Cherry Cheesecake Bars
My mom asked me if I would make cherry cheesecake for her birthday dessert this year. Her mom, my Nana, used to make it for her on her birthday. It’s our first year without Nana, so I wanted to honor her request. This recipe is special to me because it is my take on Nana’s cheesecake, in her memory.
I opted to make it into cherry cheesecake bars because our family is so big that I needed to stretch it to serve 20! 🙂 This recipe makes quite a lot, so it is great for a large gathering or potluck.
What I remember most about my Nana’s version is that it was intensely lemony. She loved anything lemon. I wanted to keep the lemon flavor without going too extreme and overshadowing the cherries. I also ditched the canned cherry filling in favor of simple frozen cherries quickly cooked into a homemade cherry topping. It adds just about 10 minutes to the process, but cuts out food coloring, hfcs, and preservatives while giving a better cherry flavor. If you have fresh cherries available though, by all means, use those!
Most of the time, I prefer a baked cheesecake, but there’s something special about a soft, cloud-like mound of cheesecake filling. An offset spatula does the trick here for easy, even spreading over the graham cracker crust.
Even without the artificial coloring, you still get a beautiful deep burgundy color for the topping. That shiny cherry topping is so pretty! I kept the sweetener minimal here in an effort to really highlight the cherry flavor.
After just a couple hours in the fridge, the filling sets up nicely. They are firm enough to cut into bars, but still very light and soft. The texture almost melts in your mouth, thanks to the fresh whipped cream. For the record, my mom loved them and they were quickly devoured by the whole family. I hope you’ll try these cherry cheesecake bars the next time you’re looking for a crowd pleasing dessert! Or just something to make for your mom on her birthday. 🙂
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Cherry Cheesecake Bars
A simple, no-bake cherry cheesecake bar. These are light and creamy with lots of homemade cherry topping and a buttery graham cracker crust.
- 24 oz. Frozen cherries pitted
- ¼ cup Sugar
- 1 T. Corn starch
- 1 T. lemon juice
Graham Cracker Crust
- 2 cups Graham cracker crumbs
- 1 stick Salted butter melted
- 3 8 oz blocks of Cream cheese, softened
- 1 ½ cups Powdered sugar
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
- 2 cups heavy cream
- ½ cup sugar
For the Cherry Topping
In a medium saucepan, whisk sugar and cornstarch.
Add cherries and lemon juice and cook over medium heat.
Stir frequently, for about 10 minutes, or until it reaches a simmer and begins thickening slightly.
Set topping aside to cool.
For the Graham Cracker Crust
In a 9x13” pan, stir the melted butter and graham cracker crumbs until well mixed.
Spread out evenly and press down with the bottom of a measuring cup.
For the Cheesecake Filling
Beat the cream and sugar together on medium until you reach stiff peaks. Set aside.
Beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla until smooth.
Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture gently until well mixed.
Spread filling mixture over the crust evenly.
Cover with cooled Cherry Topping and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
Cut into 20 bars and serve cold. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Note: Recipe can be halved and made in an 8x8" dish instead.