Cherry Almond Goat Cheese Bars

During quartet camp today, I realized that it was the middle of August, and I can’t figure out how my summer managed to go by so fast. Yesterday, I finished my first week of quartet camp, which was fantastic as always. I study chamber music with the program director during the year, so being able to buckle down and work on 2 full quartets in 2 weeks is very intense, but also really fun. The members of my quartet are some of my best friends, so rehearsing with them is really great.

DSC_0054Cheesecake is such a fun but temperamental thing for me to make. As you can see, the amount of cheesecake recipes here on the blog is rather limited, but that’s partially because I have a limited audience that will actually eat the cheesecake. My family tends to stay on the healthy side (surprising for an avid baker) so super rich and creamy desserts aren’t big sellers in my house. Not to mention, goat cheese is one of the few foods that almost no one in my family really likes, so I don’t think these bars ever got the attention that they truly deserve.

DSC_0077I loved these bars that I found on Sift and Whisk. The crust is not graham cracker based, but rather crushed almonds give it not only a wonderful crunch, but an amazing warm flavor too. The mixture of the goat cheese and the cream cheese ensures that the batter is not too dry, but it has a little bit of a tangy flavor because of the goat cheese, which I just loved. The fresh cherries not only mixed into the batter but sprinkled on top provide a sweet contrast to the sour edge of the cheesecake. All in all, I can’t rave about these bars enough.

Cherry Almond Goat Cheese Bars

Ingredients

For the almond crust:

  • 1 cup (140 grams) raw, whole almonds
  • 1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (55 grams) packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 8 ounces (226 grams) goat cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces (226 grams) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (150 grams) cherries
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Spread almonds on a baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes, until fragrant, stirring occasionally. Let cool slightly, then roughly chop the almonds.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together chopped almonds, flour, brown sugar, salt, and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan. Bake crust for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack while making filling.
  3. Halve cherries and remove pits. In the bowl of a food processor, process goat cheese, cream cheese, eggs, and sugar. (If you do not have a food processor, you can use a hand or stand mixer. Beat the goat cheese and cream cheese together first, until smooth and creamy, then add the eggs and sugar.) Remove the food processor blade, then gently stir in most of the cherry halves by hand, reserving 18 cherry halves for the top. Pour filling onto cooled crust. Arrange remaining 18 cherry halves, cut side up, on top.
  4. Bake at 325°F for 35-40 minutes, until the center just barely jiggles, or a thermometer inserted in the middle of the pan reads 155-160°F. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours. Cut into 16 squares and serve.

Don’t be fooled by the goat cheese- these are some great cheesecake bars.

-Rayna 🙂

 

 

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Mini Twix Cheesecakes

It can be hard to bake things for a..selective little sister. So when I found a recipe that made her eyes light up and her say “Yum, make that!” you know for certain that it was going to be made. Besides, who can resist something that has CANDY inside of it? These lonely mini Twix bars have been in my cabinet, calling for something delicious to be made out of them. Like last week, I had never made cheesecake before, although I’ve bookmarked many recipes 🙂 After these, with their oh-so-creamy filling but with the slight crunch of the cookie part of the Twix, these mini-cheesecakes are the definition of heaven. So go and get yourself a slice of heaven and make these cheesecakes. 😉

Mini Twix Cheesecakes: Adapted from Gingerbread Bagels

Makes 14 mini-cheesecakes

Ingredients

Crust

  • 6 Graham Crackers
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake

  • 2 packages (16 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (I used Chobani instead!)
  • 12 mini Twix bars, chopped into small pieces

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees and line 14 muffin tins.
  2. In a food processor, grind up the graham crackers into fine crumbs. Pour into a bowl and add in the sugar. Mix to combine. Add in the melted butter until fully coated.
  3. Scoop 1 tablespoon of the graham cracker mixture into each cupcake liner and press down firmly with your hand. Set aside.
  4. In a stand mixer, put in the cream cheese and mix for 3 minutes, or until smooth. (A hand mixer works fine) With the mixer on, add in the sugar and combine. Add in the vanilla extract. Beat in the eggs until fully combined. Finally, add in the sour cream and combine.
  5. Add the chopped up mini Twix bars to the cheesecake batter and fold in.
  6. Using and ice cream scooper, scoop the batter into each cupcake liner. Bake for 30 minutes. Refrigerate the cheesecakes overnight, then enjoy!

If you’re having a bad day, make these cheesecakes. If you’re having a good day, make these cheesecakes. If you’re having any day, make these cheesecakes. You won’t regret it! 🙂

-Rayna 🙂