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Lemon Cherry Cheesecake Bars and New Things

July 17, 2009

So, I finally did it yesterday: I baked the lemon cherry cheesecake bars I’ve been meaning to bake forever. And the verdict? Not as great as I was hoping, particularly regarding the crust, which instead of being shortbread-y or pastry-like, turned out really crumbly and tastes like graham cracker crust, despite the absence of graham crackers. Also, it was all very sweet. A little too sweet, actually, especially with the crust.

HOWEVER, I did get to use up half the lemon curd and half of those cherries and the lemon-cherry-cheesecake flavors blended very nicely. Really, it was just the crust that was disappointingly sweet and crumbly (not to mention terrifically difficult to get out of the pan!).

Here is my recipe anyway, in case you happen to love crumbly graham cracker crusts. And butter. There’s lots of butter.

Lemon Cherry Cheesecake Bars

1  1/2 sticks butter, chilled & cut into small pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (the graham culprit, I presume)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk together dry ingredients. Cut in/rub in chilled butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. (Now, this part is not a part of the original recipe, but I didn’t do it and I think it would help with the crust sticking to the glass pan:) Line a 9×13 glass baking dish with aluminum foil. Pour mixture into pan and press into bottom and 3/4″ up the sides. Bake for 20 mins or until crust is golden brown.

16 oz. cream cheese (that’s two packs, people!), softened
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup fruit preserves (OR: appx. 2 cups lemon curd and appx. 3 cups halved cherries – cut fruit before making crust as it will take forever)

Whisk/beat cream cheese, eggs, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Spread preserves/curd/fruit over HOT shortbread crust & pour cream cheese mixture over top and smooth out evenly. If desired, add a little extra preserves or curd or fruit and swirl a pretty pattern on top.

Return to 350 F oven and bake 30 minutes or until topping is slightly puffed and golden brown around edges. Makes a large amount (more than a dozen bars, that’s for sure, you don’t want to cut these puppies too big, ’cause they’re so sweet), so have plenty of people around to eat them, or be prepared to gain a couple of pounds.

So yeah, that’s pretty much it. Like I said, it was a good way to use up some lemon curd and cherries and the flavors were lovely together, the crust is just not my favorite. Not bad, but I would have preferred a real shortbread crust, that is, one that was much less sweet, or a more pastry-like crust. But I guess the graham thing is traditional with cheesecake. Whatever… : D

On another note, I have acquired a 10″ springform pan, and loaf pan, and an offset metal spatula. Yes, I spent monies on more baking supplies. Am I becoming addicted or what?

Now I have to figure out something to make with buttermilk, since I bought some the other day. According to Joy the Baker, it lasts for weeks beyond the sell-by date, but still. Keep in mind that I have no layer cake pans. Or muffin tins. But I’ve got pretty much everything else.

There was a recipe in a “new” cookbook I picked up antiquing for “Iowa Buttermilk Ice Cream” that sounded interesting, and on the other day I found a technique for making ice cream without an ice cream maker! Just a few ziploc bags, some ice, and salt!

This afternoon (hopefully) the boy and I are headed upstate for a four day weekend! I say “hopefully” because he might have to work tomorrow and tomorrow night, which would mean we couldn’t leave for upstate until very late on Saturday night, which would suck. If he doesn’t, which there’s a good chance of, given the weather, he’ll be headed home early (2 pm!) so we can get on the road. If all goes as planned, tomorrow morning we will be getting up early to make breakfast for his parents, then going garage sale-ing with them. Sunday is canoeing and a picnic lunch with a friend of his. Monday I hopefully hear from the law office job (the interview went really well! The employer and I had an hour long conversation, instead of a “real” interview. *grin*) an the boy has promised to teach me how to drive manual/standard transmission vehicles, a useful skill, since his Jeep Wrangler is standard and it would be a good idea if we both knew how to drive both vehicles, just in case.

I’m also discovering just how much I like to be outside. We’ve been going for evening walks (we only did 2 or so miles last night, but the night before was 5!) and we’ve discovered the Rail Trail from Walden to Wallkill. It’s a nice, smooth, straight asphalt trail (over an old railroad bed, I presume) and surrounded by trees and wildflowers and chock full of song birds and baby bunnies munching on the mown grass shoulders. There are always lots and lots of people out and about; walkers, runners, cyclists, and lots and lots of families out. There are also tons of wildflowers in along the path that I have fun attempting to identify. I did buy a little laminated foldy-thing that identifies Wildflowers of New York, but not a whole lot else. It’s nice to know the names, but I want to know if they’re native or introduced, what uses they have, if they’re edible, etc.

The boy has told me about a Colonial New York naturalist named Jane Colden. She was apparently the first female botanist in the colonies, used Linnaeus’s new style of cataloging while he was still alive, and cataloged the plants of New York. I want her book very badly, but apparently the last fascimile edition was in 1963 and it’s only available used – and a bit pricey at that (hey! $35 for a book is expensive to me, okay?). I might have to cave and get it anyway, though I think I’ll search the used book stores first. Plus the boy says they might have a copy at work, so I might borrow that first, to make sure I really want it. Or I’m sure the library has one.

I’ve always been interested in wild plants, particularly edible ones, since my mother was always walking about on hikes and camping trips identifying plants and pointing out their various uses and whether or not you could eat them. Apparently the boy’s grandfather was really into survivalist stuff and his parents have a whole bookshelf of his books in the basement. Now, I’m not into the radical-type survivalism (like stocking up on iodine tablets, non-perishables, and semi-automatics to prepare for global apocalypse), but I’ve always been of the school of thought of “just in case.” Or, as my mother puts it, “prepare for the worst, hope for the best.” There’s just something very satisfying about being able to be completely self-sufficient, should the need arise.

Now, this doesn’t meant I want to go learn how to hunt, though I would not be completely adverse to learning how to kill and dress a chicken. It’s not something I would necessarily look forward to, but I feel that if I’m going to eat meat, I can’t shy away from the possibility of having to kill it myself. Not that I’ll have the nerve to do that anytime soon, but you know.

I’m also getting on a canning kick again. I discovered the other day that people sell food on Etsy. Yep, food. Which begs the question: What are the health code laws here, and how do people get around/work in the home with them? Back in North Dakota, the health safety laws are very stringent and selling processed food out of your home (aka bread, cakes, jams, etc.) is very difficult, unless you happen to have an inspected commercial kitchen in your house. Which I think is kind of nice, but also a little silly.

But I digress. Seeing all the lovely jams and jellies and caramels on Etsy was nice, but there wasn’t a single curd! Which got me to thinking, maybe I could…

But then I shook my head, kicked myself, and told myself that I did not want to get into that kind of large-scale home processing. I do kind of want to can jams & curds to give away for Christmas, though. Alas, I’m going to ask for canning supplies for Christmas, which kind of  puts a damper on canning stuff for Christmas presents. Lol…

Anywho, this was, once again, a long and rambling post. But, look on the bright side: perhaps by the next time I post, I’ll have a job! Fingers crossed, people. Fingers crossed.

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