Frozen Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
We love what a little time in the freezer does for cream cheese. Its texture is transformed into something splendid: denser than ice cream and ever-so-slightly crystallized. For these bars, we’ve beaten lemon paste and sour cream into the cream cheese and then swirled a sweet, rather plump blueberry sauce over it. It’s rich and lemony sweet — and perfect with the spicy gingersnap crust.
With their marbled blueberry tops, these bars are a showpiece. You could bring it out with Grandma’s silver coffee service at the end of a swanky meal, and your family would clap. But it’s also the sort of easy, no-bake treat you can roll out for any warm evening on the patio or a hot summer barbecue. (We like to keep a batch in the freezer for late-night, show-bingeing dessert emergencies.)
Our tip: The genius of this recipe is its flexibility. You could sub in any summer berry for the filling and any crisp cookie for the crust. Raspberries and shortbread don’t sound half bad!
For the blueberry sauce:
1 ¾ cup fresh blueberries
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
½ Tbsp water
1 tsp Nielsen-Massey lemon paste
For the gingersnap crust:
2 cups ground gingersnaps
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract
For the lemon cheesecake crust:
16 oz cream cheese, room temperature
¼ cup sour cream
⅔ cup powdered sugar
⅓ cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp Nielsen-Massey lemon paste
For the blueberry sauce: In a heavy-bottomed pot, combine the blueberries, sugar, and water, and bring them to a simmer, cooking for 5 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and half of the blueberries have burst. Stir often to ensure mixture does not burn along the sides of the pot.
Remove the berries from the heat, let them cool, and then transfer them to a container, and put them in the fridge to chill. Once the mixture is cold, stir in lemon paste.
For the gingersnap crust: Line the bottom of an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving a little extra hanging over the sides. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the ground gingersnaps, melted butter, and vanilla until the mixture is well moistened.
Transfer the gingersnap mixture to the pan, and use a spoon to press it into the bottom of the pan. Allow it to cool completely, so that the crust sets — this will make it easier to add the filling later.
For the lemon cheesecake filling: Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. In the bowl, beat the cream cheese until it’s smooth. Scrape down the bowl as needed to ensure thorough mixing.
Add sour cream, powdered sugar, cream, and lemon paste to the cream cheese. Mix on low speed until mixture is thick and smooth.
Transfer about ½ of the filling to the prepared crust. Spread it into an even layer. Dollop chilled blueberry sauce on top. Swirl sauce as desired. Repeat, using the remaining cheesecake filling and blueberry sauce. Spread mixture into an even layer.
Cover with plastic wrap or foil, and allow to freeze for at least 4 hours, overnight is best.
Use the parchment paper overhang to help unmold the frozen cheesecake. Use a sharp knife to slice the cheesecake into 2-inch square bars. Keep frozen until ready to serve.
Recipe source: Nielsen Massey