Despite the fact that I enjoy making desserts, I am really not a big dessert eater. I do enjoy cookies – classic cookies – but nothing fancy. I can pass on cake, pastries, and pies. But there is one dessert item that renders me completely helpless: cheesecake bars. It’s kind of ironic because one of my least favorite desserts is cheesecake. Go figure!
I am not alone in my love for these little treats. Every single time I make a batch, they are devoured. Once the bars have cooled, I like to trim the edges from the squares. You want to talk about a flock of vultures hoovering overhead? That’s my family waiting to snag some of the edge parts.
These cheesecake bars have even replaced the traditional birthday cake for some of us. My brother’s birthday was this week, and I decided to whip up a batch of his favorite dessert: these lemon cheesecake crumb bars. He does not even follow a gluten free diet and loves them.
Cheesecake bars are quite simple to make. There are also a whole host of variations that you can try. Aside from this lemon variety, I’ve made chocolate, rocky road, white chocolate, dark chocolate, raspberry, cranberry orange, and pumpkin varieties. All begin with a basic recipe and with the smallest tweaks, become a brand new, unique creation.
So, I hope that you will give these a try. What’s your favorite dessert?
Gluten Free Lemon Cheesecake Crumb Bars
2 cups gluten free flour blend with xanthan gum (I used Bob’s 1 to 1)
1 & 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) cold, salted butter, cubed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest (from roughly 2-3 lemons)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened at room temperature
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Using an 8″ x 10″ baking dish, add in all of the ingredients for the crust.
Using your hands or a pastry blender, work all of the ingredients together until large crumbs form. This will take a few minutes. The resulting mixture should look something like this:
Reserve 2 cups of the mixture. Press the remaining crumbs into the bottom of the baking dish. Press the crumbs down firmly. You may use the bottom of a glass or measuring cup to help. Pierce several times with a fork.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Place the lemon juice into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Continue to reduce until the mixture reduces to 1 tablespoon. Be sure to stir frequently and adjust the temperature to prevent burning. The juice will begin to get a bit syrupy as it reduces. Be watchful. Allow to cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream the cream cheese until smooth. Add in the sweetened condensed milk and egg; mix until smooth. Be sure to scrape down the sides as needed. Add in the reduced lemon juice and mix until smooth.
Spread the mixture over the crust.
Top with the reserved crumb mixture.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Allow to cool for at least 1 hour before serving. I think that these bars are best chilled in the refrigerator completely, then served from there.
You may top with a bit of whipped cream if desired.
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