Cheesecake is by far my favorite dessert. Most kids my age would request chocolate cakes with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Care Bears for their birthday. Me? Cheesecake. Mayyyyyyybe pie. Definitely not a plain ol’ cake. Especially not some nasty dry cake from the store bakery with frosting made from shortening and dye. Yuck! Those things are so gross and full of chemicals that don’t belong in baked goods. I have to admit that I’m always a bit disappointed when I see them at parties. Even a boxed mix is better than those store cakes. Come on, people! Put in a modicum of effort and make something, even if it’s not totally from scratch.
Nope, for my birthday it’s got to be cheesecake for my birthday “cake”. It’s sweet, tangy, creamy goodness on a crispy graham cracker (or chocolate, or shortbread, or well any kind of cookie) crust. The simple lemon and berry variety is my favorite with apple caramel following close behind. About the only kind of cheesecake that I don’t like is the coffee kind. I’m probably the only person in the world who not only does NOT like (or drink) coffee, but doesn’t like regular birthday cakes either.
Well, without further ado, I give you Lemon Berry Cheesecake Bars. These cheesecake bars have all the taste of the classic desserts with bright clean notes from the lemon and bursts of sweetness from the berries. A perfect pairing, if I do say so myself! Plus, you don’t need a springform pan to make them. I don’t have one (which is why I make bars instead of actual cheesecakes), but it’s on my list of baking things to get someday so I can make actual honest-to-goodness, real-deal cheesecakes. Then I shall be fancy!
- 1 package graham crackers (9 crackers)
- 2 tbs sugar
- Dash cinnamon
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
- 16 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups frozen mixed berries
- Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 9x9 pan and line with parchment paper.
- Combine first 3 crust ingredients in food processor and pulse until you have crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse to combine. Spread crumbs into pan and press in place. I use my hands, but you can use a cup or utensil to press the crust.
- Bake the crust for approximately 12 minutes and then set aside to cool completely.
- In a mixer combine first 5 filling ingredients and beat on medium speed until well combined. It should be really thick and kind of fluffy. Pour out onto the cooled crust, level, and sprinkle with berries.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes. The middle should still have a little bit of jiggle without being runny.
- Chill for at least 4 hours in the fridge, or overnight.
Recipe adapted from: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/lemon-blueberry-cheesecake-bars-recipe.html