The other night, we were having dinner with a friend when she asked if I found myself more drawn to cooking or baking. We talked about it for a while and, while I really would describe both as passions, they each fit into my life in different ways. Cooking is about expressing variety and creativity. Experimenting and sky's the limit are the norm. But when it comes to baking, it's about chemistry and using standards to put together something delicious and sweet (mostly sweet when it comes to baking for me). So that becomes something almost comforting for me. I bake to relax and I cook to stretch creatively. Two passions that fulfill different roles in my life and complement one another very well.
And so, as the week comes to an end, I feel inspired to share something sweet. But not one of those fussy desserts. Something rich and simple. Fussy will be here soon enough with the holidays fast approaching. So instead, I leave you for the week with Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars. What really makes these special, in my opinion, is the inclusion of lemon curd. If you don't happen to have any, you could just increase the lemon juice to 1/3 cup and bake as directed, but there's something simply magical about the richness and depth of flavor that the lemon curd brings to the bars. I thought I'd share it before my mood turns to baked goods with pumpkin and caramel or dishes meant to be served warm. Enjoy and see you here next week!
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 1/8 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 9 graham crackers
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 c. lemon juice
- 1/4 c. lemon curd
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries -- fresh will bleed less, so favor them
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Spray the bottom of a 9 by 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. In a food processor, process the sugar, cinnamon and graham crackers until you have the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse a couple of times to fully incorporate. Pour into the prepared baking pan and firmly pat down with the bottom of a glass. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until set.
Meanwhile, add the cream cheese, eggs, lemon juice, lemon curd and sugar to the food processor and pulse until well combined. It should have a smooth consistency. Pour onto the cooked graham cracker base and then sprinkle with blueberries. They will sink slightly but should be half exposed.
Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the center only slightly jiggles. Remove from the oven and cool completely before Refrigerating for at least 3 hours. Once set, slice into 10 rectangular bars.
- Yields: 10 servings
- Preparation Time: 4 hours, including chilling time