Ok guys, its time for true confessions, here. Do you have any fears? See, I do. I’m afraid of anything wriggly other than puppies & kitties. I have a thing about going too fast in cars, especially around drop-offs after rolling a car down a cliff. And. Most. Of. All. Wait for it: I’m afraid of cherry pie filling. Ummhmm. You heard it right. Cherry Pie Filling.
That’s why these Cheery Cheesecake Bars are made with a luscious but easy Home-made Cherry Pie Filling. That filling is smoothed over a layer of cheesecake all atop a crispy shortbread crust. Best of all, a bit of that shortbread is saved out to sprinkle over the top of everything and forms a crispy, crunchy streusel-like topping. These bars are a thing of beauty.
There’s no overly cooked, overly sweet filling in these tasty bars. If you’d really rather, go ahead and grab a can or jar of cherry filling and I’ll never tell…but take 15 minutes or so, sit down and find your zen pitting cherries, and I think you’ll thank me later. A cherry pitter isn’t expensive and really makes the job go easier – and some little medical type gloves help keep your hands from getting stained.
I used Bing cherries and they’re big, dark juicy cherries. They cooked up to a jammy deliciousness. I can also really see a smaller red cherry or a sour cherry in these bars, too. I think they’d be perfect for any summer holiday, then: all red & white.
Buy whatever cherry is in season or on special. Stock up on cream cheese and butter during any holiday week (freeze if necessary) and pay about half price for it. When the next holiday rolls around, do the same. If you go with a canned filling, look for sales with coupons (again, you’re likely to find them during holidays, especially big baking holidays like Christmas and Easter.
Cherry Cheesecake Bars
Note the base is baked and cooled before the bars are assembled, and after cooking, the bars are at their best chilled.
For the base & topping
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks cold butter in small cubes
- 1 egg
For the filling:
- 2 1/2 packages of cream cheese (8 oz packages) room temperature (20 ounces total)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 recipe home-made cherry pie filling or a 21 ounce can
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9×13″ baking pan.
In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add flour, sugar, baking powder & salt. Pulse several times then cut in the butter. When crumbly, add egg and pulse. (Mixture will still be crumbly.)
Alternatively, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder & salt. Use fingers, two knives or pastry cutter to blend in the butter until crumbly. Then add the egg and mix together well. (Mixture will still be crumbly).
Press about two thirds of the dough into the prepared pan, building it up just a bit on the edges. Pat dough as evenly as possible, and press down gently but firmly.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the bottom has puffed just a bit and the edges have picked up the slightest bit of color. Set on a wire rack to cool completely before proceeding.
In the meantime, make the cream cheese filling:
Using an electric mixer, beat the softened cream cheese & sugar until smooth, two to three minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating and scraping the bowl after each until just incorporated. Add the almond extract.
Spread the cream cheese mixture gently over the cooled crust. An offset spatula is handy for this. Spoon the cherry pie filling in an even layer over the cream cheese mixture. Crumble the remaining dough evenly over the cherry layer.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the top is light golden brown. Cool completely to room temperature, then chill if desired. Bars may be kept for several days in the refrigerator.
Note: we preferred the bars chilled rather than at room temperature.
|Amount Per Serving|
|% Daily Value *|
|Total Fat 21 g||33 %|
|Saturated Fat 13 g||67 %|
|Monounsaturated Fat 3 g|
|Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g|
|Trans Fat 0 g|
|Cholesterol 97 mg||32 %|
|Sodium 239 mg||10 %|
|Potassium 32 mg||1 %|
|Total Carbohydrate 36 g||12 %|
|Dietary Fiber 1 g||3 %|
|Sugars 17 g|
|Protein 5 g||11 %|
|Vitamin A||15 %|
|Vitamin C||1 %|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
I’ll be bringing this recipe to Fiesta Friday 178. Stop by and see all the fun posts and recipes (hint: you may find something for the 4th of July) and stop back on Tuesday to vote for you favorites.