Saturday, May 19, 2012

Strawberry Cheesecake Bars

With summer here, that can only mean one thing...strawberry season! Okay, strawberry season starts in the spring but summer is the time where we can eat strawberries all day, everyday. That's how things are in my house at least. I bought a four pound container of strawberries yesterday and intend to make ridiculous amounts of strawberry goodness. I started with strawberry cheesecake bars. I felt like doing something nice for my sister since she's done a lot for me lately. She is a huge fan of strawberries so this was the perfect dessert to make. If you thought I loved strawberries, you definitely haven't met my sister. She is a vicious strawberry devourer, no joke.

Back to the strawberry cheesecake bars, it starts with a standard graham cracker crust layered with a strawberry banana cream cheese filling and topped with a cinnamon streusel. The crunchy goodness from the streusel and graham cracker crust gives great texture to the bars and it makes these bars addictive. See the picture to the right? Need I say more?

I made a chocolate chip cookie cheesecake bar a few months back and this recipe was a play off of that. You're probably wondering where the post for that recipe is? Well, it was eaten so quickly, I didn't even have a chance to take a picture. No picture, no post. I know, sad day but it will be made again one day in the near future!

To give the bars an added layer of flavor, I chopped some additional strawberry pieces throughout the cheesecake batter so you know for sure it was a strawberry filling!

Strawberry Cheesecake Bars
adapted from Bakers Royale

1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup sugar
8 tablespoons of butter

Cheesecake Filling
6 oz strawberries, pureed (about 1 cup of whole strawberries)
4 oz banana, pureed (about 1 whole banana)
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons of butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 salt

1. (for crust) Place graham cracker crust and sugar in a bowl and toss to combine. Add in melted butter and mix to combine. Press mixture onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 7-10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool while making cheesecake portion.
2. (for cheesecake) Place strawberries and banana in a blender or food processor and pulse until pureed; set aside. Place cheesecake, sugar, egg and vanilla extract in a bowl and beat until fully combined and smooth. Add in pureed strawberry mixture and mix to combine. Add in dry cake mix and mix to combine.
3. Pour mixture over crust (optional add in whole fruit to cheesecake mixture) and bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees F. Make streusel while cheesecake bakes.
4. Remove pan from oven after 30-35 minutes and sprinkle streusel on top. Return pan to oven and bake for another 12-15 minutes. Remove and cool shortcake bars before cutting.
5. (for streusel) Place all ingredients in and using a pastry blender or a fork, cut butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles crumbled wet sand.

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