Monday, July 6, 2015

Birdie Bites - Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Any of my friends and family will tell you that I have a serious sweet tooth. And a non discriminating one at that. From berry cobbler, to chocolate cake, to creme brulee, I basically want to eat it all. But, since it is summer after all, I've had a particular craving for something fresh and zesty as per late. Looking to the fruit in my fridge for a bit of inspiration, I came up with this recipe for creamy, delicious blueberry lemon cheesecake bars. It involves a little bit of work to whip up, but the end result is totally worth it!

I have to say, these dessert bars are kind of amazing. With a buttery shortbread crust, creamy lemon cheesecake, and a swirl of sweet blueberries they basically scream summertime. Cool, fresh, and not overly sweet they make a perfect treat for the end of a hot day. I find that the bright notes from the fruit really cut through the richness of the cheesecake, which makes them even easier to gobble down.

I developed this recipe from one I discovered on pinterest by Jenn's Random Scraps. With my household of one in mind I altered this recipe to be friendlier for a smaller pan (specifically a square 8x8 or 9x9). If you have a family to feed, or are entertaining guests you may want to check out the original recipe (linked below) which makes a more traditional sized batch. However, if you're craving a little sweet treat but don't want to go overboard, this scaled down recipe is absolutely perfecct.

Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Makes 9 large bars
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 45 minutes total


For the Crust:
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp salt

For the Blueberry Filling:
1 pt fresh blueberries
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Zest of half lemon*

For the Cheesecake:
1 package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
Zest of half lemon*

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Lightly grease a square baking dish (9x9 or 8x8)

Begin by preparing the crust layer. In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar together until smooth. Stir in salt and flour and mix until the dough comes together. Gently press dough into your greased pan, creating an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes.

While your crust is baking, prepare your blueberry filling. Combine blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and zest in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until berries are softened (about 5-10 minutes), stirring occassionally. Set aside to cool.

To create your cheesecake layer, beat together cream cheese, sugar, and lemon zest until creamy and well blended. Add the vanilla and egg and mix until well incorporated.

Spread cheesecake mixture over the warm shortbread to cover the pan evenly. Dollop blueberries over the top of the cheesecake**, and use a knife to swirl the two layers together. Bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until the cheesecake layer is set at the center.

Let bars cool, then chill for an additional 1-2 hours or until bars are completely set before slicing.

Adapted from Jenn's Random Scraps.

*If you are a lemon fan, you can easily ramp this recipe up by adding more zest. I tried to adapt this recipe so that only one lemon was necessary, but if you have more on hand you can easily add more zest to any of the layers (including the shortbread layer).

**This recipe yields more blueberry filling than you will probably need for the bars. If you save your leftovers they'd be absolutely delicious on pancakes or with cream cheese on a bagel. Or you could just devour them with a spoon (I promise I won't judge).

If you're a bit of a baking newb I promise these aren't as difficult to throw together as it may seem. Probably the biggest factor in baking successfully is attention to detail. Measure carefully, mix your ingredients in the proper order, and keep an eye on the clock! I've got quite a few tips and tricks up my sleeve, so if you have any concerns or questions, post a comment and I'll be happy to help you out. For example, I highly recommend juicing your lemon over a small pinch bowl, rather than over the sauce pan with the blueberries. You can much more easily fish out rogue seeds that way!

If you make these cheesecake bars I'd love to hear what you think! If you happen to snap a pic for twitter or instagram, share it with the hashtag #birdiebites so I can take a look. I'd love to see what you guys come up with! Hopefully you'll find them to be equally as tasty as I have.

Also, how do you guys feel about the occasional break from beauty related posts? I personally think it's nice to switch things up every now and again. As much as I love my makeup or a good facial mask, I think it's fun to share some of my other hobbies with you guys. What would you like to see more of? Recipes? Craft projects? I'm curious to hear your feedback.

In the meantime, I hope your weeks are all off to a good start. My Monday was the most Monday of Mondays, but I'm trying to keep the energy up. I've got lots of fun posts I'm working on, so I can't let my 9-5 take too much out of me!