Sour Cherry Cheesecake Bars


As it always goes, my trip to Texas flew by so fast I barely know where the last two weeks went. I enjoyed such a sweet time with my family and friends, the most beautiful weather imaginable, and copious amounts of unforgettably delicious food. My kids transformed into perfect little Texans. My city girl Juanita turned country overnight: splashing in the creek, dominating the dogs, and grooming with the horses like a pro. Attilio accidentally ate a fiery-hot jalapeño and was terrified of all food for the rest of the day. He eventually recovered, and discovered that he loves tacos and BBQ as much as any full-grown cowboy.

Like always, I stocked up on some new cookbooks and immediately tried out this new recipe from The New Sugar and Spice: A Recipe for Bolder Baking by Samantha Seneviratne. These bars turned out so well I can’t wait to try the rest of the recipes in her book.

So, stay tuned for more recipes, and meanwhile check out my instagram feed for pictures and stories from my trip!

Sour Cherry Cheesecake Bars

by Samantha Seneviratne from The New Sugar and Spice: A Recipe for Bolder Baking

For the compote

  • 3 cups (425 g) pitted sour cherries, thawed if frozen
  • 1/3 cup (65 g) sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs. cornstarch

For the pastry

  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (65 g) sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 3 large egg yolks

For the cheesecake

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides.

To prepare the compote, bring the cherries, sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and salt to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the cherries are very tender, about 5 minutes, then crush them in the pan with a potato masher. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and about 2 Tbs. of the juice from the cherry mixture. Add the cornstarch mixture back into the saucepan and simmer until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the compote cool slightly. It should be the consistency of a loose jam. Reserve 1-1/2 cups of the compote for the bars.

To prepare the pastry, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the egg yolks and pulse just until the mixture is evenly moistened but still somewhat sandy. Sprinkle a little bit more than half of the flour mixture in the prepared pan and press it down into an even layer. Bake until set and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool slightly.

To prepare the cheesecake layer, whisk together the cream cheese and sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in the egg.

Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the baked bottom crust. Drop the cherry compote in dollops evenly on top of the cream cheese mixture and then gently spread it out, keeping the cream cheese layer in place as best you can. Sprinkle the remaining flour mixture on top, squeezing it to make some clumps bigger than the others.

Bake until the cheesecake layer is set and the topping is deep golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack. To serve, cut around the edges to loosen them from the pan, then use the parchment to lift the uncut bars out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Use a long sharp knife to cut into bars.

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