Life & Other Stuff

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Lemon Fruity Cheesecake Bars

Mmmm, cheesecake. 

My BFF shared an excellent recipe with me some time ago and that cheesecake turned out so well I couldn't help but make it again.  This time they're for a friend's birthday party and I tweaked it a little bit and made them into bars.  I was inspired by these resources:
Chanatl's New York Cheesecake
Martha Stewart's Lemon Cheesecake Bars
Cake on the Brain: Mini Vanilla Bean Cheesecakes with Fresh Berries


about 25-30 graham crackers, crushed
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon (2 to 3 teaspoons zest and about 3 tablespoons juice)
Fruit Preserves (choice)
Fresh Blueberries (or berries of your choice)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 rectangular pan.
2.  In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. Press onto bottom of springform pan.
Tip: I crush the crackers in a chopper but you can certainly also crush in a food processor. 
3.  In a large bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Blend in milk, and then mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth. Add the lemon zest and juice and mix well.  Pour filling into prepared crust. 
Tip: To cut down a bit on calories I used two packs of regular cream cheese and two packs of low fat (or fat free) cream cheese.  I also use a lower fat sour cream and non fat milk.  You still get the flavor but less of the guilt. 

4.  Place baking pan in a large disposable roasting pan (11x15 rectangular pan.  Large enough to fit baking pan.  Carefully ill edges of disposable pan with boiling water (without getting water on the cheesecake) and carefully place into oven.

5.  Bake in preheated oven for about 1 hour  to 1 hour 15 minutes. Turn the oven off, and let cake cool in oven with the door closed for 5 to 6 hours; this prevents cracking. Leaving the cheesecake in the oven for hours afterwards is key. It really works!

Chill in refrigerator until serving. 

Tip:  I usually bake it late at night so it just sits in the oven overnight and is ready by the next morning.
Serves: 20-25 (pending sizes of slices and how much you wanna hog the pie)

Don't you hate it when you're cutting the cheesecake and all the pieces come up with it, causing a big mess?
Heat the knife.  Pour hot (or boiling water) into a tall cup that fits your sharp knife.  Dip the knife into the hot water and wipe off.  Then, cut.  The cut will be smooth and easy.  Repeat.

I used a pastry bag to squirt fruit preserves on each piece of the cheesecake.  I happened to use strawberry, apricot, and blackberry but you can certainly use whatever your favorite flavors are.  I place three little blueberries on top for extra prettiness.


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