Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Lately, I have been keeping a habit of stocking up on butter, all-purpose flour, bread flour and cream cheese. Yes, butter — I use it often in cooking and baking. To melt butter, make sure you keep the heat really low — you don’t want to brown the butter or have ‘smoky’ butter. A Julia Child trick is to add a bit of olive oil, if your pot is too hot. On a lighter note, I would totally accept unopened sticks of butter as gifts!

This recipe was originally from The Complete Canadian Living Baking Book. I uncannily made a mistake on the sugar portions — I added too much sugar in the cream-cheese layer, so I compensated by adding less to the lemon mixture. I found that 1 1/4 cups was a bit much; I used 1 cup of sugar instead. Instead of icing sugar as the decorative touch, I used unsweetened shredded coconut. While it was impossible to find “lemon social tea cookies” in the original recipe, I used 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs and followed the rest of the instructions.

PREPARING THE BASE:
2 cups of cookie crumbs (graham cracker crumbs are used here)
1/2 cup butter, melted

Mix cookie crumbs with melted butter in a bowl for about 30 seconds, press firmly against lined 9 by 12 inch baking tray. Bake 12 minutes in a preheated 325 F oven. Let pan cool on wire rack.

Alternate option: If you have digestive cookies handy, pulse using a food processor. Pulse or stir crumbs in butter until moistened. Use your fingers to gently press into the prepared pan. Bake for 12 minutes @ 325 F. Let cool in pan on rack.

CHEESECAKE LAYER:
1 package of cream cheese, softened (rest at room temperature for at least half an hour)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg

In bowl, beat cream cheese with sugar until smooth; beat in egg. When the crust is relatively cool to the touch, spread cheesecake layer over base. Tip: use a rubber spatula and spread the filling as evenly as possible.

LEMON FILLING:
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
2 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
1/2 cup lemon juice (approximately between 2 and 2 1/2 lemons)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp icing sugar (or unsweetened shredded coconut)

In bowl, beat eggs with sugar until thickened. Beat in lemon rind and juice, flour and baking powder until smooth; pour over cheesecake layer. Bake in centre of 325F oven until edges are set and lightly browned, about 35 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack.

Makes 60 bars

Enjoy with tea or coffee. It is definitely an easy treat to bake to bring to the office! The bars can be kept refrigerated for up to 5 days or over-wrapped in heavy duty foil and freeze for up to 1 month.