Sunday, April 10, 2016

Maple Pecan Cheesecake Bars

I've been tinkering with this one for a couple of weeks now, and it's a really lovely and comforting (co-worker approved) treat without too much sugar added. It does require a few hours of refrigeration to set up, like any cheesecake, but apart from that it's very simple to put together. 

There are just a few ingredients: pecans and dates for the crust, and cream cheese, sour cream, maple syrup, vanilla, and one egg for the filling. 

First, bring the cheese, cream and egg to room temperature. Pre-heat the oven, then start the crust. Put one cup of pecans (toasted or raw, but no salt added) 1/3 cup pitted dates, and a tiny pinch of salt into a food processor. Start by pulsing and then press on until it's all evenly ground together. This should just take about a minute or two. Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with a piece of foil big enough to hang over two edges (you'll use this sling to take the bars out of the pan later) and press the mixture evenly into the foil liner. Press it a little up the edges, too. Set aside until the filling is ready.

Now, the filling: Put 1 1/2 pkgs cream cheese (12 oz) into a mixer or a bowl and stir a bit. Add 2-3 Tbsp sour cream and 1/4 cup maple syrup and mix until combined on medium-low. It's important to not over-beat the cream cheese. It's ok if it's a little lumpy looking--the lumpy bits will melt into the rest. If it's over-beaten, on the other hand, it'll be lumpy when it's cooked. 

Add the egg and 1/2 tsp vanilla and beat just until mixed in well. Spread evenly over the crust (an offset spatula woulda been perfect for this, but the silicone scraper was already covered in batter, so why dirty something else?) and put in the 325 degree oven for about 25 minutes, just until set on top. Let cool at room temp for one hour, um, somewhere your pets can't get to it and sneak little bites when they think you're not looking, and then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. 

Remove from the pan, using the foil sling, and cut into pieces. Serve as is or with a cup of coffee. Most of all, enjoy the treat! 

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