There's no denying that Americans love cheesecake. This dessert commands a cult-like following, thanks in part to re-runs of "The Golden Girls and an entire restaurant chain that bears its name. (The Cheesecake Factory alone sells more than 35 million cheesecakes each year.) But while we love to eat our cheesecake, we don't often love to bake it on our own.
"When I tell people we're going to eat cheesecake, their faces instantly light up, but when I tell people we're going to make it, they look nervous," Salon's resident pastry chef Meghan McGarry says. "I think people can be intimidated by cheesecake, because it requires not only a lot of time but also a lot of attention. And it also requires a special pan, and you have to bake it in a water bath."
Salon Food partnered with McGarry, the owner of the beloved Buttercream Blondie brand, to help bakers of all skill levels conquer your fears about baking cheesecake. The result is a cheesecake recipe that yields everything you love about your favorite dessert with all of the hard work removed. That means no springform pan — all you need is an 8x8.
This recipe is the perfect description of what McGarry does: reinventing classic desserts and taking them to soaring new heights. Her easy-to-bake cheesecake actually makes over two comfort desserts, bringing them together in a whole new way. You may have missed it when you first looked at the photo, but the crust of this cheesecake is actually an oatmeal cookie.
Cheesecake bars more often than not have a graham cracker crust, but McGarry knows how to flirt with dessert. The added bonus of an oatmeal cookie has all of those flavors that you know and love: cinnamon, light brown sugar and vanilla. The addition of bourbon takes this cookie to the next level. Combined, these cozy flavors set the stage for the whole production.
Blueberries harken the call for spring and warmer weather, and they lighten up the filling in addition to brightening up the flavor. But the blueberry compote here is the literal icing on the cake. It's not only a simple way to add a pop of fresh fruit flavor just in time for summer. This compote is also ridiculously simple to make, so it's a great recipe to keep top of mind. Once you make it the first time, you'll want to make it again with more foods than just cheesecake. This compote will soon become your go-to for breakfast and brunch, where you can elevate Greek yogurt and pancakes. The possibilities are endless.
Recipe: Blueberry Bliss Cheesecake Bars
Yields 12 bars
Oatmeal Cookie Crust:
- 4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp. bourbon
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 & 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray an 8x8-inch pan with non-stick pan spray and line with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang so you can easily lift the bars out. Spray once more and set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add egg, bourbon and vanilla, and continue mixing until combined.
Click here to access the remainder of Meghan McGarry's cheesecake bars recipe. And don't forget to follow @ButtercreamBlondie on Instagram for more ways to spike your desserts!