Monday, April 14, 2014

Strawberry Balsamic Cheesecake Bars

While I'm an autumn person through and through, it's hard to deny the beauty and warmth of spring. Flowers are blooming, temperatures are rising, allergies are thriving and my heat bill is going down. Also, berries are in season. Yay spring!

With berries becoming sweeter (and cheaper!) I was inspired to bake these bars. Balsamic vinegar and strawberries might seem strange to some, but it's a flavor combination that I love (example: this sandwich). Cooking fruit with a little sugar and vinegar brings out the sweet and tart flavors all at the same time. Throw in some cream cheese and a buttery crust...yup, it's good.

Really good.

This recipe consists of three components: the crust, the filling, and the balsamic and strawberry sauce. First, make the super simple crust. Then, prepare the sauce by boiling down sliced strawberries, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. This mixture goes inside the bars, and acts as a syrupy topping. These bars are tasty cool or hot.

Strawberry Balsamic Cheesecake Bars16 oz. Cream Cheese
1/3 Cup Sour Cream
1/2 cup Sugar
1 Egg
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 tbs. Lemon Juice

2 cups Flour
1/4 cup Sugar
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 cup Butter (melted)

Strawberry & Balsamic Sauce:2 cups Strawberries, sliced (plus extra for the top)
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Balsamic

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine all ingredients for the crust until well incorporated. Using your hands, spread out the crust mixture into a 9x9 pan until evenly distributed.
2. In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients for the strawberry sauce and turn on medium high heat. Stir to combine, and let mixture come to a slow boil. Let cook for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strawberries should be very soft, and the mixture should have thickened.
3. In a stand mixer, combine cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Add sugar and blend. Add egg, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Blend until fully combined, scraping the side of the bowl when necessary.
4. Add 3/4 of the strawberry and balsamic mixture to the cream cheese mixture. The remaining balsamic sauce will be used as a topping.
5. Pour cream cheese mixture onto the crust and top with strawberries (optional). Let cook for 45 minutes, or until the center of the bars no longer wiggles when the bars are shaken. Let cool for about 20 minutes. Top with the remaining balsamic sauce and enjoy!

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