July 21, 2022

I wrote about these cheesecake bars before and they were topped with cherries. They are so good, and the season for sour cherries so fleeting, I thought I’d give you another version with the more ubiquitous blueberry. This is a great take along dessert. Also a perfectly delicious breakfast. No judging. Sadly, what they aren’t is PHOTOGENIC. Ahem. I tried topping them with confectioners sugar but it melted into the topping and did the appearance absolutely no favors. Ugly but delicious.


Makes sixteen 2-inch square bars

for the fruity topping

1 pint (375 g) blueberries

1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar, or more, to taste

1 tablespoon lemon juice (zest before juicing)

2 teaspoons cornstarch stirred together with 1 tablespoon water

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

for the cookie base

7 tablespoons (100 g) unsalted butter, malleable but not too soft

1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1 cup (120 g) all purpose flour

1/4 cup (25 grams) finely chopped almonds

scant 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

for the creamy filling

4 ounces (113 g) full fat cream cheese

1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F with the oven rack in the center. Line a 9- by 9-inch square baking pan with foil leaving some overhang.

Make the filling. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir the blueberries and juices together with the sugar and lemon juice. Smash a few of the berries to get the juices flowing. Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a strong boil. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the cornstarch mixture. Bring to a boil and cook for exactly one minute, until thickened. Remove the pan from the heat and scrape the topping into a bowl. Chill over an ice bath or place in the freezer for the 10 minutes or so it takes to make the rest of the recipe.

Mix the cookie base by hand using a stiff spatula and your muscles or use a stand or hand mixer. Add the butter, sugar, lemon zest, and salt to the mixing bowl and beat until fluffy and lightened. Use a few swift stirring motions to thoroughly incorporate the flour and almonds. The dough will be short (buttery) and crumbly. Press it into the pan using your knuckles or a metal cup measure. Pack it firmly. Place in the refrigerator while making the creamy filling.

In a medium bowl using a stiff spatula (or the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and lemon zest. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and almond extract. There should be no visible clumps of cream cheese.

Assemble the bars. Use an offset spatula to spread the creamy filling evenly across the shortbread base. Use a tiny spoon to drop bits of blueberry filling across the cheese. If necessary, use the offset spatula to make it even-ish. Some cheese will show through here and there. That’s ok!

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the filling is set. The edges may be browned. Cool in the pan and then chill (in the pan) in the refrigerator for a good hour before lifting the entire bake by that handy foil overhang.

Trim the edges to square up the pieces if you’re getting fancy. Cut into cookies, using a long slicing knife and cleaning the blade between cuts.

Serve cold. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

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