Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cherry Cheesecake Swirl Bars

Cherry Cheesecake Swirl Bars by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

I accept cheesecake in every form, except perhaps, intravaneously. It's always perfect for dessert. These Cherry Cheesecake Swirl Bars make a more casual cheesecake, one that would fill out a brunch menu instead of coffeecake, or maybe an afternoon smidge-of-something-sweet to tide you over until a late supper. They are creamy, pretty and impressive. Serve with black coffee.

Cherry Cheesecake Swirl Bars with Walnut Crust


1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup finely chopped nuts, such as pecans or walnuts, optional


2 (8 oz.) packages low-fat cream cheese (neufchatel), softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1/4 cup cherry preserves

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly butter either an 11 X 11 or 9 X 13 pan.

2. To make the crust: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and butter. Mix in the nuts, if using. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 12 to 15 minutes, until set. Remove from the oven and let cool.

3. To make the filling: in a medium-sized bowl, using a whisk, beat the cream cheese and sugar and sugar until smooth. Gently beat in the vanilla and eggs. Spread the filling over the crust.

4. Stir the preserves, warming if necessary to bake it spreadable. Spoon the preserves into a small plastic bag, snip off one corner of the bag, and pipe lines the length of the pan, slightly less than an inch apart. Use a knife to pull the preserves from side to side through the cream cheese mixture at 1-inch intervals.

5. Bake the bars for 20 to 22 minutes, just until the filling is set. The middle will wobble slightly. Remove them from the oven and run a spatula around the edges of the pan to loosen the filling; this will help prevent it from cracking. Cool for 1 hour at room temperature, then refrigerature until completely cool and firm. Yield 24 bars.

Cherry Cheesecake Swirl Bars by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

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