Most people who muck about in a kitchen on a semi-regular basis have a “thing” that they’re good at making – that one item that everyone associates with them.
I have two: lasagna and… raspberry coconut cheesecake bars. I have friends whose husbands ask them every Christmas if I’m bringing these bars over any time soon.
For some reason, I only make them at Christmas although they are a perfectly acceptable treat to serve any time of year – especially during the summer when it’s raspberry season! And here’s a tip… freeze them. And then about 5 minutes before serving them, take them out of the freezer and plate them. The raspberries will pop in your mouth with a burst of flavour as they melt that is sooooooo yummy against the creamy cheesecake filling.
The thing is, these are so easy to make they can easily become your “thing” as well. A couple of tips:
- homemade raspberry jam will make them taste just that much better
- put the cream cheese out to soften before mixing
One more thing, I’ve decided to start putting a blurb about the photos at the end of each post telling the settings I used and any challenges or tips on the shot – maybe some of you can use the info in your photography!
Anyway, the recipe: I’ve had this recipe for years and I got it out of a 1995 specialty Better Homes and Gardens issue on Christmas Cookies. I still have the magazine and it’s worn out but man… it had some great stuff in it. It’s almost worth laminating the whole issue so I have it forever! haha
Raspberry Cheesecake Bars
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped, sliced almonds
1/2 cup butter-flavoured shortening or plain shortening
2 8oz packages of cream cheese
2/3 cup of sugar
3/4 tsp almond extract
1 cup of raspberry jam (you could always substitute another kind of jam if you prefer)
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Combine flour, brown sugar and the 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds in a large mixing bowl.
Cut in the shortening till mixture resembles fine crumbs and then set aside 1/2 cup of the crumb mixture for the topping.
Press the remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of a 13x9x2 inch baking pan (I did a quick spray of Pam on the pan before this but the recipe didn’t call for it). Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes or until the edges are golden
While the crust is baking, beat cream cheese, sugar, eggs and almond extract in another mixing bowl until smooth (soft cream cheese is the key – otherwise it’s very hard to get it lump free).
Spread cream cheese mixture over the hot crust and return to the oven and bake 15 minutes.
While the second step is baking, stir the jam until it’s smooth. In a separate bowl, combine reserved crumb mixture, coconut, almonds and sliced almonds.
When the cream cheese layer is done cooking spread the raspberry jam over it immediately and then sprinkle crumb-coconut mixture over the top.
Return to the oven and bake for 15 more minutes or until topping is golden brown. Cool pan on a wire rack. Chill for 3 hours before cutting into bars and store bars in the fridge.
How many bars you get depends on how big you like your squares. The recipe says 32 but I get closer to 24. These freeze up really well and are a prefect make ahead dessert or treat.
Photo 1: Canon Rebel XTi, 50mm, 1/30, f1.8, +2/3EV, 100ISO
Getting the squares cut perfectly was the hardest part of setting up the shot. I am not a good square cutter!
Photo 2: Canon Rebel XTi, 50mm, 1/50, f2.5, +2/3EV 400ISO
I very, very rarely use a flash for food – as you can see in the background, I have great natural light in my kitchen where I usually shoot. I like the backlit look for simple ingredient shots – always makes me feel like it was a farmhouse shoot.