Things I wish I had less of in my life:
– bad hair days.
– automatic flush toilets.
– commercials on Pandora for engagement rings.
Things I wish I had more of:
– double-down snow days.
– episodes of Smash
– reasons to make cheesecake.
I mean, can you really ever have too many reasons for cheesecake?
New jobs, baby showers, first dates, bad hair days. All good reasons for cheesecake. Being stuck in the house for 2 days because of a “polar vortex.” Also a good reason for cheesecake.
Yesterday I decided to have a serious “screw winter weather” moment and made a pan of blueberry cheesecake bars with the blueberries we picked and froze last July at The Berry Patch in Forest Lake. My summer self knew that in January my winter self would need these. When it’s -20°F there’s something incredibly therapeutic about cooking with local fruit, even if it too is frozen. If we can hold out just a little longer there will be summer again.
Then I called a friend and had happy hour at noon. Also therapeutic…
I wasn’t so sure about the recipe, a new one from a cookbook I got under the Christmas tree this year. There’s more sugar than I typically look for in a dessert and the crust seemed way to crumbly and dry. But when I came home from happy hour and it came out of the refrigerator, something happened. I cut a little square and popped the whole thing in my mouth. Just a taste before I pulled out the camera to plate ’em up and shoot the blog photos.
Took a few photos, then cut another piece. And then cut another piece. Checked a few emails, then cut another piece. Looked at the wind chill…said “$*#@!!! Why is it still so cold!?!?!!” and then ate some more cheesecake.
Blueberry cheesecake bars became blueberry cheesecake “bites” because by the end of the day I’d eaten the whole pan that way. Like I said, there are never enough reasons to eat cheesecake.
Blueberry Cheesecake Bites with Frozen Blueberries
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Very Merry Cookies
For the crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup chilled butter, cut up in tablespoon-sized chunks
For the fruit filling
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
For the cheesecake filling
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
Extra whole frozen blueberries for topping
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9 x 13″ glass baking dish by layering aluminum foil in the pan leaving 1-2″ above the edge of the pan on each side. This will help the cheesecake bites easily “pop” out of the pan after chilled.
2. Combine 2 cups of flour and powdered sugar for the crust in a large bowl. Cut in the cold butter pieces until pea-sized. The mixture will be crumbly and dry, but will hold together when pinched between two fingers. Pour into an even layer in the baking dish. Press firmly down with two hands until it forms a tightly packed crust. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
3. While the crust is baking, combine ingredients for the fruit filling in a small sauce pot. Cook blueberries over medium heat while stirring constantly to avoid scorching. When filling just begins to boil and get thick, remove from heat and set aside.
4. Remove crust from oven and allow to cool on a wire baking rack. While cooling, beat cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add in flour, eggs, and vanilla and continue to beat on medium speed until no lumps remain.
5. To assemble the cheesecake, pour the cream cheese filling over the cooled crust in an even layer. Drop heaping spoonfuls of the blueberry filling in clumps over the cream cheese filling. Using a spatula or a knife, lightly swirl the blueberry filling into the cheesecake filling, being careful not to over-mix.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cheesecake is set. (Grab the pan with two hands and gently shake. If the filling in the middle holds together like jello would jiggle it’s fully cooked.) Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire baking rack for 1 hour. Chill for at least another hour in the refrigerator before cutting into bit sized 1″ squares. Remove from pan and top each square with 2-3 frozen blueberries immediately before serving.