Blackberry Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Serves Makes 1 8×8 pan, serves 9

Ingredients
For the blackberry puree
6 ounces fresh or frozen blackberries
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup water
For the crust
12 full sheets of graham crackers (2 cups crumbs)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons salted butter, melted
For the cheesecake
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon zest, or more
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
fresh blackberries and lemons, to garnish

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Set your cream cheese, sour cream, and eggs on the counter.

Start with the blackberry puree. In a small saucepan, combine blackberries, 1/4 cup sugar, and water. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Boil for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, then lower the heat to medium. Continue to stir every now and then for 5-8 minutes. Break up the blackberries with the back of your spoon. The syrup should be thickened. Set aside to cool, or throw it in the fridge.

Meanwhile, make the graham crackers crust. Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor (or smash them with a rolling pin) until they are very fine crumbs. Add the sugar and melted butter to the food processor (or mix it in a bowl) and pulse until it looks thoroughly moistened, like wet sand.

Line an 8×8 inch pan with foil or parchment paper, if you want. (you don’t have to, it’s just easier to cut if you can lift it out.) Use the bottom of a glass to press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan (not up the sides). Bake at 350 F for about 9 minutes. Set aside to cool. Lower the oven temperature to 325 F.

In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, salt, and lemon zest. Beat on high for 3 or 4 minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom at least twice. You want the cream cheese to get high and fluffy.

Add the sour cream and beat. Add the eggs in one at a time, beating in between. Add the fresh lemon juice and beat until smooth.

Once your graham cracker crust is not too hot to touch, pour the cream cheese mixture into the pan. Smooth it out with a spatula.

Use a spoon to dollop the blackberry puree all over the cheesecake. Use a sharp knife to swirl it together. Remember, less is more. You want to be able to see the white cheesecake on top, not just blackberry.

Bake at 325 F for 55-60 minutes. Keep a close eye on it toward the end. When you shake the pan, the center should not be jiggling any more than the outside edges. (The cheesecake will definitely jiggle, it’s not completely set yet. Just make sure it’s not sloshy in the middle.) If the cheesecake starts to brown on top, definitely take it out.

Let cool for at least an hour before putting it in the fridge. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, covered. Garnish with lemons and blackberries.

Recipe Notes
If you don’t like blackberry seeds, strain the puree through a mesh sieve after it cools down.

This cheesecake might crack. They’re bars though, so who cares? They’re like cheesecake’s kid sister, they don’t need to be quite so grown up. But if you don’t want it cracking then feel free to look up some water bath options.

All images and text © The Food Charlatan

it’s berry season again . . .

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