Wednesday, June 2, 2010

BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE BARS

Blueberries, a popular item throughout our state, are one of North Carolina's state symbols. When I lived in the Garden State (New Jersey), I grew my own blueberries. Just two bushes produced all our family needed for the year, with enough to give away to friends and neighbors. But I didn't plant blueberry bushes when we moved to New Bern because our development is a bird sanctuary. We are loaded with birds, and I love them all. I didn't want to fight them to get to the fruit. And, anyway, it's pretty easy to get blueberries around this town. There are farms nearby where you can pick your own, like Nelson's in Bridgeton, a short 10-minute ride. Grocery stores carry local produce, including blueberries, or you can buy from the farm stands that are scattered throughout our area. The farm stand on Lowe's Boulevard has blueberries from Nelson's at the best price I've seen anywhere. So there's no shortage of these wonderful little blue balls of nutritional sweetness.

I've found a super-easy dessert you can make with your blue gems. Blueberry Cheesecake Bars are light and luscious, a great party dessert. They're easy to pick up and eat, no need for fork and knife. They stay together, don't crumble easily, and are easy to get out of the pan. I love the intense blueberry flavor. Really, you must try these soon.

Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
Adapted from kraftfoods.com
Bear Rating:  9.5 out of 10
PRINTABLE RECIPE
INGREDIENTS:
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 cup graham crackers
1 cup almonds
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) Philadelphia brand Neufchatel cheese
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla powder (or vanilla extract)
1/8 tsp. almond extract (optional)
1 jar (10 oz.) Wild Maine Blueberry Preserves (or plain blueberry preserves)
1-1/4 cups fresh blueberries

Heat oven to 350F.  In work bowl of food processor, pulse almonds and graham crackers till finely ground.  Pour melted butter into a 13x9-inch baking pan.  Pour almonds and graham crackers over top.  Mix together with a spatula.  This is about as easy as it gets.
 Press firmly onto bottom of pan.  Refrigerate till ready to use.
Wipe out work bowl of food processor with damp paper towel.  (It doesn't have to be perfect.)  Combine Neufchatel cheese and sugar in work bowl and pulse till combined and creamy, scraping down sides as needed.  Add eggs, one at a time, pulsing till combined after each addition.  Add flavorings and pulse till combined.  Making cheesecake in a food processor is super easy.
Stir preserves in jar till softened (if necessary, nuke briefly to soften).  Spread preserves evenly over chilled crust.  Sprinkle blueberries over preserves.

Top evenly with cream cheese mixture.  The cream cheese mixture will just barely cover the berries.  In fact, the larger berries will be peeking out at you.  Bake about 30 minutes, or until slightly puffed on the edges.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack.  Cut into 4 rows by 6 rows for 24 bars (roughly 2-1/4" each), or 5 rows x 7 rows for 35 bars (roughly 1.8" each).  Store leftovers covered in fridge.

Look at how beautifully the first slice came out of the pan.  No crumbles, no mess.
These are so delicious.  Everyone loved them.  Two thumbs up, way up!

4 comments:

  1. Blueberries and cheesecake are a perfect combination. It looks delicious.

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  2. I absolutely adore cheesecake and this is a simple but delicious looking recipe. I can't wait to try this. Will it work the same with other berries?

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  3. Cupcake -- I was wondering the same thing myself. Raspberries with raspberry jam, blackberries with blackberry jam. I'd skip the cranberries though. Please let us know if you try a different berry. I can't see why it wouldn't work. Berries and cream are a great combo.

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  4. Goodness this this ever look GOOD! I love blueberries so this has a ton of appeal to me, plus in a cheeseake...be still my wanton heart!

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