May is truly my favorite time of year. The warm sunshine makes me feel so good being outdoors and enjoying nature. Whether it’s going for a walk or watching the roadrunners and quail stop by to feed in our backyard, it’s the simple things that make me happy. This month has gone by way too quickly and now the Memorial holiday is upon us signaling that summer is just around the corner. I hope you all have a festive weekend and enjoy your time relaxing with family, friends or nature. I’ve been craving something cherry and decided to make some Cherry Cheesecake Bars for the weekend. What a great dessert to cap off the weekend! It’s easy to make and a crowd pleaser for any get together!
I made a graham cracker crust for an 8 inch square baking dish but it would also fit into a 9″ pie plate as an alternative option. This is easy to make ahead of time as it will need to cool completely before adding the cream cheese filling and cherry pie glaze.
I enjoy making my own cherry pie glaze plus I think it just tastes better. If you want to use a canned pie filling, that’s okay too. If I had fresh cherries I would have used them but the next best thing is frozen cherries. You’ll need 3 cups of cherries along with lemon juice, sugar, vanilla and cornstarch.
Add the cherries to a medium sized heavy bottom pot and add a spritz of lemon juice. Heat on medium and stir the pot as the cherries begin to thaw.
Within a few minutes the cherries begin to thaw and release their juices.
Add sugar and vanilla to the cherries and stir the pot as the sugar dissolves.
The last step is to add the vanilla as well as the cornstarch one tablespoon at a time stirring between each addition. Continue stirring as the pie glaze thickens.
Pour the pie glaze into a bowl, cover and refrigerate. It needs to cool completely before topping the pie.
Set the cream cheese out on the counter to reach room temperature. Add 16 ounces or 2 boxes of cream cheese in a mixing bowl. I used a hand mixer to whip the cream cheese until it was smooth.
When the cream cheese is whipped sufficiently, add about half of the powdered sugar in with the cream cheese and blend well. Repeat with the remaining sugar and blend until the mixture is smooth.
This is how it should look once the powdered sugar has been blended in. Add a spritz of lemon juice to the mix and blend well.
Lastly add the whipped cream a little bit at a time folding in with the cream cheese mixture.
Keep adding and folding until all the whipped cream has been incorporated.
When the graham cracker crust and pie glaze have cooled, it’s time to fill start adding layers. Add the cream cheese filling over the graham cracker crust.
Pour the cherry glaze evenly over the cream cheese mixture. The bars cut better when chilled for a few hours or overnight.
Cherry Cheesecake Bars
Graham Cracker Crust
1 1/2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs (about 1 sealed package of graham crackers)
1 tablespoon Sugar
6 tablespoons Butter, melted
Make graham cracker crust by pulsing 1 wrapped package of graham crackers in a food processor until you have coarse or fine crumbs, whatever you prefer. Add the sugar and melted butter, mix on high until all the butter has been distributed throughout the crumbs. Pour the crumbs into a 8 inch square baking dish and press crumbs onto the bottom of the dish. Place into a preheated 375 degree oven for 7 – 8 minutes or until crust is crisp and lightly browned. Let crust cool completely.
Cherry Pie Glaze
3 cups Frozen Cherries
1/2 cup Sugar
3 tablespoons Cornstarch
Spritz of Lemon Juice
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla
To make the cherry pie glaze, add the cherries to a medium heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Spritz cherries with lemon juice and continue to stir as the cherries heat up. As the cherries begin to release their juice add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add vanilla and the cornstarch one tablespoon at a time, stirring after each addition. Continue to stir as the cherries thicken and becomes a glossy cherry pie glaze.
Cream Cheese Filling
16 ounces or 2 boxes of Cream Cheese, set to room temperature
8 ounces Cool Whip or Whipped Cream
1 cup Powdered Sugar, sifted
Spritz of Lemon Juice
In a mixing bowl using a hand or stand mixer, whip softened cream cheese until smooth. Add about half of the powdered sugar and beat until blended with the cream cheese. Add in the remaining sugar and blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Add a spritz of lemon juice and mix well. Begin to fold in the whipped cream a little at a time. Continue adding and folding until all the whipped cream has been incorporated and the mixture is creamy.
To assemble bars: When the graham cracker crust and cherry pie glaze is sufficiently cooled, spread the cream cheese filling evenly over the graham cracker crust. Pour the cherry pie glaze over top and spread evenly. Chill for 3 – 4 hours or overnight before cutting bars.
Makes 9 servings.