18 July 2011

Secret Recipe Club July 2011: Cheesecake Bars

Fresh blueberries and cheesecake? Patriotic yumminess!

One of the blogs I lurk on recently introduced me to the Secret Recipe Club. This club is composed of food bloggers who are interested in increasing exposure to their blogs and the blogs of others. I immediately signed up. Unlike the Daring Cooks challenges, everyone makes something different. Each month I will receive the name of a blog and will be required to make one recipe from that blog. But here’s the reason I joined so quickly: I can pick any recipe from their blog that I want to make. I normally hesitate about such things because Bender is a pretty picky eater. But if I can pick the recipe, I’m pretty certain I can find something that even he would like. Are you interested in joining our little club? If so, click here to fill out the form!

My assigned blog this month, Meet the Swans, authored by Krista, made finding something suitable for Bender’s tastes very easy. I had never stumbled on Krista’s blog before and was excited to find something with mostly sweets. I don’t make many sweets and have the tendency to stick to cookies: either chocolate chip or chocolate peanut butter chip. Occasionally I’ll throw in some Guinness cake, but I’m a cookie girl through and through. And Krista had several different cookie recipes to choose from. But something else caught my eye.

Three very simple ingredients for the crust.
Red Velvet Cheesecake Stars, Topped with Blueberries.

Doesn’t that sound divine? I was already planning on hosting a July 4th party (on July 2nd), and I knew this treat would go over beautifully. All of our American friends have moved back to the US, so all of our guests were German. I had to serve something Americana! And what’s more Americana than a red, white, and blue dessert?

Please forgive me, but I ended up making these little treats into bars instead of stars and pink instead of red. I’m moving in just under a month, so it didn’t exactly seem reasonable to go out and purchase star cookie cutters and red food dye. So I opted for the stylings of my knife and sour cherry juice. Also, I couldn’t find chocolate wafer cookies that didn’t have a creamy filling, so I opted for “Leibniz-Keks,” a delicious German snack cookie. I was trying to figure out what American sweet they reminded me and ended up closing my eyes and taking a deep breath. That did it! Animal crackers!

Cooling the crust and cherry reduction does take patience.

Red and White Cheesecake Bars with Blueberries
adapted from Krista of Meet the Swans, originally from McCormick

I was worried about adding the white over the pink
without mixing, so I dropped in blobs...
and smoothed from there. Worked like a charm!
2 ½ cups wafer cookie crumbs, chocolate or vanilla
¼ cup sugar
½ cup salted butter, melted

3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
¾ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 large eggs

½ cup sour cherry juice, reduced by boiling (~5-8 minutes) to 3 tablespoons and cooled

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Stir together cookie crumbs and sugar, then add melted butter. Press mixture into bottom of a 9×13″ pan. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Allow crust to cool on wire rack 30 minutes before proceeding, but make sure to leave the oven on.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time. Beat on low speed until just blended. Set aside 2 cups batter. Gently stir in reduced sour cherry juice. Pour into crust. Top with remaining (plain) cheesecake batter.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes. Cool completely before covering. Refrigerate for a few hours, up to 24 hours. Top with fresh blueberries just before serving to complete the “red, white, and blue” theme!

I’ve been an expat for almost two years now. During that time I’ve come to love certain aspects of Germany (healthcare, anyone?), but my appreciation for US food availability, taste, and diversity has grown. When people ask me if we have food A or B in the US, the answer is, “Of course, we have everything.” As a country of immigrants, so many cultures have brought their best dishes to the US and adapted them with easily found ingredients. A new food culture is born out of old, as some things melt into the new and others retain their basic structure.

I’m fairly certain that the US version of cheesecake actually originated from the German “k√§sekuchen.” While the original is good, US cheesecake is a bit moister and doesn’t leave you wanting a beverage nearly as much (thanks to the high fat content of cream cheese when the original uses a low fat buttermilk cheese). And you better believe all my guests asked me for the recipe!

You can see the "red" peaking through!

May-I-have-the-recipe-please: 4 votes!
My-waistline-is-grateful-you-don’t-make-cheesecake-very-often: 1 vote!
I-can’t-wait-to-get-my-next-secret-blog-because-this-is-fun: 1 vote!

The six of us devoured the entire dish. Yum!

Be sure to check out Krista's original red and white star creations, and find out what other members of the Secret Recipe club created by clicking on the link below!


  1. This looks so so so good! I would love a slice!

  2. Thanks for the nice things you said! It was fun to see how you adapted the recipe to your preferences... and what was available in the area. Actually, I almost always use cream filled cookies in my crusts, I like the sweetness it adds and it means you can cut back on butter because the cream helps hold it together. In fact, I frequently use cream filled cookies and no butter.

  3. These cheesecake bars look delightful!
    So fun to be in the Secret Recipe Club with you. This looks amazing :)

  4. I think you did a great job!

  5. These look tasty! SRC is so much fun. I enjoy participating with you.

  6. Love the layers, looks delish.

    If you haven't already, I'd love for you to check out my SRC recipe this month: Holy Guacamole.

    Cook Lisa Cook

  7. Looks tasty! I made something similar for my family on the 4th. I now love cheesecake bars more than cheesecake!

  8. You just made cheesecake portable. That's a game changer.

  9. Yumminess for sure!! Blueberries are always a hit in my household... add some cheesecake to go with them and we definitely have a winner! Yes please!!

  10. All ex-pats have their "where do I find X?" and "what can I find as a substitute for X?" travails but those questions and tests make us better cooks.

  11. "Patriotic yumminess" - that caption cracked me up! You're right, we are lucky to have access to so many wonderful dishes and ingredients in the US - but way to go, you, for making it work! :)

  12. I was an expat in Russia for a while, and I can totally relate to your substitutions and deviations from the recipe! You did a fabulous job creating the dish using what you had available. It looks so yummy!

  13. I love cheesecake. These look so yummy!

    Glad to be part of SRC with you!

    Amy @ A Little Nosh


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