Cherry Cheesecake Bars

servings of Cherry Cheesecake Bars on a marble platter

My first cheesecake experiences happened in my childhood and were all thanks to that no-bake mix topped off with a can of cherry pie filling. And I have to tell you that I felt quite strongly that it couldn’t get any better than those cheesecakes. Now, of course, I’ve seen the cheesecake light with the sheer joy (and surprising low effort!) of homemade versions.

Recently, I got my first bunch of cherries of the summer. My usual fresh fruit habit is to grab up whatever is in season without really knowing what I’ll do with it. But as soon as I saw those cherries, I knew I wanted to try a bit of a twist on a cherry-topped cheesecake.

I opted for bars instead of a traditional round cheesecake. Baking cheesecake in bar form allows you to cut way back on oven time. That’s a plus on a hot day or even when you just want to speed up the baking process.

Rich cheesecake gets swirled with sweet cherries in these Cherry Cheesecake Bars from Bake or Break. A delightful way to enjoy a classic flavor combination! - Bake or Break

I also decided to skip the traditional cherry topping that’s usually spread on top of cheesecake in favor of a swirl of cherry flavor. Instead of having a clear division of cheesecake and topping, that beautiful swirl gives you little bites of cherry all throughout the cheesecake.

I did stay true to tradition by starting with a graham cracker crust. If you prefer, another type of cookie crust would work as well. Try lemon, almond, or vanilla cookies for a little variety.

I really like the subtle bite of lemon in these bars, but cherries and vanilla are great friends, too. If you like, substitute 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract in the filling, and 1/2 teaspoon in the cherry swirl.

Now that I’ve made this homemade version of a childhood favorite, I can tell you without reservation that these Cherry Cheesecake Bars are far better than those cheesecakes I used to adore. Sure, there’s a bit more effort than you’d need with a mix and a can, but you’ll know that it was absolutely worth it when you take that first bite!

Visit the Recipe Index for more cheesecake recipes.

Cherry Cheesecake Bars

Yield: 24 2-inch bars

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Rich cheesecake gets swirled with sweet cherries in these delightful Cherry Cheesecake Bars!!

Ingredients:

For the cherry swirl:

  • 2 cups cherries, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • juice of 1/2 medium lemon

For the crust:

  • 10.5 ounces graham cracker crumbs
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons firmly packed light or dark brown sugar

For the filling:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • juice of 1/2 medium lemon

Directions:

To make the cherry swirl:

  1. Combine the cherries and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Then decrease heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch and lemon juice. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, or until thickened.
  2. Set aside to cool.

To make the crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350Β°F. Grease a 9″x 13″x 2″ baking pan.
  2. Combine the cookie crumbs, butter, and brown sugar until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  3. Bake 10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

To make the filling:

  1. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and lemon juice until thoroughly combined and smooth. Pour onto the partially baked crust, and spread evenly.
  2. Transfer the cooled cherry mixture to a blender or food processor. Process until there are no large pieces of cherries remaining. The mixture should be pourable.
  3. Spoon the cherry mixture over the top of the filling. You’ll want to cover it well with small spoonfuls of the mixture.
  4. Use a thin knife to swirl the cherry mixture into the filling.
  5. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until the bars are set and a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool to room temperature. Then cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours before serving.