Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Lighter Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars


Whoa, did this blog really go through the whole month of June without a dessert post? Unprecedented! Let's remedy that immediately! With the Fourth of July just a few days away, you may be giving some thought to what to take to whatever gathering you might be attending. Perhaps you'd like to make something crowd-pleasing that contains something red, white, or blue for that barbecue/pool party/Founding Fathers costume party? Allow me to suggest these lightened-up lemon blueberry cheesecake bars. I should really put the "cheesecake" in quotes, since these bars don't actually contain "cream cheese"....hence the "lighter" part of their name. Or maybe that's... 


Anyway, these bars are a healthier (though I wouldn't go so far as to say necessarily healthy) version of a usually pretty heavy dessert. Their secret? Cottage cheese instead of cream cheese. While you may not be a fan of cottage cheese as a food on its own--visions of '80s diet plates, perhaps?--it's a useful substitute for drastically reducing calorie and fat content in cheesecakey desserts. As a matter of fact, 8 oz. of cottage cheese contains about 220 calories and 10 grams of fat, whereas 8 oz. of cream cheese contains 775 calories and 80 grams of fat. A pretty staggering difference, if you ask me. Almost makes me regret all that real cheesecake I've indulged in.....almost.


Amazingly enough, even without cream cheese, these still actually taste great, and not at all like cottage cheese! (I suppose a generous ration of sugar and butter helps in that department.) Creamy and lemony with that cold cheesy texture that feels so refreshing in your mouth, they could be perfect addition to an Independence Day spread.   


These could also be re-styled with orange zest and juice instead of lemon and raspberries instead of berries. Citrus plus berries pretty much always yields something delicious. 

Lighter Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
(Adapted from a Fry's Foods coupon mailer)

Ingredients:

Crust:
1/3 c. butter, softened
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 c. all-purpose flour

Filling:
1 c. low-fat cottage cheese
2/3 c. white sugar
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. grated lemon rind
3 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 large egg
1 large egg white
3/4 c. fresh blueberries

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. To prepare crust, beat butter, brown sugar, salt, and nutmeg in a medium bowl until smooth. (You can do this by hand or use a mixer on medium speed.) Spoon 1 c. flour into a dry measuring cup, level with a knife, and add to the butter mixture. Beat on low or by hand until well blended. Press into the bottom of a greased 8 x 8 inch baking dish. (I always use a small sheet of wax paper to get all the crumbs pressed down neatly.) Bake 20 minutes.

3. To prepare filling, place cottage cheese in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, 1-2 minutes, scraping sides of the bowl once. Add sugar, flour, lemon rind, lemon juice, egg, and egg white and process until well combined. Pour over the cooled crust and sprinkle blueberries around the top.

4. Bake an additional 25 minutes. Let cool, then refrigerate for at least two hours before slicing. (The longer you refrigerate, the firmer they get.)

Makes one 8 x 8 inch pan.

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