Perfectly lemony cheesecake bars to brighten up your gloomy winter doldrums!
With winter upon us here in the North-woods of Wisconsin, we sometimes need some cheering up and a boost of Vitamin C! What better way than to combine the answer to both needs in a deliciously lemony cheesecake bar!?
One day I had a TON of egg yolks I needed to use PRONTO, so I made lemon curd, which I then stuck in the freezer until I could think of ways to use it besides Lemon Meringue Pie.
Enter these bars…years ago at the bakery where I work we had a cheesecake crumb bar. It wasn’t extremely popular so it was discontinued. I’d completely forgotten about those bars until I was discussing with a coworker about items that we had made in the past and this memory floating to the front of my mind.
As soon as possible I got into my kitchen and made these. It’s one of the few recipes I’ve created that was perfect from the first shot….now if only I could get that to happen more often! 🙂
For zesting lemons, I highly recommend this zester. I use it pretty much on a daily basis between work and home. In fact, I own 2 or 3 of them myself! You need to garnish your pie, whipped cream topped hot cocoa, with beautiful chocolate shavings, etc? You need to pile the Parmesan cheese on your pizza? Your rice pudding needs a bit of fresh nutmeg? You need fresh lemon zest for this recipe? Then this is the right tool for you!! 🙂
1 cupTHM Gentle Sweet or desired alternative sweetener of your choice
1 freshlemon, zested
1 –8 oz.package Neufchâtel cheese,softened
2 cupslemon curd(I recommend this one from Joy & Simplicity.)
½cupsour cream or nonfat greek yogurt
1 cupSwerve Confectioners Style sweetener, or other powdered sweetener of your choice
Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 13×9 pan and line with parchment paper and then lightly grease parchment paper.
Whisk all crust ingredients in a medium bowl except for melted butter.
Add melted butter and mix using a hand mixer on low or a wooden spoon until butter is completely mixed in with no dry spots remaining.
Place ½ of crumb mixture in prepared pan and press down firmly. ( I like to use a measuring cup or a tamper to get it pressed down evenly.) Set remaining ½ of crumbs aside
Place in oven and bake for 8 minutes.
Whisk Neufchâtel cheese until smooth.
Add lemon curd and sour cream and whisk until smooth and evenly mixed, scraping down bowl as needed.
Whisk in egg until smooth.
Spread Neufchâtel cheese mixture evenly over baked crust. (There’s no need to let the crust cool completely.)
Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture evenly over top of cheesecake batter and LIGHTLY pat down.
Place in oven and turn oven temperature down to 325°. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until lightly browned and instant read thermometer inserted in center of bars reads 160°.
Set aside to cool.
Glaze & finishing:
Whisk together glaze ingredients until smooth.
Once bars are cooled, drizzle glaze over top of bars.
Place in refrigerator until chilled.
You may cut and serve in pan as-is, or using excess parchment paper as handles, remove chilled bars from pan to cutting board and cut into desired size.
Store covered in refrigerator.
After zesting lemon, juice lemon and set the juice aside to use in the glaze.If you don’t have parchment paper you can make these without it, it just greatly aids in removal of the bars without sticking and makes the pan MUCH easier to clean.If you don’t have a fresh lemon available: omit zest from crust. Use 3-4 Tablespoons bottled lemon juice in the glaze.
I’ve been half hearted in my attempts over the last 1 1/2 years to get this blog going, but a few weeks ago, I shared a photo on the 2 main THM Facebook groups of a cake with this frosting and got myself inundated with recipe requests…and so that was the final push to get this blog going.
SO, this recipe came about when my over-the-top-food-fanatic boss was telling me about something he’d read from a classic/well known person in the food world. (Don’t ask me who…I can’t remember!) This person would make a classic buttercream by whipping butter into Creme Anglaise sauce. The idea never left my head and stayed there until I had time to play with it.
I ended up having to omit the salt & increase the sweetener in my Creme Anglaise recipe to get it to taste right. I ended up with a frosting that is extremely similar to a true buttercream…perfectly rich, buttery, & creamy frosting that’s a dream to work with and holds up to piping VERY well.
I decided to use it to decorate a cake for my older sister, Nikki’s birthday. I used the chocolate cake recipe from the Peppermint Trimtastic cake recipe in Trim Healthy Table cookbook, page 390. I baked it on a half sheet pan & and cut 4 small squares out of it for this cake.
She loves mint, so I added several drops of peppermint essential oil to taste. (It was about 5 drops total.) If you want to experiment with flavors, feel free to do so. I’d leave the vanilla in and just add other flavors, tasting as you go.
Whisk egg yolks and gentle sweet together in small saucepan until thoroughly combined & lightened in color, about 2 minutes.
Add cashew milk and whisk well again.
Cook over low/medium heat stirring with wooden spoon constantly until mixture reaches temperature of 170°, about 5 minutes. It will coat back of spoon and it may appear to be curdled, but don’t worry..it’ll smooth out in the next step.
Remove from heat and place in blender.
Add vanilla, glucomannan, cream of tartar, & molasses. Blend on low for 1 minute, venting blender as needed.
Scrape into mixing bowl (or back into pan if using a hand mixer).
Let cool until mixture reaches about 100°. You may place in a sink of cold water to cool faster, if desired.
Add butter 1 piece at time, waiting until each piece of butter is COMPLETELY mixed in before adding another. Mix on high speed using whisk attachment until smooth. This may take several minutes. If mixture won’t come together or appears curdled after mixing for several minutes, it probable means your mixture and/or your butter was too cold. If this happens, warm mixture very gently over low heat or microwave for several seconds and whip for a few more minutes.
Any type of milk may be used, including 1/2 & 1/2. THM offers food freedom and no calorie counting, but also we need to be wise…..so I tried all variations and straight up cashew milk works just as well as 1/2 & 1/2, so I went with the lighter option.6 doonks of gluccomannan is equivalent to 3/16 tsp.
Disclaimer: I’ve done my research and am ok with use of essential oils for flavoring. If you are not okay with it, please use the flavoring or extracts of your choice to substitute, starting with 1/4 teaspoon and tasting as you go to get the flavor desired.