I have a confession to make: I'm addicted to trying new things in the kitchen. I can't help
it, I see every mini party or afternoon guest a great opportunity to try out a new recipe. Every invitation to dinner is like an invitation to my own personal Food Network Challenge. Some in my position would dust off a tried and true recipe, spending time choosing favorite gluten-free cake that has established itself as a pastry the gluten-eaters in my life have already loved rather than working on something new. But no. I like to make things difficult.
So completely from scratch patriotically themed cheesecake bars? No sweat. With ingredients not bought until T-minus 5 hours to party time? Not a problem. I might like to make things difficult, but I don't like to make difficult things, and lucky for me, these some assembly required bars were actually pretty easy to put together.
Cheesecake has always seemed daunting, but this one was assembled all in one bowl. One bowl?! You mean I get cheesecake and a mini scale clean up? Sold.
The best part about these cheesecake bars is that they didn't taste gluten-free. Not one little "Waiter, is there a navy bean in my cheesecake?" little bit. I mean, just look at that crumbly crust! When my mom's gluten-eating friend asked me for the recipe at her husband's insistence, well I knew I had unbridled cheesecake type success on my hands.
Summer tis the season for outdoor get togethers. Hot weather just begs for eating outdoors, grilling, and tempting fruity desserts. People may think dessert means chocolate, it might be what they say that want, but set out a plate of fruity, creamy, lemony bars and they'll disappear every time, trust me.
Red, White, and Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
inspired by RecipeGirl's Red, White and Blueberry Cheesecake Bars and adapted from Smitten Kitchen's Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake (who adapted the cheesecake from Three Cities of Spain Coffeehouse)
1 box Cherrybrook Kitchen GF Vanilla Graham Mini Cookies
4 tablespoons of Earth Balance (or butter) melted
2 Tablespoons of sugar
1/8 teaspoons of salt
12 oz neufchatel or lowfat cream cheese
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2/3rd cup sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1 cup fresh blueberries (more or less as desired)
1/2 cup chopped strawberries (more or less as desired)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 inch pan (or a 5x9 inch pan) with aluminum foil, lightly greased with cooking spray.
In a blender, blend the cookies in the blender a quarter of a package at a time, until the cookies are ground into a fine crumb. Pour in to the bowl with melted butter and mix in salt and the 2 Tablespoons of sugar. Press the mixture firmly over the bottom of the pan to make an even layer of cookie crumb and set aside.
In a medium sized bowl, beat neufchatel until fluffy with an electric mixture, adding the eggs one at a time. Beat in sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and zest until fully combined.
Spread the cheesecake mixture over the top of the crust. Scatter berries evenly and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until you touch the center of the cheesecake and find it just set.
Let cool for 10 minutes before placing in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. When completely cooled, cut bars and lift them from the aluminium foil covered pan and onto a serving plate. (Or transfer bars before cutting, if easier.) Share and enjoy! :)