Red White and Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
One of the things that I miss most about being home in Kansas is my Grammy’s porch suppers on the Fourth of July. We rub extra butter on our corn on the cob, consume far too many ribs, and always end with a special, festive, homemade dessert like these Red White and Blueberry Cheesecake Bars.
While our main Fourth of July menu (ribs, baked beans, other foods that make America great) would remain untouched, dessert alternated. Most years, Grammy made classic shortcake (recipe right here), topped with blueberries, strawberries, and fluffy white whipped cream. On special years, she made the illustrious Strawberry Super Pie, a dessert of such magnificence, it could save the world—or at least make a table filled with dessert aficionados very, very happy.
Since I now spend my Fourth of Julys away from home, I wanted to bring a bit of our family tradition to Wisconsin by creating a festive dessert of my own to share with friends and family here “Up North.” The result: Red White and Blueberry Cheesecake Bars.
The love story of these festive bars begins as so many great dessert romances do: a buttery graham cracker crust. While I certainly adore a good, classic flaky pie crust, the delicious simplicity of mixing melted butter and graham cracker crumbs together to form an undeniably scrumptious dessert base appeals to me immensely, particularly in late June, when I’m settling into easy-breezy summer mode.
In keeping with this low-maintenance approach, I took a shortcut on the blueberry filling by using Lucky Leaf Premium Blueberry Pie Filling. It’s made without high fructose corn syrup, is rich with summer flavor, and saves time at the stove too.
In between the blueberry filling and golden graham cracker crust, we have an airy, lemony cheesecake. I incorporated Greek yogurt to keep it light, but the texture is still rich and the taste luxurious. I also love that this blueberry cheesecake is baked in bar form, instead of a giant springform pan. Bars are easier to transport and serve—plus, I don’t have to stress about unmolding them the way I do with traditional cheesecake—another victory for easy-breezy.
While these blueberry cheesecake bars are fit for any summer occasion, a two-second topping of sliced strawberries transforms them into the cutest dish at any Fourth of July gathering—or office. Ben brought the leftovers into work, left them unattended by the file cabinet, and they were gone before 10 a.m.
While I still have a way to go before I’m ready to throw a Fourth of July porch supper that will rival my Grammy’s, with these Red White and Blueberry Cheesecake Bars, I at least have my dessert ready. Maybe we can just eat cheesecake and call it it meal?
Red White and Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
For the Crust:
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs — (about 8 full graham cracker sheets)
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter — melted
For the Cheesecake:
- 2 packages reduced fat cream cheese — (8 ounce packages, do not use fat free), at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt — at room temperature
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 2/3 cup Lucky Leaf Premium Blueberry Pie Filling
- Sliced fresh strawberries
- Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, allowing some of the foil to hang over the sides. Set aside.
- Prepare the crust: Break the graham cracker sheets into a food processor or blender. Process until the crackers are fine crumbs, then add the powdered sugar and pulse once more to combine. Drizzle in the melted butter, then pulse until the crumbs are evenly moistened, then press into the bottom of the foil-lined pan. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool as you prepare the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
- Prepare the filling: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl, beat the softened cream cheese for one full minute, then beat in the sugar for 3 additional minutes, until smooth and creamy. Beat in the yogurt, then the eggs, one at a time, fully combining between each and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary Beat in the vanilla extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
- Once the crust has cooled, pour half of the cheesecake filling over the crust and smooth. Dollop the pie filling over the crust and swirl lightly with a knife (the cheesecake base will not be completely covered). Top with the remaining cheesecake batter.
- Bake the bars in a 325 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the filling is mostly set but still soft and barely jiggles in the center when the pan is wiggled. Remove the bars from the oven and let cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Refrigerate until completely cooled, at least 3 hours.
- Just before serving, lift the cheesecake out of the pan using the foil. Top with sliced strawberries. Cut into squares and enjoy.
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More festive ways to bring red, white, and blue to your table:
- Red, White, and Blue Quinoa Fruit Salad
- Sangria in Rose, Bourbon, and Blue from A Farmgirl’s Dabbles
- Fourth of July Ice Cream Cones from Roxana’s Home Baking
- Red, White, and Blue Sliders from Lauren’s Latest
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