Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Bars
There’s something dreamy about this cheesecake bar — maybe it’s the soft yellow hue of the lemony cheesecake against the dusky blue of fresh blueberries or maybe that soft buttery top. You could say it’s the zing of bright lemon or maybe the union of a buttery graham cracker crust against luscious and sweet cream cheese.
Whatever it is — it just plain works, and my granddaughter and I are able to agree this recipe combines her LOVE of blueberries with my taste for lemon beautifully. Also, a little goes a long way towards satisfying your craving fro cheesecake, so I don’t feel guilt over breaking my diet. I found it originally off of Betty Crocker, and llike most things Betty it has become a favourite in my house.
You really can’t start any cheesecake bar without making the perfect graham cracker crust. Crumbled up graham crackers, sugar, melted butter and lemon zest is all you’ll need. We use our food processor twice for this recipe, something that to be honest, we rarely do. We usually go the appliance-free route because we hate doing dishes, but in this case, it’s crazy easy when you use that food processor! If you don’t have one, though — add the graham crackers to a plastic bag, find something heavy and bash the heck out of them until fine crumbs then you can just stir everything else in with a spoon.
The base gets thrown in then patted down into a baking pan and baked just until it toasts. Then, you can make the luscious lemony cheesecake filling!
Cream cheese, eggs, sugar as well as lemon juice AND zest come together for the filling. We rarely use citrus juice without using the zest these days — you can add so much flavor with that zest. It’s heart breaking to see others throw it out!
If you’re like me and are a zest lover — buy fresh citrus and give them a wash just to make sure nothing funky goes into your dessert. I find working with lemon at room temperature gives you that nice tang in flavour.
Give the food processor a quick rinse and use it for the second time to get our filling super smooth. If you don’t have a food processor or you just don’t feel like pulling it out from behind everything else in your pantry, you can totally use a hand blender.
After a few pulses, you’ll be left with a light yellow creamy filing (so pretty). Then, pour that on top of the baked crust, top with fresh blueberries and finish everything off with one of our favorite things — streusel. How can you go wrong with butter, sugar and flour?
Bake then allow to cool — in fact, if you’re okay with a little extra waiting time, once cool throw the whole pan into the freezer for 30 minutes to really firm up. This way, you can cut perfectly even cheesecake bars for when you want to present as a gift or during a dinner with friends.
- For the Crust
- 9 graham cracker rectangles
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- For the Cheesecake Filling
- 2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
- For the Streusel Topping
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
- Heat oven to 325°F then lightly spray an 8- or 9-inch square pan with non-stick cooking spray or grease with butter or oil.
- If you have a food processor, add graham crackers, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon lemon zest to it then cover and process until fine crumbs form. Add the melted butter then cover and process with until the cracker crumbs are evenly moistened.
- If you do not have or want to use a food processor, add graham crackers to a plastic bag then use something heavy such as a pan or rolling pan to bash the crackers until fine crumbs form. Then, add crumbs to a medium bowl along with 2 tablespoons of sugar, lemon zest and melted butter. Stir until the cracker crumbs are evenly moistened.
- Press graham cracker crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan and bake 10 minutes until lightly toasted. Cool 10-15 minutes.
- While the graham cracker base cools, make the cheesecake bar filling: If using a food processor, wipe it with a paper towel to remove any crumbs from earlier then add cream cheese, eggs, 2 tablespoons lemon zest, the lemon juice and 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. Cover then process until smooth and creamy.
- If you do not have or do not want to use a food processor, use a hand blender to blend cream cheese, eggs, 2 tablespoons lemon zest, the lemon juice and 1/2 cup of granulated sugar until smooth and creamy.
- Pour cheesecake filling over crust, and then top with blueberries.
- Make the streusel topping by adding brown sugar, flour and cold butter to a medium bowl then use a fork or your fingers to mix until crumbly, and then sprinkle over filling.
- Bake cheesecake 35 to 40 minutes or until topping is lightly browned and center is almost set (center should jiggle only slightly when moved).
- Cool 1 hour on at room temperature then refrigerate about 1 hour or until chilled. Cut into 9 bars.