These Strawberry Cheesecake Bars taste so good, they took a little work but it was worth every second!
Strawberry Cheesecake Bars
Everyone knows that going to the grocery store hungry is a bad idea. Going to a warehouse store hungry is way worse and when you and your husband are both hungry and wander into the bakery section, things can get really ugly. Spending a $150 on a whole bunch of stuff that we are never going to eat before the expiration date isn’t a good idea. The last time it happened, a tray of cheesecake bars wound up in the cart and got buried in the fridge. We ate a few of them and then they were forgotten until Joe got a craving. Of course, they were past the expiration so he got cranky and started moping.
Joe is an exceedingly good moper, so once that starts I have to do something to make it stop. I didn’t want to go buy a whole tray of cheesecake bars so I did what I always do in this situation and went to Pinterest to see what I could find. This Valentine’s Day Cheesecake from Dessert Now Dinner Later was almost exactly what I was looking for. I decided that with a couple of tweaks, Joe would get the strawberry cheesecake bars he was craving.
This isn’t a complicated recipe but there are several steps so it takes some time but the end result is so worth it!
I started with the crust so it have time to cool once it came out of the oven. I lined an 8×8 pan with foil and greased it really well so it was easier to get the bars out when they were done. I dumped nilla wafer crumbs and melted butter in the bottom then stirred them with a fork until combined. I mashed the mixture into the bottom of the pan then threw it in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
While the crust was baking, I started on the strawberry sauce. I put my fresh strawberries (frozen are totally OK!), sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and turned on the heat.
I let the strawberry mixture cook for a while so the strawberries softened on gave up their juices. I mashed them down to get as much of the juice I could then went after them with my immersion blender until it was liquified. I managed to shoot a bunch of really hot strawberry mixture out of the pan all over my arms, that hurt so be careful if you go that route. When I was done with that (and had run a whole bunch of cold water over my burns) I poured it through a wire strainer to get rid of the seeds and any berry chunks I missed.
Right about this time, the crust came out of the oven. I was a little concerned about it, it looked sort of cracked and soft. I considered starting a new crust but I didn’t start with a full box of nilla wafers and I sort of ate the rest while I was putting all of this together. I decided that I could work with what I had and if it didn’t turn out well, I would be *forced* to make another batch to perfect the crust!
I washed the pan and poured the strained mixture back in, then put it back on the heat. I went a little wrong at this point. I mixed the water and cornstarch together then wandered off for a while before adding it to the pan. It thickened up and when I added it, there were a few lumps. I went after it with a whisk and *thought* I got rid of them. I set the pan in the fridge on a pad and moved on to the last part.
I threw the softened cream cheese in my kitchen aid with the whisk attachment and whipped it up until it was nice and smooth. Then I dumped in the rest of the ingredients and turned it back on. When it was all combined, I dumped it over the top of the crust and spread it out until it was as smooth as I could get it.
Remember those lumps I thought I got out of the strawberry sauce? Yeah, those kept clogging up the tip of the squeeze bottle while I was trying to get some nice even dots on the top of my bars. I’d try to squeeze a little harder and a tiny lump would pop out followed by a huge splat of sauce. It wasn’t pretty y’all but I did finally manage to get them mostly where I wanted them.
I made a sort of mess with the toothpick part too since my dots were uneven but I wasn’t really that concerned about it, I planned on eating the whole thing as soon as it was ready!
I got out my 9×13 pyrex and put it in the oven, put the 8×8 in the middle of it and slowly added water to the 9×13 until it was about halfway up the sides of the 8×8.
I closed the oven and baked it at 280 degrees for an hour then turned off the oven and left the pans in there.
Y’all this needs to hang out in the oven for 2 hours after you turn it off. I had an appointment that afternoon and totally forgot about it when I got home. I finally remembered and yanked out the 8×8 and put it in the fridge to cool down.
I pulled them out after dinner and sliced them up. I was really nervous about the crust but it turned out perfect, sweet and crispy. I had to hide some to save for the pictures (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) but we dove into these like we hadn’t eaten anything for a week. These were the absolute best cheesecake bars I’ve ever eaten.
Joe has already asked for more of these in that hopeful tone of voice and I’m inclined to give in to this craving quickly. This isn’t a quick and easy recipe but y’all if you have a little time and want something amazing, these won’t disappoint!
- 1 Cup Nilla Wafer Crumbs
- 6 Tbsp Butter, Melted
- 2 Cups Strawberries, fresh or frozen
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1 Tbsp Corn Starch
- 1 Tbsp Cold Water
- 12 Oz Cream Cheese, softened
- 1/3 Cup plus 2 Tbsp Sour Cream
- 1 Egg
- 1/2 Cup Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
- Zest from 1 Lemon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine nilla wafer crumbs and butter in an 8x8 baking dish lined with foil and greased well. Mix and press into a single layer at the bottom of the pan.
- Bake crust for 15 minutes and set aside.
- Lower oven temperature to 280 degrees.
- Add strawberries, sugar and lemon juice to a medium saucepan and heat until strawberries soften.
- Mash the strawberries to release juices then puree the mixture until smooth.
- Strain the pureed strawberries to remove seeds, foam and any remaining strawberry lumps.
- Return the strained mixture to a clean saucepan over medium heat.
- When mixture begins to boil, combine the cornstarch and water then add to the pan.
- Continue heating strawberry mixture until it boils and thickens, remove from heat and place in refrigerator on a hot pad for 10 minutes.
- Put the softened cream cheese in a mixer with the whisk attachment and beat until cream cheese is smooth.
- Add sour cream, egg, sugar, lemon juice and zest then let mix, scraping down the sides, until combined.
- Pour the cheesecake mixture over the baked crust and spread until even.
- Fill a squeeze bottle with the cooled strawberry mixture. Squeeze dots in rows down the cheesecake. Use a toothpick to draw a line through the center of each dot, without lifting, until the end of each row.
- Set the 8x8 dish in a 9x13 dish and place in the oven. Carefully add water to the 9x13 until about halfway up the sides of the 8x8.
- Bake at 280 degrees for an hour. Turn the oven off and leave the pans in the oven for another 2 hours.
- Remove the 8x8 pan and refrigerate for an additional 2 hours.
- Lift the foil from the pan, place on cutting board and slice bars carefully.
- Serve with additional strawberry sauce.
Recipe adapted with permission from Dessert Now Dinner Later