Strawberry Lemon Cream Cheese Bars
My ideal picnic date would include a wedge of cheese, a bottle of wine, and a plate of these velvety, bright Strawberry Lemon Cream Cheese Bars.
With a buttery shortbread crust, luscious lemon cheesecake filling, and a sweet center of strawberry jam, these Strawberry Lemon Cream Cheese Bars taste of sunny afternoons spent lounging on a blanket in the grass. Life is easy, the breeze is gentle, and summer feels as if it will last forever more.
I baked these Strawberry Lemon Cream Cheese Bars after a long weekend spent working on house projects with Ben. A year-and-a-half ago, we bought Ben’s childhood home from his parents, and it’s taken us that amount of time to appreciate and embrace the labor and love that goes into keeping a house in good order. After a winter’s worth of procrastination, we’re finally purging basement of clutter, washing windows, and handling pesky tasks like mowing and weeding.
Well, Ben mows. I bake lemon cheesecake bars to enjoy afterwards.
When I’m covered in dirt and battling with a particularly stubborn patch of dandelions, it’s easy for me to fantasize about what life would be like if we’d bought a condo instead of a house. Is a spacious garage and counter space worth the hours spent splitting hostas and keeping woodpeckers at bay?
Certainly a condo would be easier, but I am also beginning to appreciate the sense of permanence and even pride our home gives me. When I bake lemon cream cheese bars in our kitchen, it is truly our kitchen. And when I want to picnic? I have a shady spot on a freshly mowed lawn right outside of my door!
These Strawberry Lemon Cheesecake Bars are a perfect dessert to enjoy at a backyard picnic of your own or to bring to a party or potluck. They’re simple to make, easily transportable, and can be picked up and polished off with nothing more than your fingers.
The lemon cheesecake layer is an easy one-bowl blend of light cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and Phil’s Fresh Eggs. Over the past few months, I’ve been paying closer attention to the eggs that I buy and have noticed a clear difference in quality between standard eggs and those that come chickens that are humanely raised in a cage-free environment like Phil’s. The cage free eggs have thicker shells, their yolks are deeper in color, and their taste is noticeably better too.
Whenever I choose better ingredients, I feel better about the food that I am putting into my body and that I am serving to my friends and family. I also love supporting family-run business like Phil’s, which is still operating on the original site where Phil started it in the 1950s. This year, I’m excited to be partnering with Phil’s to create a series of tasty recipes using their fantastic eggs. You’ll start seeing one recipe a month here on Well Plated, and I know you are going to love Phil’s eggs as much as I do!
I also suspect you are going to love these Strawberry Lemon Cheesecake Bars as much as I do.
Whether you bring them to a Memorial Day party this weekend or devour them in a quiet moment alone in front of your refrigerator, their luscious texture and bright, summery flavor is a sweet addition to any day.
Tools I used to make this recipe:
- 8×8-inch baking pan
- Parchment paper
- Beater blade batter attachment (used with KitchenAid stand mixer—it scrapes down the bowl for you!)
Strawberry Lemon Cream Cheese Bars
For the Shortbread Crust:
- 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour — or substitute all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter — cut into small pieces
For the Lemon Cheesecake:
- 16 ounces light cream cheese, — (two 8-ounce blocks) softened (do not use fat free)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/4 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt — at room temperature
- 2 large Phil's Fresh Eggs — at room temperature
- 1 large Phil's Fresh Egg yolk — at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup strawberry preserves
- Fresh sliced strawberries — and/or lemon slices for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8 x 8 inch pan with cooking spray.
In the bowl of a food processor (or in a medium mixing bowl if not using a food processor), lightly pulse the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat pastry flour, powdered sugar, ¼ teaspoon lemon zest, and salt. Add butter pieces and pulse just until mixture is crumbly and resembles coarse cornmeal. (If not using a food processor, cut butter pieces into the dry ingredients with a fork or pastry blender.) The mixture will feel dry to the touch. Press the mixture onto bottom of the prepared pan. Bake 20 to 22 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside to cool for at least 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large mixing bowl), beat together the cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and granulated sugar until smooth. Add the egg and beat just until blended. Mix in the fresh lemon juice, cornstarch, vanilla, and remaining ¼ teaspoon lemon zest. Beat well.
Spread preserves over the cooled shortbread. Pour the cream cheese mixture over preserves, spreading to edges. Bake an additional 28 to 32 minutes, or until the cheesecake appears set on top and only jiggles slightly when you wiggle the pan. Let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Cover and chill 4 to 8 hours. Cut into bars and garnish with whipped cream and fresh strawberry slices.
Nutrition InformationAmount per serving (1 bar) — Calories: 195, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 61mg, Sodium: 153mg, Carbohydrates: 23g, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 16g, Protein: 4g
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If you liked these Strawberry Lemon Cream Cheese Bars, be sure you don’t miss these other summer desserts:
I am sharing this post in partnership with Phil’s Fresh Eggs. Thanks for supporting the brands and companies that make it possible for me to continue creating quality content for you. To learn more about Phil’s, you can visit its company website and Facebook page too.
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