Blueberry cheesecake bars are layer upon layer of happiness – buttery graham cracker crust, a layer of cheesecake that’s thin enough to let the other flavors shine but rich enough not to get lost, sweet-tart blueberry pie filling, and fluffy whipped cream. This recipe is from my mom’s mom, so I think these bars could safely be called “vintage”, although they’re called Blueberry Delight on the typewriter-typed recipe card we have. Even though I was suspicious of desserts with fruit and cream cheese as a kid, I loved when my mom made it. I hadn’t had it in years (apparently Jay has never had it? So…more than 10 years??) and got it in my head to make a version with homemade blueberry pie filling instead of canned, and here you have it (although I don’t know that adding that step really made it awesome-er, so you’ll see both options in the instructions at the bottom)!
Start with crushed graham crackers, sugar, and butter – I mix them together right in the baking dish, then press the crumbs down with the back of a measuring cup. The cream cheese layer is only three ingredients, too – cream cheese whipped with sugar, then eggs. The cheesecake layer and graham cracker crust bake together, then cool before the blueberries get slathered on.
To make your own blueberry pie filling, combine water, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Then add three cups of berries – you can use fresh or frozen – and simmer and smash the blueberries for a few minutes until it’s thick and glossy and gorgeous. Depending on the sweetness of your blueberries, you can adjust the amount of sugar and lemon juice to taste!
Once the blueberry pie filling and cheesecake are cooled to room temperature, you can spread the berries on top. Chill for an hour or so (if you can fit a 9×13 pan in your freezer, you can speed up this step a bit) so it’s really cold before adding whipped cream. Then the whole thing goes in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it! The layers are beautiful and the whole thing looks impressive, even though nothing about it is actually complicated (and I think it’s easier than making a layer cake: #nofrostingskills).
Blueberry cheesecake bars for Memorial Day, anyone?? I hope you love them!
Blueberry Cheesecake Bars.
For the crust:
- 1.5 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 10-11 whole graham crackers)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 6 Tablespoons butter, melted
For the cheesecake layer:
- 1 (8 oz) block of cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
For the blueberry layer:
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1 (21 oz) can blueberry pie filling
For the whipped cream layer:
- 8 oz whipping cream
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 oz Cool Whip, thawed in the fridge
Preheat the oven to 350.
Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a 9x13 pan. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan.
In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition, and beat until smooth.
Pour the cream cheese mixture over the graham cracker crust, then bake for 20-25 minutes, until set but try to avoid it browning too much at the edges. Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, if making the blueberry filling, add the water, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice to a saucepan. Whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved, then add the berries and bring to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat. Smash the berries with a potato masher (or the back of a spoon) to your desired consistency. Allow the smashed berry mixture to simmer for another minute (so that it simmers for a total of 2-3 minutes), until it is glossy and thickened, then remove from heat and allow to cool.
When the cheesecake and blueberry mixture are cool, spread the blueberries evenly over the top of the cheesecake. (If you use canned blueberry pie filling, just spread it on top when the cheesecake layer is cool.) Chill, covered, for at least an hour (you want to make sure it's completely cold before adding the whipped cream topping). You can speed this step up if your pan fits in the freezer.
To make the whipped cream topping, add the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla to a bowl (I try to remember to chill mine in the fridge for awhile first) and beat until it turns into whipped cream with stiff peaks. "Ice" the chilled blueberry cheesecake bars with the whipped cream (or Cool Whip, if you prefer) and serve immediately or chill until ready to serve! It's best if the whole thing can chill for at least a couple of hours, and the pieces will be easier to slice and remove from the pan, but it will be good no matter what.
This recipe is originally from my mom's mom. The homemade blueberry pie filling is adapted from this recipe from the NY Times.
Please note that the total time includes the initial chilling step, but not any additional chilling you may want to do once all the layers are together.
I've also used orange juice in place of lemon juice, and if you want a zestier filling (haha, wait for it...) you can include some lemon or orange zest, as well (I would try 1/2 a teaspoon).
This recipe brought to you by Bet On Dinner at betondinner.com!