The latest issue of Bon Appetit came in the mail last week. I love this magazine. So far I've made two delicious desserts and I have many more recipes bookmarked.
I loved these little cheesecake bars so much, I have made them twice. I altered the recipe a bit the second time. The first batch, the bars just weren't as thick as I wanted, so the second time, I tripled the recipe, but split it into two pans. (I would have just "one and a halved" the recipe and made one pan worth, but I actually needed a lot and I didn't want to mess with "halving" an egg.)
If you want a thicker bar, experiment with the ratios. I think you could even double it and make it in a nine by nine pan.
Also, you'll notice the graham cracker crust doesn't call for any additional sugar, so it's not especially sweet. That's why I amped up the berries a bit with a shimmery sugar coat. (As Nigel Tufnel would say, "These go to eleven.")
This is the original "singled" recipe..adjust the ratios if you want thicker bars.
9 whole graham crackers
5 tablespoons butter
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel (I was able to get all of the juice and zest for a single recipe from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Fresh berries (the sugared berries* are SO good, but if you don't have the time, any fresh berries will do)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Fold 16-inch-long piece of foil to 8x16-inch strip; place in 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan, leaving overhang on 2 sides. Repeat with another sheet of foil in opposite direction, lining pan completely. Spray foil with cooking spray.
Place graham crackers in heavy-duty plastic bag. Using rolling pin or mallet, crush crackers finely. (I used my food processor). Melt butter in medium skillet over low heat. Remove from heat; add crumbs and toss to coat. Press crumbs evenly onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake crust until deep golden, about 12 minutes. Cool crust while preparing filling.
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until smooth. Beat in egg and sour cream, then lemon juice, lemon peel, and vanilla. Spread batter over crust.
Bake cheesecake until slightly puffed and set in center, about 30 minutes; cool completely in pan on rack. (For the one and a half recipe, I started checking them every five minutes after 3o minutes. I just jiggled the pan until the middle was set. It took about 45-50 minutes total.) Chill cheesecake until cold, at least 2 hours.
Using foil overhang as aid, lift cheesecake from pan. Cut into 16 squares; arrange on platter. Top each square with berries. Chill until ready to serve, up to 3 hours. Serve chilled.
Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; keep chilled.
*You must try these berries. They are simple to make, they look beautiful, and the crisp sugar crust makes them even juicier. They really burst in your mouth. I sugared strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. The raspberries didn't work as well as the others. Make sure you keep the berries whole, don't even stem the strawberries, or their juices will dissolve the sugar crust.
Fresh berries, washed and air dried
2 egg whites
1 T water
Whisk together egg whites and water. With a fine basting brush, paint a thin coat of egg white on berry. Sprinkle with sugar. Set on a cooling rack to dry (about 2 hours).
If you are concerned about using raw egg whites, you can buy pasteurized egg whites, or use powdered egg whites or meringue powder.