Summer in Washington D.C. is definitely not my favorite season, but I’m in love with the fresh produce (and beach vacations) it yields. With Memorial Day coming up, summer is right around the corner, so let’s kick it off with a fresh dessert – raspberry lemon cheesecake!
The bars have a sweet Oreo cookie crumb crust and a lemony cheesecake layer infused with homemade raspberry sauce–just one will not be enough. And they’re definitely easier and faster to make than a whole cheesecake.
To start making the crust, remove the cream filling from the Oreos and crush the cookies thoroughly so that there are no big chunks. I have to confess, I may have consumed one or two (or maybe five) cookies during this step. No regrets there. Anyway, I found the best way to crush the cookies was to put them inside two or three plastic bags and then hit them with a meat tenderizer. If you have kids or a spouse, they’ll be happy to help with this part. Just make sure to squeeze all the air out of the bag first or you’ll pop it and spray cookie crumbs everywhere. Then, mix the crumbs with some melted butter and sugar and then pop it in the oven for a quick 5-7 minutes, so the crust comes together. If calories are a concern of yours, you can also try making this with a thinner crust by only using three-quarters of the ingredients, or substituting it with a thin graham cracker crust, or even using no crust at all.
To make the raspberry sauce, cook the raspberries, raspberry preserve, and cornstarch over medium-low heat, mashing the raspberries into a thick sauce. Strain and then let the mixture cool.
While the sauce cools, you can make the filling. I use plain yogurt and light (brick style) cream cheese to lighten this up a bit. Beat the cream cheese first and then mix in the rest of the ingredients. Spoon the filling into the pan with the crust and drop spoonfuls of the cooled raspberry sauce over the top. Make swirls with a knife and then bake for 35-40 minutes or until the center has set. You’ll want to start checking at the 30 minute mark. I usually just jiggle the pan to see if it’s no longer runny.
And this is where you have to be super patient, because right out of the oven, you’ll need to let the bars cool for 30 minutes and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours or more. This helps it set properly. Once chilled, cut up into even pieces and scarf it down as fast as you can. Then hit the gym.
Raspberry Lemon Cheesecake Squares
- 1 3/4 cups Oreo cookie crumbs (filling removed)
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp raspberry preserves
- 3/4 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups raspberries
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 8 oz light (brick-style) cream cheese
- 1 cup plain non fat greek yogurt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/3 cup sugar
- zest from 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
Make the Crust
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8-in square pan with foil. In a small bowl, mix the cookie crumbs with the melted butter and 1 T. sugar. Pour the crust mixture into the pan and bake for 5-7 minutes until set.
Make the Raspberry Sauce
Add the raspberry preserves, cornstarch, sugar and raspberries into a small saucepan. Cook until thickened. You may need to mash the raspberries with a spoon to get a nice even mixture. Strain and set aside to cool.
Make the Filling
Beat the cream cheese on high for 1 minute until it’s smooth and creamy. Mix in the yogurt, eggs and egg yolk, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated.
Pour the filling batter into the pan with the crust. Drop spoonfuls of the raspberry mixture and swirl it around using a knife. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the center has set. Cool for 30 minutes and then place in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.