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Blueberry Cheesecake Bars with streusel almond topping

Here’s hoping you all had a fun and happy Fourth of July, celebrating with family and friends. We spent the day with family, enjoying a delicious clambake, with these blueberry cheesecake bars for dessert. The recipe comes from a website called  Valeries Kitchen, although I gussied it up a bit with the addition of a streusel topping. You could omit that if you like, but it gave it a nice crunchy contrast to the creamy cheesecake filling. Made in a 13″ x 9″ pan, it serves a crowd. I cut it into 20 individual pieces, but you could make your pieces smaller, or larger.

Make sure to chill it unsliced at least four hours, or preferably overnight, to make it easier to slice.

They’re sure to be a hit with any crowd, whether you’re celebrating a holiday or just enjoying an ordinary day at home.

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Blueberry Cheesecake Bars with streusel almond topping
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • From www.Valerieskitchen.com
  • FOR THE CRUST:
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (you'll need 14 whole rectangle shaped graham crackers)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • FOR THE CHEESECAKE:
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (reduced fat or regular)
  • ½ cup sour cream (light or regular)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries (about 2 cups)
  • STREUSEL TOPPING (optional):
  • 4 tablespoons buttter
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Make the streusel topping by mixing the flour, sugar and cinnamon with the butter, using your fingers to blend the butter with the other ingredients.
  3. Stir in the almonds and set the streusel topping aside while you prepare the cheesecake.
  4. Coat a 13- x 9-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  5. For the Crust:
  6. Break 14 graham crackers in half and place in the bowl of a food processor.
  7. Process until they are fine crumbs.
  8. Add the sugar and melted butter and process again to combine well.
  9. Transfer the crumb mixture to the prepared baking dish and press down to form an even layer.
  10. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned.
  11. Remove dish from the oven and let cool slightly while you prepare the filling.
  12. For the Filling:
  13. Add cream cheese and sour cream to a large bowl and using hand or stand mixer, beat on medium speed until smooth.
  14. Add in the sugar and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.
  15. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  16. Blend in the vanilla extract, salt, lemon zest and lemon juice. Fold in the blueberries gently with a wooden spoon until evenly incorporated.
  17. Pour the mixture over the graham cracker crust and gently spread into an even layer with an offset spatula.
  18. Scatter the streusel topping over the cheesecake.
  19. Bake for 35 minutes or until the center appears to be just set.
  20. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
  21. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before slicing and serving.
 

Ottolenghi’s Blueberry, Almond and Lemon Cake

There are infinite cake recipes and infinite GOOD cake recipes. Then there are GREAT cake recipes. This one, from Yotam Ottolenghi, is one of those. It may not be the biggest cake out there — it doesn’t serve a ton of people. But it’s one you’ll want to make again and again. It has a really tender and moist texture, a lively lemon flavor and blueberries too. I love this cake so much I’ll be making this without the fruit when blueberry season is long gone. Many of the blueberries will sink to the bottom (sorry, even if you coat them first in flour, which I did) but if you follow the directions and reserve some to place on the top after the cake’s been baking for 15 minutes, they won’t sink. Scout’s honor.

Make sure to leave the cake in the oven for the entire time mentioned in the recipe to allow it to rise properly and not sink in the middle. Just cover with a tented piece of aluminum foil if it starts to get too browned. Let it cool and drizzle with a lemon glaze. You’ll find it hard to stop eating slice after slice, I promise.

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Blueberry, Almond and Lemon Cake
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ cup (1 stick) plus 3 tablespoons/150 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the pan
  • 1 scant cup/190 grams granulated or superfine sugar (caster sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or more juice as needed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (vanilla essence)
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • ⅔ cup/90 grams all-purpose flour (plain flour), sifted
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup/110 grams almond flour (ground almonds)
  • 1 ½ cups/200 grams fresh blueberries
  • ⅔ cup/70 grams confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit/200 degrees Celsius.
  2. Grease a 9- or 8-inch/21-centimeter loaf pan with butter, line it with a parchment paper sling and butter the paper. (I didn't use the parchment paper but just buttered and floured the pan.)
  3. Set the pan aside.
  4. Place butter, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  5. Beat on high speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until light, then lower speed to medium.
  6. Add eggs in three additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times as necessary.
  7. The mix may split a little but don’t worry: It’ll come back together once you add the dry ingredients.
  8. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and almond flour.
  9. With the stand mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in three additions, mixing just until no white specks remain.
  10. Fold in about ¾ of the blueberries by hand, then scoop batter into the prepared loaf pan.
  11. Bake for 15 minutes, then sprinkle the remaining blueberries over the top of the cake.
  12. Return to the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes, until cake is golden brown but still uncooked.
  13. Cover loosely with foil and continue to cook for another 25 to 30 minutes (less for a 9-inch pan, more for an 8-inch pan), or until risen and cooked, and a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  14. Remove from oven and set aside in its pan to cool for 10 minutes before removing cake from pan and placing on a wire rack to cool completely.
  15. When cake is cool, make the icing: Add lemon juice and icing sugar to a bowl and whisk together until smooth, adding a bit more juice if necessary, just until the icing moves when you tilt the bowl. Pour over the cake and gently spread out.
  16. The blueberries on the top of the cake may bleed into the icing a little, but this will add to the look. Let icing set (about 30 minutes), slice and serve.
 

 

 

Blueberry Tart

We’re in full blueberry season here in New Jersey and one of the most delicious ways to highlight this fruit is to give it a starring role in a tart. This one raises the bar even higher with an oatmeal crumb topping. I used an 8″ tart pan, since it was just for the two of us. But if you want to bake it in a standard 9″ tart pan, just increase the amounts as I’ve written in the recipe. Don’t forget to add the lemon juice and lemon zest. Without it, the blueberries just don’t have that “zing” that the citrus adds.

You’ll get four servings from this small tart pan and I guarantee you it won’t last long.

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Blueberry Tart
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • FOR THE PASTRY (This makes enough for two 9" tart shells. I place the extra one in the freezer):
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine salt
  • ½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into dice
  • 2 large eggs
  • FOR THE FILLING - amounts are for an 8" tart. Measurements for a 9" tart are in parentheses:
  • 3 cups blueberries (4 cups)
  • ¼ cup white sugar (1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch or flour (1/4 cup)
  • grated zest of a lemon
  • juice of half a lemon
  • FOR THE TOPPING: amounts are for an 8" tart. Measurements for a 9" tart are in parentheses:
  • ½ cups old-fashioned oats (3/4 cup)
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar (1/2 cup)
  • ¼ cup flour (1/3 cup)
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon (3/4 tsp.)
  • 4 tablespoons butter (6 tablespoons)
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, combine the flour, granulated sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, and salt and pulse to mix.
  2. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly.
  3. Add the eggs and process just until the dough comes together.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, divide it in half, and pat it into two disks.
  5. Wrap one half in plastic wrap and freeze for another use.
  6. Wrap the second piece and refrigerate it for 1 hour.
  7. Remove the pastry disk from the refrigerator.
  8. On a lightly floured surface, roll the disk into a 12-inch circle.
  9. Carefully transfer the dough to a 10-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom.
  10. Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
  11. Trim the overhang.
  12. Refrigerate for 1 hour (or up to overnight).
  13. Preheat the oven to 475° F.
  14. Remove the tart shell from the refrigerator.
  15. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork.
  16. Bake until the edges are just beginning to turn golden, about 10 minutes.
  17. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Leave the oven on but reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.
  18. Mix the blueberries with the lemon zest, sugar, flour and lemon juice.
  19. In a separate bowl, mix the oatmeal with the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter.
  20. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, blend everything together until it's crumbly.
  21. Gelntly place the blueberries into the pastry shell and top with the crumb mixture.
  22. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
 

 

Very Berry Crostata

With all sorts of berries coming into season right now in the Eastern U.S., it’s time to make this tart. Two extra containers of blackberries were unexpectedly included in my last food delivery, so I had plenty to make this tart. I actually made it twice — the first time with a purchased puff pastry shell, and the second time with this dough recipe, from Domenica Marchetti. We liked the crostata made with puff pastry well enough, but the texture of the crust with Domenica’s recipe was so far superior, retaining its crispness on the bottom after baking, that I doubt I’ll use the puff pastry again for a crostata. Plus the flavor, with its touch of lemon, is better with Domenica’s recipe. Her recipe makes enough for two crostate, tarts or pies, so keep one tucked away in the freezer. By the way, a crostata in Italy is generally presented as a tart with a lattice crust, as in this recipe for fig crostata, but many recipe writers use the term interchangeably with galette, the French word for a rustic, open-faced tart. If you’re inclined to call it a galette, go right ahead, but I gravitate to the Italian word whenever given the choice.

Roll out one half of the dough to a diameter of about 16 inches. Don’t worry if it’s not a perfect circle, just get it close enough, then slide it onto a Silpat- or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. I put the cookie sheet in the refrigerator in the 15 minutes it took to prepare the fruit, to help the butter bits chill and solidify, making for a flakier crust.

Sprinkle the toasted almonds over the center of the pastry. It helps as a barrier to keep the crust from getting soggy, but also adds more flavor and texture.  Mix the berries with sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch.

Carefully place the fruit in the center of the crust, over the almonds, leaving a border of about two inches all around. Flip up the border, pinching it together all around the perimeter.

Brush it with a liquid like beaten egg yolk or milk. I had buttermilk in the house, so I used that. Press some almonds all around the edges.

Placement in the oven is very important in order not to have a soggy bottom. Place the crostata on the bottom rack of  a 375 fahrenheit degree oven for a half hour. Then remove it to the highest rack for another 15 minutes. You may get some spillage of the liquid, as I did, if any of the edges had a split, as happened when I poked my nail through the crust. Don’t worry about it though, there will be plenty of other juice within the crostata.

After it has cooled, carefully slide it off the Silpat or parchment paper onto a serving dish. The fruit has a “dull” appearance when it comes out of the oven, but to give it a “glistening look,” melt a bit of quince or apple jelly and spread it on top of the fruit.

Here’s a photo of the bottom crust to show you how well baked it should be if you follow the directions exactly.

Sprinkle the edges with some confectioner’s sugar and dig in.

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Very Berry Crostata
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • FOR THE PASTRY (Domenica Marchetti's recipe makes enough for two crostate)
  • 2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine salt
  • ½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into dice
  • 2 large eggs
  • FOR THE BERRY FILLING:
  • 4 cups fruit (I used two cups strawberries, and the rest a mix of blueberries and blackberries)
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted, plus more for the top
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • FOR THE TOP:
  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk, milk or beaten egg
  • slivered almonds
  • powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, combine the flour, granulated sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, and salt and pulse to mix.
  2. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly.
  3. Add the eggs and process just until the dough comes together.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, divide it in half, and pat it into two disks.
  5. Wrap one half in plastic wrap and freeze for another use.
  6. Wrap the second piece and refrigerate it for 1 hour.
  7. Remove it from the refrigerator and roll it out to a diameter of about 15-16 inches.
  8. Carefully transfer the pastry to a Silpat- or parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  9. Sprinkle the toasted almonds on the dough.
  10. Mix the ingredients for the filling and pile on top of the slivered almonds inside the dough, leaving a border of about 2 inches all around.
  11. Gather the border and crimp to encase the fruit.
  12. Spread some of the milk, buttermilk or beaten egg on the edges of the crostata.
  13. Sprinkle with slivered almonds.
  14. Bake on the lowest oven rack at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, then remove it and place on an upper rack for another 15 minutes.
  15. When it cools, spread a little quince or apple jelly over the fruit to make it glisten.
  16. Sprinkle the edges with a little powdered sugar.
 

Berry Cheese Tart

 This was supposed to be a strictly strawberry tart with farm fresh Jersey strawberries. ‘Tis the season, after all. But I couldn’t resist snacking on a couple of those luscious red beauties nestled in the container beside me on my drive home from the farm. (OK, so I ate more than a couple if you must know, but how can you not at this time of year, when they’re so sweet and delicious.)
Hence, rather than make another 1/2 hour round trip to the farm, I opted for a two minute walk to my local health food store, where the organic raspberries and blueberries tempted me.
I’ve made berry tarts before, with different fillings, including this one with a traditional pastry cream, and this one with a mascarpone-lemon curd filling.
This time though, I opted for a cream cheese filling. I used only one eight-ounce package of cream cheese, and let the berries take the starring role, but if you prefer more filling, just double the recipe and bake it for another 10 minutes or so. Another feature of this tart is the layer of slivered almonds below the filling, above the crust. It adds more flavor but also helps to avoid a soggy crust.
I used Domenica Marchetti’s delicious recipe for the crust, but added a little almond extract rather than the lemon, to continue with the almond theme.
Berry Cheese Tart
tart crust:
Domenica Marchetti’s recipe:
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • Finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon (I used one 1 teaspoon. almond extract instead)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large whole egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • Note: This makes a lot of dough – enough for two tarts. Or make one large one and several small ones, or one large tart and use the rest to roll out delicious cookies that taste like shortbread.
Filling:
1/2 cup sliced almonds
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. sugar
2 T. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 large or extra large egg
Topping:
1 quart strawberries (two if you want to use only strawberries)
or add blueberries and raspberries
quince jelly (or any clear jelly)
Put the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse briefly to combine. Distribute the butter around the bowl and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the whole egg and egg yolks and process until the mixture just begins to clump together in the work bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and briefly knead it together. Without overworking it, shape the dough into a disk, patting rather than kneading it. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until well chilled.
Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and cut it in half. You’ll need only one of these halves for this tart. Use the rest for another tart, freeze it, or make small tarts or cookies.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to fit a tart pan with a removable bottom (mine was 9 inches in diameter, but you can use a smaller one) Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Use the rolling pin or the flat of your hand to press around the perimeter of the pan to cut off any excess dough. Prick the bottom all around with a fork. Put the lined tart pan in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. I “blind-bake” the crust by buttering some aluminum foil and pressing that lightly over the raw dough. Then add some beans or rice to weigh it down. Bake for about 10 minutes, then remove the foil and beans and bake for another 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and let it cool completely while you mix the filling.
Put the cream cheese, sugar, cream, almond extra and egg into a food processor and pulse until well blended and smooth.
Spread the sliced almonds over the pre-baked crust, then pour the filling on top. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 15-20 minutes or until set.
Let the tart cool and place the berries on top. Heat some of the jelly in the microwave slightly to make it spreadable. Using a pastry brush, cover the berries with a thin layer of the jelly. Refrigerate and serve.

Very Berry Tart

 “It’s spring! It’s spring!” Babar, the king of the elephants says one sunny day he opens his window and sees that the leaves and flowers seem to have opened overnight. Don’t ask me why that line stands out to me, (maybe because I read it hundreds of times to my kids), but that’s what I think of when I see this tart. It’s as pretty as a fine spring day, and tastes equally delicious too, with its luscious lemony filling.

The crust is really special too – it’s the same one I used for the ricotta tart I made for Easter from Domenica Marchetti. But I blind-baked it first this time, then added the filling. After you’ve placed the dough into the tart pan, use a fork to prick it all around.
Spray one side of aluminum foil with Pam, or butter it lightly, then press it down over the dough and add some beans or rice to keep the dough from puffing up during the baking.
Remove it from the oven and let it cool completely before adding the filling. (Hint – if you want to take the easy way out – go buy a pie crust all ready for the oven. I won’t tell. But Domenica’s crust recipe is so much better than anything store bought.) The filling is a snap to make, since all you do is open a jar of lemon curd and mix some of it with mascarpone cheese.
Now comes the fun part – arranging the berries in a pretty design.
Spread some clear or light colored jelly over the berries and chill before serving.
And don’t forget to open the windows to enjoy the spring flowers that seem to have opened overnight.

 

Very Berry Tart
tart crust:
Domenica Marchetti’s recipe:
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • Finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large whole egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • Note: This makes a lot of dough – enough for two tarts. Or make one large one and several small ones, or one large tart and use the rest to make delicious cookies that taste like shortbread.
Put the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse briefly to combine. Distribute the butter around the bowl and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the whole egg and egg yolks and process until the mixture just begins to clump together in the work bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and briefly knead it together. Without overworking it, shape the dough into a disk, patting rather than kneading it. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until well chilled.
Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and cut it in half. You’ll need only one of these halves for this tart. Use the rest for another tart, freeze it, or make small tarts or cookies.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to fit a tart pan with a removable bottom (mine was 9 inches in diameter, but you can use a smaller one) Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Use the rolling pin or the flat of your hand to press around the perimeter of the pan to cut off any excess dough. Prick the bottom all around with a fork. Put the lined tart pan in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. I “blind-bake” the crust by buttering some aluminum foil and pressing that lightly over the raw dough. Then add some beans or rice to weigh it down. Bake for about 10 minutes, then remove the foil and beans and bake for another 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and let it cool completely before adding the filling.
filling:
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
1 cup lemon curd
berries for top
light colored jelly or jam for glaze
Blend the mascarpone and lemon curd together with a whisk. Spread it over the baked tart crust.
Top with berries (I used a combination of raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries), arranged in a pretty design. Spread a light colored jelly or jam over the top. I used homemade quince jelly, but apricot or apple or orange would be fine too. Warm it in the microwave first to loosen the jelly a bit so you’ll be able to spread it better.