Saturday, July 30, 2011

The latest baking obsession

Berry cheesecake bars... i found a recipe for "Blueberry Dessert" in a vintage cookbook full of blueberry recipes.  The steps and directions were a wee bit vague, and i had my own ideas, so i started tinkering, and this is where we ended up:
The original version had just a graham cracker crust (which proved to be far too sweet), a thin cheesecake layer, and a suggestion to top with blueberry sauce.  I didn't fancy topping it with a sauce, and the cheese wasn't going to amount to much, so i decided to chuck the berries into the filling.  I used blueberries the first couple times, but this time around, i opted for blackberries i'd picked on the mountain.

It's not too shabby.  You don't want to muck about with anything low-fat here: fat is pretty much the point of this recipe, so stick with the real thing on the cream cheese.  If you're feeling really guilty, you could maybe shave the amount of butter in the crust - i think i'll experiment with that in the next batch.

The thing i'm quite liking about this recipe (aside from eating the bars, of course) is that it's super-simple to put together, and quick once you've smashed up the graham crackers. (You could, i suppose, cheat and buy the crumbs that you can find in the store, but why pay somebody extra for a task that's a great stress reliever if you do it yourself?)

So, the recipe (which has wandered considerably from its point of departure):

Berry Cheesecake Bars

16 graham crackers
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter (one stick)
1 package cream cheese (8 oz.)
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 c. of fresh berries

Crush the graham crackers into crumbs.  [For reference, this recipe counts the roughly square section as one cracker, so it's eight of the long, rectangular sort - worked out to one inner pack in the box i bought, but i also know from using other old recipes that the number of crackers in an inner pack has decreased over time, so i've developed a certain degree of paranoia about figuring out the amount a recipe really requires...]  Mix 1/4 c. sugar into the graham cracker crumbs in a small bowl.  Melt the butter, and pour it over the crumb mixture.  Stir, then press into an 8"x8" square pan.  Set aside someplace inaccessible to cats.  About now is a good time to preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cream the cream cheese (you did remember to soften it, right?) with 1/2 cup sugar.  In a separate bowl, beat the eggs well, then add the eggs and vanilla to the cheese mixture.  Blend well, then pour over the graham cracker crust.  Sprinkle the berries - whatever sort you choose - into the cheese filling once it's in the pan.  Top with nutmeg.  (The nutmeg is important.  I forgot it on the second batch, and definitely missed it.... bonus points for fresh grated, of course.)  Bake until the berries start to burst, the edges are just browned, and the middle is set - something on the order of 45 minutes.  Cool and cut - i've been cutting a pan into 16 squares, because it's pretty rich stuff.  I've also been storing them in the fridge because of the cheese and the fruit - none of it has lasted long enough to get fuzzy, but why chance wasting any?

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