Every Christmas since I can remember and probably long before that, my mother has made 7-Layer Magic Cookie Bars, and now I do as well. Those are more of a wintery, cold weather treat because they’re heavy, with the condensed milk and all, and sticky so eating them in warm weather would be very irritating indeed. Why am I talking about Christmas in July? Because this post is about “cookie-bars”, treats that are quick and able to go anywhere.
Now while 7-Layer Magic Cookie Bars may remind me of winter, cookie-bars made made with lemon or lime, or fresh fruit, are a distinctly summery treat. They’re really easy to make and, like cookies, are portable enough to put in a Tupperware or even a Ziplock and bring to the park or beach or a picnic, or a birthday party in a classroom. They’re less messy to bring than cupcakes and cake for an on-the-go type of day, and slightly more exciting and different than regular brownies.
Now… combine cheesecake and cookie-bars and you’ve got me sold.
LEMON CHEESECAKE SQUARES WITH FRESH BERRIES*
Get the following ingredients:
- 9 whole graham crackers
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Fresh berries of your choice* (blueberry, blackberry, strawberry or raspberry will suffice, but are also optional… I used blueberries as you can see)
Then do the following with them:
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Fold 16-inch long piece of foil to 8×16-inch strip; place in 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan, leaving overhang on 2 sides. Repeat with another sheet of foil in opposite direction, lining pan completely. Butter foil.
- Place graham crackers in a heavy-duty plastic bag. Using rolling pin or mallet, crush crackers finely. Melt butter in medium skillet over low heat. Remove from heat; add crumbs and toss to coat.
- Press crumbs evenly in bottom of prepared pan. Bake crust until deep golden, about 12 minutes. Cool crust while preparing filling.
- Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in egg and sour cream, then lemon juice, lemon peel and vanilla. Spread batter over crust.
- Bake cheesecake until slightly puffed and set in center, about 30 minutes; cool completely in pan on rack. Chill cheesecake until cold, about 2 hours. (can be made one day ahead, cover & keep chilled)
- Using foil overhang as aid, lift cheesecake from pan. Cut into 16 squares; arrange on platter. Top each square with fresh berries. Chill until ready to serve, up to 3 hours. Serve chilled.
*Like I said, totally optional.
I gave them a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar as well, just to add a little more sweetness as they’re sorta tart due to the lemon juice and zest.
These are really refreshing and make an excellent summer dessert. A+!