Cheesecake Bar – Make Everyone Happy!
This is a post I have dreamed of doing but never had time to get to until today. Join me as I live my dream today!
~Queue angelic choir~
A CHEESECAKE BAR!
Just look at that photo. If you are a cheesecake lover, I bet one of those pieces is just screaming out for you to reach into the computer and pick it up. We had one of these back in the day when I was living in the ladies dorm at the University of North Alabama.
About once a month the cafeteria in my dorm would host a special night where they had steak and other “fancy food”. I usually skipped the night in lieu of studying because as an “older” student I didn’t really feel like I fit in with the rest of the crowd so I mostly stayed in my room and kept my nose in the books. When they boasted a cheesecake bar, though, I was unable to resist. They used store bought cheesecakes but today I’m going to show you how to make your own low-maintenance baked cheesecake at home. Yes, I just said low maintenance baked cheesecake and we’re even doing it all from scratch!
See, where cheesecake throws the most people is you think you have to have a special springform pan for it because just about every cheesecake recipe known to man calls for one. I just refuse to allow my cheesecake to be that high maintenance. I think the main reason a lot of our food gets “uppity” is just because we let it. So today, lets we’re just gonna make us a good old home-grown country cheesecake and if you treat it like it’s a good old country dessert, it’ll act like it’s a good old country dessert!
I think a lot of hoity toity desserts grow tired of their hoity toity lives from time to time. They get used to being served on fancy plates in uppity restaurants day in and day out and what they really wanna do is just kick their shoes off, feel some worn carpet between their little toes, and hang out with the people.
I don’t know about you, but right about now I feel like I’m doing a real public service to cheesecake by making it in my old 9×13 pan.
And I also think its cool that I just managed to somehow give toes to fancy desserts. Hey, as long as I manage to amuse myself we’re good .
The filling itself is pretty simple. Cream Cheese, eggs, little bit of lemon juice, vanilla, and some sugar.
There, pretty straight forward, huh?
Nothing intimidating here, folks!
The crust is even easier: Graham cracker crumbs, butter (or margarine), and sugar.
To make the crust, melt your butter in a bowl and add your sugar.
Then dump in your crumbs.
Stir that up until it’s pretty well blended.
You can add a little more melted butter if you like but don’t worry if it’s still a little crumbly, it’ll be just fine.
Now press that into the bottom of a 9×13 inch pan.
Bake at 350 for about ten minutes, or until lightly golden.
Okay, now put our cheese in a mixing bowl.
It’s important that you soften your cream cheese and butter at room temperature for a while. This is the one thing I really do reccomend at least trying to do. I am the world’s worst at forgetting to get it out and then trying to creatively soften it myself at the last minute. I do a little microwave sometimes, place it on a warm stove top, place it in a gently warmed oven, etc.
Even though I do that when I have to, the absolute best thing to make your life easier is to just put it out on the counter top and let it soften a few hours.
It’s just that this requires advance planning though and therein lies my problem.
I’m not so good at the advance planning part. I’m more of a “Hey, what do I want to make RIGHT NOW and have ready to eat in half an hour?”
~shrugs~ It works for me though because I decided a long time ago to take my persistent character flaws (disorganization, spontaneous burst of excitement, overuse of cosmetics, chattiness, etc) and declare them to be… (wait for it…wait for it…)
Part of my charm.
~winks and grins~
(Oh and that is key. Whenever you declare anything to be part of your natural charm you simply must wink and grin afterwards to prove that you do, after all, have charm. It also helps if you type things in pink from time to time.)
So now that I’ve taught you how to excuse away those nagging character flaws, lets get back to cheesecake.
Add in your sugar and mix that up til it gives in to your will and…
Becomes all creamy. Now add in your eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice.
Now if you are new to Southern Plate, you need to know that I am a huge advocate of using the cheapest ingredients you can find so just head on out and buy that .98 bottle of imitation vanilla and we won’t ever tell. I know a lot of you are diehard-make-your-own-only-pure-vanilla-will-work-for-me type folks and that is perfectly alright to.
You see the cool thing about the Southern Plate family is that we come from all kinds, with all sorts of opinions and ideas about what is ideal in our kitchens, but be us cheap or extravagant, steadfast or go with the flow, we’re all family and we love each other anyway.
I just love you!
I’m using a Mexican vanilla because it’s pretty cheap and you can find it on the aisle with all of the yummy Mexican ingredients. Interesting fact here, did you know that sweetened condensed milk in the Mexican section of my grocery store is over a DOLLAR cheaper than sweetened condensed milk on the baking aisle? It has the identical ingredients, same stuff on the nutrition label, and is made by Nestle, but the label is in Spanish and the sweetened condensed milk on the baking aisle is generally put out by Eagle Brand or some such, but is a DOLLAR more! You know what this tells you?
Spanish speaking folks are smarter than us – and a dollar richer every time they buy sweetened condensed milk
You can’t take anything for granted shopping. I price check just about everything each time I shop for groceries.
Oh okay! I’ll get back to the cheesecake again…
Beat that until its all smooth and creamy, or until you get tired of fooling with it – whichever comes first.
Give you one guess which came first for me
Smear that into your pan, spreading it over your crust.
Place this in a 300 degree oven and bake for 55 minutes, or until set in the center.
Now here is another part about making a cheesecake that folks have little frantic fits over: how to prevent cracking.
There are all sorts of things you can do to avoid the center of your cheesecake cracking. You can place a dish of water beneath it in the oven. You can hit the pan gently a few times on the counter to get out any air bubbles that might have gotten trapped while you were mixing it. You can also make sure your cream cheese is really softened because if there were lumps in it (you know, those little bumpy things you see in my picture right above here) they may cause a crack to form as well.
Or you can just do like I do and cook it and not worry about it because in the grand scheme of things, how important is it? I mean, if someone hands me a piece of homemade cheesecake, the last thing on my mind is taking time to pause and critique it. I bet your family is the same. Seriously, I’m starting to think there has been a vast conspiracy among some people to make the rest of us think cheesecake is high maintenance just so they can keep it to themselves. To them I say “Pfft!”
Alright, now lets talk toppings while that cheesecake is baking.
Here are some topping ideas I came up with but the possibilities are limitless.
- Any type of canned pie filling (blueberry, strawberry, cherry, etc)
- Canned mandarin oranges (drain the juice)
- Caramel topping
- Super easy praline sauce*
- chocolate syrup
- chocolate chips
- Whipped cream
Did you catch that *super easy praline sauce up there? Want the recipe? Here it is and it is sooooooooo very complicated..
place pecans in a jar, fill about halfway.
Pour in some store bought caramel topping, whatever is cheapest
and There ya go!
Pecan Praline Sauce.
Don’t tell anyone how easy that was and we’ll just keep it between us.
Now for the cheesecake photos!
This is our pecan praline sauce
Cherry Pie Filling
Blueberry Pie Filling
They are just canned ones that I drained but really pretty and delicious on top of cheesecake
Louise submitted a great quote that seems just like something my mother would say
and is definitely something my Mama has always taught me to live by.
It is easier to leave angry words unspoken
than to mend a heart those words have broken.
Thank you Louise! Submit your quote by clicking here and visiting our Give A Penny Page