Raspberries and cheesecake are a classic combination that you’ll find frequently on menus, even though raspberries come in the form of a coulis more often than they show up as whole berries. But when raspberries are in season, I prefer to use them as much as I can and these Raspberry Cheesecake Bars are one delicious way to do just that.
Raspberries are known for their sweet-tart flavor, which contrasts well with the rich tanginess of the cream cheese in a cheesecake. This recipe is no exception. Dense, creamy cheesecake is studded with whole fresh raspberries that are folded into the batter just before baking. The berries hold their shape well in the oven, giving the bars a kind of polka dot appearance, lending their sweet-tart flavor to every single bite. The bars look great and they taste even better.
I will admit that I bake cheesecake bars much more frequently than I bake whole cheesecakes and that is because the bars are so much easier to make. For this recipe, the shortbread crust takes only a few minutes to mix together and it is pressed into a rectangular baking dish. While the crust bakes, you can prepare the cheesecake layer, which is poured onto the shortbread base while it is still hot from par-baking.
This method produces bars that are light and creamy, with a wonderfully buttery base – and you’ll be done with all your mixing, baking and cleanup in under an hour. I do recommend allowing these bars to chill in the refrigerator before serving, as the cheesecake will continue to set up a bit in the refrigerator and tastes best when it is cold.
These bars will keep well for a couple of days in the fridge, but they are at their best a day or two after baking. Since they contain fresh fruit, the berries may start to release a little liquid after that, compromising the texture of the leftovers (even though they’ll still be tasty). Frozen raspberries can be substituted in this recipe, but fresh raspberries are my preference because they have less extra moisture to worry about. Still, frozen berries will work in a pinch and, if you’re using them, they should be used from frozen.
Raspberry Cheesecake Bars
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
16-oz cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
Prepare the crust: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add in butter and mix until mixture resembles wet sand and no large pieces of butter remain. Press crust mixture firmly into prepared pan.
Bake for 16-18 minutes, until crust is set and begins to brown around the edges
Prepare the filling: In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese, sugar, eggs, salt, milk and vanilla until very smooth. Fold in raspberries (you can set aside a few to add to the top, for extra color) Set aside until crust is done baking. While the crust is still hot from the oven, pour cheesecake filling over it, using a spatula to ensure the mixture spreads into the corners of the pan and that the berries are evenly distributed.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cheesecake is set. Allow bars to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until well-chilled before slicing and serving.
Makes 20 bars.