Recipe: Lemon-Blackberry Cheesecake Bars with Toasted Coconut Crust

updated Jan 21, 2020
summer
Cheesecake Bars

Impressive yet easy-to-make cheesecake bars with a coconut shortbread crust and a tangy lemon-blackberry filling.

Makes24 bars

Prep5 hours to 6 hours

Cook1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

No matter the question, cheesecake bars are always the answer. Need a crowd-pleasing, transportable dessert for a potluck? Cheesecake bars. An impressive-looking treat to set out for company? Cheesecake bars. A make-ahead sweet to enjoy throughout the week? Cheesecake bars.

This lemon-blackberry version is my latest favorite. The tangy, ultra-creamy filling sits atop a buttery, coconut-flecked shortbread crust, making every bite pure bliss. Try it first as directed, then switch it up and try a strawberry or raspberry variety.

Use Your Food Processor for Easier Cheesecake Bars

I like to think of these bars as the easier, more weeknight-friendly version of a traditional cheesecake. Sure, they need a few hours in the fridge to firm up, but the process of making them is easy — especially with the help of your food processor.

The base is a shortbread crust with a lemon-coconut twist. You’ll combine the flour, powdered, sugar, toasted coconut, lemon zest, and salt in the food processor, then scatter cold butter over top and pulse until a dough forms. Unlike working the butter in with your hands, the food processor keeps the ingredients cold and makes for a tender crust.

As the crust bakes, you’ll wipe out the food processor and use it again to purée the blackberries, then one last time to whip up the cream cheese filling. The fact that just one appliance pulls together this entire recipe truly delights me.

Oh, and as for the swirls: You’ll be shocked at how easy it is to create such an intricate-looking pattern. (In fact, I got so overly confident after making these bars that I assumed I would be just as good at latte art. Turns out that’s not really how it works.) All you’ll do is spread the blackberry cheesecake filling over the crust, dollop the plain filling over top, then swirl the dollops with a toothpick to create a marbled effect.

More Cheesecake Bar Recipes

(Image credit: The Kitchn)

Cheesecake Bars

Impressive yet easy-to-make cheesecake bars with a coconut shortbread crust and a tangy lemon-blackberry filling.

Prep time 5 hours to 6 hours

Cook time 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes

Makes 24 bars

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups

    sweetened shredded coconut

  • 1 1/2 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup

    powdered sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    finely grated lemon zest

  • 12 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and at room temperature

  • Cooking spray or butter, for greasing the pan

For the filling:

  • 4 (8-ounce) blocks

    cream cheese, at room temperature

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 4

    large eggs

  • 2 teaspoons

    finely grated lemon zest

  • 2 tablespoons

    freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

  • 2 pints

    blackberries

Instructions

  1. Make the crust: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Spread the coconut in an even layer in a 9x13-inch metal baking pan. Toast, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the oven.

  2. Place the flour, powdered sugar, salt, and 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add the toasted coconut and pulse until combined. Scatter the butter over the top and pulse until the mixture forms moist clumps.

  3. Line the now-empty baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil so it hangs over all sides. Coat with cooking spray or butter. Transfer the dough to the pan and press into a thin, even layer that covers the bottom of the pan. Bake until just beginning to brown, 20 to 25 minutes; set aside to cool. Reduce the oven temperatre to 325°F.

  4. Make the filling: Wipe out the food processor with paper towels. While the crust is baking, place the blackberries in the food processor and process until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a small bowl or measuring cup, pressing with the back of a spoon (you should end up with 1 cup purée). Discard the seeds and set the purée aside. Rinse out and dry the food processor.

  5. Place the cream cheese in the bowl of the food processor. Process until very smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and salt and process until incorporated, about 1 minute more. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the motor running, add the eggs one at a time until just incorporated. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest, and process until just combined.

  6. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the cream cheese filling to a small bowl and set aside. Add the blackberry purée to the remaining filling in the food processor and process until combined. Pour the blackberry filling over the cooled crust. Dollop the reserved plain filling on top (leaving space between each dollop) and swirl with a toothpick or skewer to create a marbled effect.

  7. Bake at 325°F until the edges are puffed and set but the center still jiggles slightly, 30 to 40 minutes. Place the baking dish on a wire rack and cool completely, about 2 hours. Cover with foil and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight. Use the parchment paper or foil to remove from the pan and cut into 24 pieces.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.