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Cherry Streusel Cheesecake Bars

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Ingredients

For the Streusel

  • 1/4 cup (2.25 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • a pinch of kosher salt

For the Speculoos Cookie Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups (5.25 ounces) finely-processed Speculoos cookie crumbs (see baker's notes for substitutions)
  • 3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces) melted unsalted butter
  • a pinch of kosher salt

For the Cherry Cheesecake Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (8.5 ounces) heaping ripe cherries, stemmed, pitted, and halved

Instructions

For the Streusel

  • Combine 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and a pinch of kosher salt in a medium bowl. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is well combined and crumbly, with both lima bean- and pea-sized clumps. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the Speculoos Cookie Crust

  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 (F). Prepare an 8 x 8-inch pan by lining the bottom and sides of the pan with a sheet of aluminum foil, leaving at least a 2-inch overhang on two opposite sides. Layer a second sheet of aluminum foil on top of this sheet, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the uncovered opposite sides of the pan. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups Speculoos cookie crumbs, 3 tablespoons melted butter, and a pinch of kosher salt. Toss to combine until the mixture has the feel and texture of wet sand.
  • Transfer to the prepared pan and use a tart tamper or your hands to press the crumbs together evenly across the surface of the pan. You want to apply a decent amount of pressure here so that the crust holds its shape after being pressed together; you can even use the bottom of a coffee mug or heavy glass to pound the crumbs in place.
  • Transfer to the oven and bake. Bake for 10 minutes until the crust is set but not completely brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly while preparing the cherry cheesecake filling. Leave the oven on for the next steps.

For the Cherry Cheesecake Filling

  • Reduce the oven heat to 325 (F).
  • In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat 1 1/2 cups cream cheese on medium-low speed until soft, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about another minute. Turn the mixer down to its slowest setting and add 2 eggs, one at a time, only adding the next egg until the previous one is fully incorporated. Once the eggs are incorporated, turn off the mixer and scrape down the paddle and the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Turn the mixer back on to its slowest setting and add 1/2 cup sour cream all at once. Turn the mixer to medium and beat for about 1 minute, or until the sour cream is fully incorporated and the mixture is pale and thick, with a slight shine.
  • Scrape the mixture on top of the parbaked Speculoos cookie crust, using an offset spatula to spread it evenly across the pan. Scatter 1 1/2 cups stemmed, pitted, and halved cherries across the surface of the cheesecake filling. Sprinkle streusel over the cherries and filling. Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the edges are set but the center still wobbles slightly — don’t worry about this wobble, it’ll continue to set after you pull it out of the oven. Transfer to a wire rack to cool to 30 minutes, before transferring to the refrigerator to chill uncovered for about 4 hours, preferably overnight.