People ask me all the time: do you still cook a lot?
The answer, as I think we all can guess, is no, but that doesn’t mean it never happens.
Every once in awhile the urge to make a big, fantastic mess in my kitchen will strike and I’ll wind up with more leftovers than I can feasibly eat three days later.
Ironically, when I do find myself in need of a hostess gift or with a potluck style party to attend, I also find myself with no time to do anything that takes more effort than running into a store to buy a bottle of wine with a pretty label.
A few weeks ago, a group of my friends were planning to do one of my favorite Chicago summer activities and bring a picnic to a free concert at Millennium Park. I serendipitously had a large bag of cherries and a meeting-free afternoon, so I made fresh cherry cheesecake bars courtesy of Cooking Light.
This is an absolutely perfect summer recipe. Though it requires use of an oven, which can be off-putting when the heat index is somewhere between “miserable” and “seventh circle of hell” you serve the bars chilled, in conveniently single-serving squares.
- 4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
- 3½ teaspoons ice water
- 1¼ cups chopped pitted fresh cherries
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon cornstarch
- ¾ cup (6 ounces) ⅓-less-fat cream cheese
- ⅓ cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish with parchment paper. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Place flour, powdered sugar, and salt in a food processor; pulse 2 times to combine. Add chilled butter, and drizzle with ice water. Pulse 10 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. Pour the mixture into prepared baking dish (mixture will be crumbly).
- Press mixture into bottom of dish. Bake at 350° for 23 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 325°.
- Place cherries, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and 1 tablespoon water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until cherries are tender. Combine lemon juice and cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Stir cornstarch mixture into cherry mixture; cook for 1 minute or until thickened. Cool mixture slightly. Spoon the cherry mixture into food processor, and process until smooth. Spoon pureed mixture into a bowl, and set aside.
- Wipe food processor clean. Place cream cheese and remaining ingredients in food processor; process until smooth. Spoon cream cheese mixture over cooled crust; spread evenly. Dollop cherry mixture over cream cheese mixture, and swirl together with a knife.
- Bake at 325° for 36 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack. Cover and chill at least 3 hours.