It’s no secret that I am an unadulterated cheesecake fanatic. If it’s on a menu, I can’t turn it down. It’s my birthday cake of choice, and I’ll come up with the most obscure excuses to bake one up at home. I love trying new varieties when out, and experimenting with new recipes when at home. If there ever happens to be time when I don’t want to make a full-blown cheesecake, I’ve found cheesecake bars to be a more than acceptable substitute. In some cases, they’re (gasp) even better. You can pick them up and eat them without a plate and a fork, and you don’t feel nearly as guilty if you eat multiple pieces (I speak from experience, of course). In the past, I’ve whipped up Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars, Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares, and Eggnog Cheesecake Bars, all of which were amazing. With summer on our doorstep, I was salivating just thinking about the bright, fresh flavors of cheesecake bars loaded with lemon and blueberries. Cheesecake is my favorite dessert, and blueberries are absolutely my favorite fruit, which makes them a match made in heaven!
Last Sunday, my mom and I had a marathon garden-planting day, which included a 2-hour trip to Lowe’s. We had a list of plants we definitely wanted to buy, and then, of course, we impulse-shopped like nobody’s business. Among those impulse purchases? A beautiful blueberry plant. Although berries grow wild around many parts of the area we live in, I’ve never attempted to actually grow fruit myself. All of those little budding blueberries were too much to resist, and I snatched it up faster than a cute pair of shoes. Hopefully in a couple of months I can walk out onto the deck and grab the blueberries for my oatmeal (or my latest baking project), instead of going to the fridge and opening a plastic container!
In the meantime, I’ll trek to the grocery store for blueberries if the end result is a plate full of cheesecake bars infused with lemon and loaded with blueberries! Hello summer!
Have any of you grown blueberries (or strawberries or blackberries) before? Any tips?
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9x9-inch baking pan with butter. Line the pan with parchment paper, letting excess hang over the sides of the pan.
Make the Crust: In a food processor, process the graham crackers, sugar, and cinnamon until you have the texture of bread crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse a couple of times to fully incorporate. Press the mixture into the lined baking pan and gently pat down evenly. Bake for 12 minutes, until golden. Set aside to cool.
Make the Filling: Wipe out the food processor. Add the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, lemon zest and lemon juice. Process until well combined. It should have a smooth consistency. Pour the filling onto the cooled crust and then sprinkle the blueberries over top. The blueberries will sink slightly, but should still be half exposed. As they bake, they will sink a little more and break down.
Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until the center only slightly jiggles. Remove from the oven and cool completely to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. Once set, remove from pan using the parchment lining and slice into 16 square bars.