Apricot Lemon Cheesecake Bars

By JeanMarie Brownson | April 13th, 2022

Perfect for Passover ... or any other time of year ... and easier to make than cheesecake


These cheesecake bars are easier to make than cheesecake. Made with matzo meal crumbs, Apricot Lemon Cheesecake Bars make a great Passover treat, too. You can use other preserves to change it up. Image

“Round out your perfect Passover spread with this sweet treat,” says James Beard Award-winning author JeanMarie Brownson. The recipe is for Apricot Lemon Cheesecake Bars made with apricot preserves, but Brownson says you can use any preserves you’d like.


Treating friends and family with a homemade dessert symbolizes love in our family. Therefore, I’m always on the lookout for easy desserts that transport well and make a bunch of servings. Bar cookies and small cakes to the rescue.

These cheesecake bars, destined for our friend’s Passover gathering, prove easier to make than cheesecake. A crisp crust, made from matzo meal crumbs, gets pressed into a 9-inch baking pan. The cream cheese layer, flavored with lemon rind and ground ginger, has a bright flavor and light texture. A topping of apricot preserves gives the bars a beautiful appearance with minimal fuss. Use any preserves you’d like, such as strawberry, sour cherry, or seedless raspberry.

Transport the bars in their pan in a cooler with an ice pack. Then, let them stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.

Apricot Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Tip: You can use an 8 by 8-inch baking pan here, too, but the baking time in Step 4 will be a little longer due to the deeper filling.

Ingredients:

Nonstick spray for the pan

Crust:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup matzo meal crumbs
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling:

  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Finely grated rind (yellow part only) of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • A generous 1/2 cup apricot preserves

Optional for serving:

  • Mascarpone cheese, softened, or softly whipped cream
  • Fresh raspberries, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-by-9-inch or an 11-by-7-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. Line the pan with parchment paper leaving some overhang on the long sides. Spray the paper inside the pan with nonstick spray.
  2. For the crust, put the butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover bowl loosely to prevent splatters. Microwave on high (100% power) until melted, about 1 minute. Stir in crumbs, brown sugar, ginger and salt until crumbs are moistened. Press into an even layer over the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until set, about 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
  3. For the filling, beat cream cheese in large bowl with electric mixer until light. Beat in granulated sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Beat in lemon rind, ginger, almond extract and salt. Scrape the mixture over the baked crust. Gently spread into an even layer.
  4. Bake in the center of the oven until the top feels dry and center is barely wobbly, about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, put the apricot preserves in a bowl and microwave on high to warm them slightly, 30 to 45 seconds. Very gently spread the warmed preserves over the cheese filling. Bake until filling is set but still wiggles a bit in the center, 25 minutes more. Cool completely on wire rack.
  5. Refrigerate until very cold, about 3 hours or overnight. Use the paper to lift the bars from the pan. Cut into squares. Serve topped with softened mascarpone and berries, if desired.

Note: I stock a stash of inexpensive baking pans, such as those sold in the kitchen gadget section of large supermarkets, when baking for friends or potluck dinners. Sturdier than foil, the pans also can be reused.


JeanMarie Brownson is a James Beard Award-winning author and the recipient of the IACP Cookbook Award for her latest cookbook, “Dinner at Home.” JeanMarie, a chef and authority on home cooking, Mexican cooking and specialty food, is one of the founding partners of Frontera Foods. She co-authored three cookbooks with chef Rick Bayless, including “Mexico: One Plate at a Time.” JeanMarie has enjoyed developing recipes and writing about food, travel, and dining for more than four decades.

© 2022 JeanMarie Brownson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Also from JeanMarie Brownson, this recipe for a satisfying meatless burger. Really!

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