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This springtime dessert actually tastes like strawberries

Katie Leaird, America's Test Kitchen on

We found that trying to add fresh strawberries, whether chopped or pureed, directly to the filling compromised the creamy texture of the cheesecake layer and prevented the bars from setting up correctly. Instead, we pureed the fresh berries and stirred them into a sweetened sour cream topping that we spread over the almost-done filling. After letting the bars cool and chilling them, we garnished each square with one strawberry slice. The result was perfect — strong strawberry flavor with no sacrifice of the cheesecake’s signature creaminess.

Strawberry Cheesecake Bars

Makes 24 2-inch bars

Note: Be sure to let the crust cool completely before starting the filling.

For the crust:

9 whole graham crackers, broken into pieces

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

1 1/2 pounds cream cheese

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the topping:

6 ounces strawberries, hulled (1 heaping cup), plus 5 hulled strawberries

 

1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar

2 cups sour cream

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Make a foil sling for a 13-by 9-inch baking pan by folding two long sheets of aluminum foil; the first sheet should be 13 inches wide and the second sheet should be 9 inches wide. Lay sheets of foil in the pan perpendicular to each other, with extra foil hanging over the edges of the pan. Push foil into corners and up sides of pan, smoothing foil flush to pan. Spray with vegetable oil spray.

FOR THE CRUST:

1. Process cracker pieces and sugar in the food processor until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Add flour and salt and pulse to combine, about 2 pulses. Add melted butter and pulse until crumbs are evenly moistened, about 10 pulses.

2. Using your hands, press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Using the bottom of a dry measuring cup, firmly pack crust into pan. Bake until fragrant and beginning to brown around the edges, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely.

FOR THE FILLING:

1. In a clean, dry processor bowl, process cream cheese and sugar until smooth, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. With the processor running, add eggs, one at a time, until just incorporated, about 30 seconds total. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add vanilla and process to combine, about 10 seconds.

2. Pour cream cheese mixture over cooled crust. Bake until center is almost set but still jiggles slightly when the pan is shaken, about 45 minutes.

FOR THE TOPPING:

1. Meanwhile, in a clean, dry processor bowl, process 6 ounces strawberries and 1/2 cup sugar until pureed, about 30 seconds. Stir strawberry puree and sour cream in bowl until combined.

2. Remove cheesecake from oven. Pour strawberry mixture over cheesecake (cheesecake layer should be completely covered). Return pan to oven and bake until topping is just set, about 15 minutes.

3. Transfer pan to wire rack and let cheesecake cool completely, about 2 hours. Refrigerate until cold and set, at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. Slice remaining 5 strawberries thin and gently toss with remaining 1 teaspoon sugar in a bowl. Using foil overhang, lift cheesecake out of pan. Cut into 24 squares. Garnish each square with 1 strawberry slice and serve.

(For 25 years, home cooks have relied on America’s Test Kitchen for rigorously tested recipes developed by professional test cooks and vetted by 60,000 at-home recipe testers. The family of brands — which includes Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country — offers reliable recipes for cooks of all skill levels. See more online at www.americastestkitchen.com/TCA.)

©2024 America’s Test Kitchen. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



 

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