Cheesecake Bars with Simple Strawberry Vanilla SaucePrint Print Without Images
Farmer Rob declared that he only wanted a tiny piece of dessert, but after one bite of this cheesecake, he already stated he needed another piece! This recipe is courtesy of Smitten Kitchen, who got it from a 1999 copy of Gourmet Magazine, who got it from a long-closed Santa Fe restaurant. In other words, it’s stood the test of time! It’s perfect for the holidays as it serves a crowd, but I love it because it’s not too sweet, super simple to prepare and lighter than a standard cheesecake. I topped it with fresh strawberries and my new favorite preserve, Strawberry Vanilla sauce. The topping possibilities are endless. Feel free to pile on any of your favorite fruit in season, Caramelized apples or pears would be perfect for fall, swirl in a fruit sauce like here, or just drizzle with a chocolate or caramel sauce.
For the Crust
- 2 cups graham or digestive cracker crumbs
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons salted or unsalted butter, melted, browned if you wish
- A pinch or two of salt
For the Cheesecake
- 1 1/2 pounds (3 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- 2 cups sour cream (regular or light, don’t use non-fat)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
To Serve With
- Simple Strawberry Vanilla Sauce
- Boozy n’ Berry Sauce from Taste of the Okanagan
- Caramelized Apples
- Caramelized Pears
Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line bottom and sides of an 9×13-inch rectangular baking pan with 2 sheets of foil or parchment paper (crisscrossed), leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides.
Make crust: Combine crumbs, sugar, butter and salt in a bowl with a fork until evenly mixed. Press firmly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
Make cheesecake: While crust is baking, beat cream cheese until fluffy with sugar, then beat in eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly mixed, scraping down the sides and bottom of your bowl between each addition. Beat in vanilla. Pour over prepared crust (still hot is fine) and bake for 25 minutes, until puffed but still jiggly like Jell-O when shimmied. Let cool on rack for 5 minutes, and while it does…
Make topping: Whisk together sour cream, sugar, and vanilla. Drop spoonfuls of topping all over bars and spread gently in one thin layer. Bake bars with topping for 10 minutes.
Set pan on a cooling rack and let cool; refrigerate at least 2 hours or ideally overnight.
To serve: Use foil sling to carefully lift bars out of pan and transfer them to a cutting board. If you can, carefully slide them off their foil — this should be doable, I used a few wide spatulas and managed to get it off quite easily. If it cracks, just cover it with berries! Cut gently into 2×2-ish-inch squares with a serrated knife. Keep leftovers in fridge. Repeat again next weekend.