of crumbs)

1 Tbsp. sugar

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

1. Combine the ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Prepare an 8 inch square pan lined with tinfoil to allow a 2 inch overhang on all sides. Lightly spray the foil with baking spray (nonstick spray). Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake for 10 minutes at 350° F. Remove from the oven and lower the temperature to 325° F. Make the filling as below.

Cheesecake Filling

2 (8 oz.) bars cream cheese, room temp

3/4 Cup sugar

zest of two lemons

3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 Lg. eggs, room temp

1. Cut the cream cheese into one inch pieces and place into a food processor along with the sugar, zest and lemon juice. Process for about 30 seconds until smooth. Add the eggs and process again about 20 seconds. Pour onto the crust and bake at 325 degrees for about 40 mins. or until the center appears dry and the edges become slightly puffed. Allow the cheesecake to cool about 10 minutes. Take the jar of lemon curd, spoon it into a bowl, and microwave for about 20 seconds to become warm. Gently pour the curd over the cheesecake, and spread evenly with an off-set spatula. Allow the bars to cool to room temperature then place the pan in the fridge to chill for several hours or overnight. Once chilled and set, remove the entire pan of bars using the tinfoil and peel away the foil and cut into squares.

Topping

(about 1 generous Cup purchased) jar of lemon curd (I like Dickinson’s)


Blackberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars

I have a childhood confession. I used to steal blackberries from the neighbor’s yard; but it’s okay because my Mother made me do it. She doesn’t remember this, but I remember it vividly as if  it were  yesterday. We had an old man who lived behind us that had an amazing garden. He scared the living daylights out of me. His garden had wonderful plump blackberries. That garden of his was like something out of a Secret Garden. True story book material. It was somewhat magical and grand. He was always tinkering in his big garden so it was hard to find the time when he was not around. I think I had his nap time figured out though. Just when the moment was right, I would bring my little Tupperware container and seize a few of those berries.

Then I would run like hell.

Technically is it stealing if those berries are crossed over into your property by say a half an inch or two? 🙂 If I were in that house today I would simply make these bars and ask him for some berries. I’m sure he would have approved.

Blackberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars

Crust:

8 large cinnamon graham crackers; crushed to a fine meal to equal 1 generous Cup crumbs

3 Tbsp. confectioners sugar

pinch of salt

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling:

2 (8 oz). bars (16 oz. total) of cream cheese; softened to room temp

1 Cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup sour cream at room temp

3 Large eggs at room temp

1  1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste

2 Tbsp. flour

1/3 Cup Blackberry seedless jam

1 Tbsp. water

fresh blackberries

Make the filling: Combine the cream cheese and sugar in an electric mixer and beat until smooth. Add the sour cream and beat until smooth. Stir in the vanilla bean paste. Add the eggs one at a time and combine until smooth. Stir in the flour. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the worker bowl to make sure all the cream cheese has been combined thoroughly.

1. Prepare an 8 inch pan with a double sling (so each side is covered) of tinfoil. Spray the foil lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350° degrees F.

2. Pulse the graham crackers to a fine meal in either a food processor or blender; you should get about one generous Cup. Add the sugar and salt and melted butter and combine. Press into the bottom of your prepared pan and chill for 30 minutes. Bake the chilled crust for 10 minutes.

3. Prepare the filling while the crust chills.

4. Pour the filling into the pan and dot the filling with the blackberry jam by dropping teaspoons over the batter. Use a wooden skewer to swirl the jam. Lower the oven to 325 degrees.

5. Bake the bars at 325° degrees for 30-40 minutes until the filling is set but slightly soft in the center. let the bars cool in the pan on a wire rack until set. Chill the bars for 2-3 hours until very cold and remove the entire pan of bars carefully using the sling. Peel away the foil. Cut into bars. Decorate the top with fresh blackberries is desired.


Mini Raspberry-Vanilla Bean Cheesecakes

In the late summer of 1998 I moved to San Francisco from New Mexico. I had been living in the “Land of Enchantment” for a short time when I was a traveling Nurse. I still remember the long drive through the central valley of California on my way to San Francisco and seeing all the fresh produce trucks driving past me in great numbers. Convoys of huge trucks filled with roma tomatoes, and other fresh produce were cruising past me on my journey to my new home. It suddenly dawned on me that California was going to be an exciting place when it came to shopping for fresh fruits and veggies. The first taste of a really ripe apricot was one of my first amazing discoveries, the second was tasting a really ripe juicy raspberry. Grocery shopping suddenly became a little more exciting to me. Being a “foodie” this was fun for me to find such gorgeous fruit. I don’t mean to wax poetic, but this was something new to me; a raspberry that was really sweet and not half ripe. Cartons of beautiful ruby-red raspberries all stacked atop each other in neatly organized rows. A raspberry that was picked from the coastal region of California the day before at its peak of ripeness- not hard, not pale red, but deep dark red and sweet. Raspberries have been on sale this week so I took the opportunity to grab quite a few and made some fresh raspberry sauce to top my cheesecakes. You could also use frozen raspberries and it would work fine. Here is another favorite recipe of mine; a raspberry tart recipe while raspberries are in season. Click here for more facts about California raspberries as well as how to pick and store fresh raspberries from the fine folks at Driscolls. Enjoy.

Mini Raspberry-Vanilla Bean Cheesecakes

yield: 24 mini (standard muffin size) cheesecakes

Raspberry Topping

24 oz. fresh raspberries

1/2 Cup sugar

1 tsp. cornstarch

1 tsp. water

In a 3 quart saucepan combine the raspberries and sugar and let them macerate for a few minutes. On medium high heat, bring the raspberries and sugar mixture to a boil for 3 minutes while stirring continuously with a rubber spatula. Mash the raspberries with the spatula while letting it come to a boil. After 3 minutes, in a small bowl combine the cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Stir in the slurry and continue to stir for another 3 minutes to let the mixture thicken. Strain through a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl to remove all the seeds and press the mixture with the spatula back and forth to allow all of the raspberry filling to pass through. Scrape the underside of the strainer to make sure you get all of the filling into the bowl. Let the filling cool and chill in a covered container in the fridge.

Cheesecakes:

4 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese; room temp

1 Cup sugar

1 tsp. lemon zest

2 tsp. vanilla bean paste

4 eggs; room temp

1  1/2  Cup fresh raspberries rinsed and drained well

24 “Nilla” wafers

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Prepare 2 standard size muffin tins with paper liners. Place a Nilla wafer in the bottom of each muffin cup with the flat side down. Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla bean paste until well combined. Beat in the eggs one at a time until just combined. Carefully fold in the fresh raspberries. Fill the liners 3/4 full with cheesecake mixture. Bake about 15-18 minutes until the centers are ALMOST set. Cool completely and chill the cakes for 3-4 hours. Top each cheesecake with raspberry topping. Serve cold.