Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars are perfect anytime of year, for any occasion. Like Wheel’s recent birthday. He now loves dessert — a fact that amazes me since he never did before. Take it or leave it and most times he would leave it. But a moderate sweet tooth has definitely made its appearance! I think it is because we’ve eliminated all the overly sweet cookies, cakes (and thick, sugary icings!), etc from our diet. Everything tastes better now. Especially a great fruit and cheesecake dessert for a birthday treat!
Just a hint of lemon, a delicious layer of big blueberries surrounded by creamy cheese cake on a crunchy bed of graham crackerness (yeah, totally a word!) topped with a crumbly struesel top and slivered almonds. Oooommm…… that’s wonderful.
Use fresh blueberries if possible because they will retain shape, color and texture better than frozen. Though if frozen is all that is available, don’t let that stop you. Just prepare for results not quite like the picture! Blueberries are a favorite around here and I nearly always have them on hand, but I think other fresh berries would also be good with this recipe. Baking the graham cracker crust for a few minutes, firms it up and makes it more crunchy underneath the cheesecake. True confession — I generally skip this and just firmly press the graham cracker mixture into a pan sprayed with cooking spray before adding the filling. You know I’m impatient that way — though it creates a different dessert experience to take that extra step.
Make the struesel topping before the filling. Prepare the filling, pour it into the pan over the graham cracker crust, add the layer of plump blueberries and straight away sprinkle generously with the premade topping and slivered almonds. Moving quickly from one step to the next helps the blueberries say on top of the creamy filling. When you remove the baked dessert from the oven, set it aside to cool for about an hour. Then refrigerate for an hour or so. Or place it in the freezer for thirty minutes or until firm and well chilled. This make the dessert firm enough to slice and serve. It also allows the full flavor to develop. And you don’t want to miss any of this deliciousness!
- 9 graham cracker rectangles, crushed (1-1/4 cups of cracker crumbs)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (optional, but use for optimum flavor)
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (optional)
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup sugar
- 1½ cups blueberries
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ¾ cup flour
- 6 tablespoons butter, cold
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Lightly spray 9 inch square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- Crush graham crackers, by placing them in heavy plastic bag and rolling over them with rolling pin until they become fine crumbs. Pour into medium bowl, add sugar, lemon zest and melted butter, and stir until well mixed. OR use food processor: Add graham crackers, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon lemon zest to bowl of food processor. Process until fine crumbs form. Add melted butter, cover and process until blended.
- Press graham cracker crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan and bake until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes. Cool 10 to 15 minutes before adding the cheesecake layer.
- Make the topping by adding brown sugar, flour, and cold butter to a medium bowl. Cut the butter into slices and then add them to the bowl. Using your fingers or a fork work the butter into the flour and sugar until crumbly.
- Set aside while you prepare the cheesecake layer. When cheesecake and blueberries are in the pan, scatter topping over the blueberries.
- Place all filling ingredients - except blueberries - in medium bowl. Using mixer, combine all ingredients and then beat until creamy and smooth.
- IF using food processor: Wipe the food processor to remove graham cracker crumbs with a paper towel then add cream the cheese, eggs, 2 tablespoons lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar. Process until smooth and creamy.
- Spoon cheesecake filling over crust.
- Top cheesecake with even layer of blueberries. Immediately sprinkle topping across cheesecake and berries. Sprinkle almond slices on top.
- Bake until topping is lightly brown and center almost set, 35 to 40 minutes. Center may still be slightly jiggly when pan is shaken.
- Cool 1 hour at room temperature, then refrigerate 1 hour or longer until well chilled. OR put in freezer for 30 minutes.
- Cut into 9 bars.
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