Need a crowd-pleasing, transportable dessert for a potluck? Cheesecake bars. An impressive-looking treat to set out for company? Cheesecake bars. A make-ahead sweet to enjoy throughout the week? Cheesecake bars.
This lemon-blackberry version is my latest favorite. The tangy, ultra-creamy filling sits atop a buttery, coconut-flecked shortbread crust, making every bite pure bliss. Try it first as directed, then switch it up and try a strawberry or raspberry variety.
I like to think of these bars as the easier, more weeknight-friendly version of a traditional cheesecake. Sure, they need a few hours in the fridge to firm up, but the process of making them is easy -- especially with the help of your food processor.
The base is a shortbread crust with a lemon-coconut twist. You'll combine the flour, powdered, sugar, toasted coconut, lemon zest, and salt in the food processor, then scatter cold butter over top and pulse until a dough forms. Unlike working the butter in with your hands, the food processor keeps the ingredients cold and makes for a tender crust.
As the crust bakes, you'll wipe out the food processor and use it again to puree the blackberries, then one last time to whip up the cream cheese filling. The fact that just one appliance pulls together this entire recipe truly delights me.
Oh, and as for the swirls: You'll be shocked at how easy it is to create such an intricate-looking pattern. (In fact, I got so overly confident after making these bars that I assumed I would be just as good at latte art. Turns out, that's not really how it works.) All you'll do is spread the blackberry cheesecake filling over the crust, dollop the plain filling over top, then swirl the dollops with a toothpick to create a marbled effect.
Makes 24 bars
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and at room temperature
Cooking spray or butter, for greasing the pan
For the filling:
2 pints blackberries
4 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1. Make the crust: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350 F. Spread the coconut in an even layer in a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan. Toast, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the oven.
2. Place the flour, powdered sugar, salt and 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add the toasted coconut, and pulse until combined. Scatter the butter over the top, and pulse until the mixture forms moist clumps.
3. Line the now-empty baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil so it hangs over all sides. Coat with cooking spray or butter. Transfer the dough to the pan and press into a thin, even layer that covers the bottom of the pan. Bake until just beginning to brown, 20 to 25 minutes; set aside to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 F.
4. Make the filling: Wipe out the food processor with paper towels. While the crust is baking, place the blackberries in the food processor and process until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a small bowl or measuring cup, pressing with the back of a spoon (you should end up with 1 cup purée). Discard the seeds and set the puree aside. Rinse out and dry the food processor.
5. Place the cream cheese in the bowl of the food processor. Process until very smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and salt, and process until incorporated, about 1 minute more. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the motor running, add the eggs one at a time until just incorporated. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice, and process until just combined.
6. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the cream cheese filling to a small bowl, and set aside. Add the blackberry puree to the remaining filling in the food processor and process until combined. Pour the blackberry filling over the cooled crust. Dollop the reserved plain filling on top (leaving space between each dollop), and swirl with a toothpick or skewer to create a marbled effect.
7. Bake at 325 F until the edges are puffed and set but the center still jiggles slightly, 30 to 40 minutes. Place the baking dish on a wire rack and cool completely, about 2 hours. Cover with foil and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight. Use the parchment paper or foil to remove from the pan, and cut into 24 pieces.
Recipe notes: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to five days.
This article is written by Grace Elkus from The Kitchn and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.