Saturday, August 9, 2014

Fresh Raspberry Cheesecake Bites

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I love berry season . . . We grow our own blackberries, and boysenberries, but when our local grocer has fresh red raspberries on sale . . . Well . . . I'm all over them! Tart! Sweet! Flavorful! Nothing can hold a candle to the taste of fresh, red raspberries!

Note: When purchasing red raspberries, you want to buy the dark red berries. The light red berries are not ripe and are less flavorful.

Tip: If you live in Arizona and have a lemon tree, you can use your lemons this time of year. Choose the largest ones you can find on your tree. I look for those with a tinge of yellow on them. We are using them in baking and also in making lemonade.

This recipe has lots of my favorite things . . . Buttery shortbread cookie crust . . . a thick smear of raspberry jam . . . lemony cheesecake filling . . . juicy, red, ripe, raspberries . . . and a dusting of powdered sugar!

FRESH RASPBERRY CHEESECAKE BITES - makes up a 9" x 13" x 2" cake pan or 40 bites

For the crust:

1 cup butter (2 sticks) cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

2 cups unbleached flour

Softened butter to brush the foil and sides of pan

For the filling:

3/4 cup of seedless jam or preserves (I used wild black raspberry jam my kids and grands picked and canned!)

1 pint or 2 cups of fresh red raspberries

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese

1/2 cup pure cane sugar

1 tablespoon unbleached flour

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons finely grated lemon peel

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Powdered sugar

  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Line a 9x13x2-inch baking pan with 21-inch long piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, leaving the extra foil extending over the ends, and down the outside, to lift the bites from the pan; set aside (see 1st photo in Making Crust Collage).
  • In a large bowl ~ Beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until it just begins to blend and soften slightly, about 30 seconds.
  • Add brown sugar, and salt ~ Beat on low speed until incorporated, 30-seconds to a minute. You are not creaming the sugars and butter, just mixing it together.
  • Add 2-cups flour ~ Beat on low until flour is incorporated.
  • Increase speed to medium; mix until ingredients come together (see 2nd photo in Making Crust Collage).
Note: People tend to undermix shortbread, and it becomes crumbly.

  • Break dough into small chunks and distribute into an even layer, pressing it with your fingers (see 3rd photo in Making Crust Collage).
  • Bake 20 minutes or until dough has begun to puff and is just set.
  • Cool on wire rack 5-minutes.
  • Lightly brush exposed sides of foil and pan with softened butter, to keep filling from sticking (see 4th photo in collage).
  • Spread jam over crust, small offset spatula works best (see Working with Jam and Berries Collage).
  • Sprinkle evenly with raspberries (see Working with jam and berries collage)
  • With a fine micro plane or lemon zester, remove peel from washed lemon (do this right before baking for the best flavor).
  • In a large mixing bowl ~ Beat softened cream cheese on medium for 30-seconds (see Making and Spreading Your Filling Collage)
  • Mix in cane sugar, and tablespoon of flour.
  • With mixer running ~ Add eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla; beat until smooth.
  • Pour custard batter evenly over berries; gently use your offset spatula to distribute custard between berries (see Making and Spreading Your Filling Collage). Don't spread the custard up to the edges of the pan.
  • Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes or until barely set.
  • Place on a wire cooling rack to cool completely (about 1-hour).
  • Cover and transfer to refrigerator for at least 2-hours.
  • Use foil to lift bites from pan.
  • Slide a knife, spatula, or stainless steel peel between crust and foil; slide onto cutting board.
  • Cut cheesecake into long bars; and then into bites.
  • Dust with powdered sugar.
  • Makes 40 bites!

Making your crust-

Working with your jam and berries-
Making and spreading your filling-
Custard is just set and ready to cool.

Once cooled on wire rack, slide cheesecake off foil using a sharp knife, spatula, or metal peel to loosen from foil.

Slide baked dessert onto a cutting board.
Cut cheesecake into long bars . . . .

These Fresh Raspberry Cheesecake Bites are so worth the effort! And they are the perfect way to accentuate the wonder flavor of ripe, juicy, red raspberries! I divided my "bites" into those for now . . . and those for later! A couple "bites" will more than satisfy your craving for raspberries and cheesecake! Some went into my fridge, but most went in single layers, into freezer containers. They will be perfect to pull out when I want a quick bite of summer . . . Over at Julie's!!!

And then into small bites! Dust with powdered sugar.

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, May 2011.


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