Saturday, March 24, 2012

Lemon & Strawberry Cheesecake Creme Brulee Bars

(Click on photos for larger images)

My mom has a lemon tree that grows a lot of lemons. The Chopping Block's mom has three lemon trees! Do you know how many lemons that means for us? A whole lot of delicious lemons! I saw these cute little lemon cheesecake squares on Lauren's Latest, and I thought what a good way to use up some of my lemons! I doubled her recipe to get 32 squares! Whoa! I bought them over to a friend's house to share, so don't judge!

I totally played around and altered a large part of her recipe. I decided to add in some strawberries because why not! My mom came back to California for a visit (she moved to Seattle), and when I went to visit her, she gave me a big thing of strawberries. And you know, strawberries and lemons go together like raspberries and lemons (as in awesomely well). I also changed her cheesecake recipe. I wasn't too sure about the cheesecake portion of the recipe, so I switched it out with a more familiar version from Chef John, which I also altered because that's what I do.

Here are some of the lemons I picked from my mom's tree.

Lots of photos of lemons because they're so cute and pretty!

I squeezed and zest-ed a whole bunch of lemons! It was a lot of work!

I was taking photos of the strawberries, and Soy Sauce decided she wanted to know what's up. (Soy sauce is my cat).

This strawberry was gynormous! You probably can't use my hand for scale because my hands are freaking huge too, but look! This is like the only photo where my nail polish isn't all chipped. Yay.


Cookie Crust:
1 cup softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice (about 2-3 lemons)
1 egg
3 tablespoons lemon zest
About 9 large strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup granulated sugar for brulee-ing, approximately

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I'm kind of lazy so I didn't line my dish with parchment paper, but if you're a go-getter, I think you should. It makes it a lot easier to take out of the dish. Line a 9" x 13" glass dish with parchment paper and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

2. In large bowl, combine butter, sugar, flour and vanilla until dough forms. I used a rubber spatula at first, then I decided it was a lot easier to just mix it with my hands. Don't worry, I totally washed my hands before doing that. Then I used my hands to press the dough into the bottom of prepared dish. I find it easier to use my palms rather than my fingers. Set aside.

3. In another bowl, mix flour, sour cream and vanilla extract. Set aside.

4. In a separate bowl, mix softened cream cheese with sugar. Once that's well combined, add in the lemon juice little by little. I whisked it by hand, and incorporating the lemon juice slowly makes sure that you have a smooth batter. Now mix in the egg. Make sure you scrape down the sides as you're mixing. Once the eggs are incorporated, add in the lemon zest and mix one last time.

5. Pour your sour cream mixture into your cream cheese mixture and mix, mix, mix. Sorry for the lack of photos for steps 1-5. I took photos, but they all came out bad. I seriously have no natural light that comes into my kitchen. None. Nada. It's pitch black in there.

6. Now we're going to go back to the cookie dough crust. You want to pour in 1/4 of the cheesecake batter onto the dough. Then layer the strawberry slices on top. I alternated the strawberry slices so that I would have better coverage since they are kind of triangular shaped. Pour the rest of the cheesecake mixture over the strawberries and smooth the top.

7. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes and then drop the temperature down to 250 degrees and bake for 45 minutes or until cheesecake is set completely. This means that it won't jiggle when you shake it. Cool, then refrigerate overnight.

Oops. My cheesecake cracked a little here and there.

8. Cut into 32 squares and separate. Sprinkle the tops of each square with 1 teaspoon of sugar and spread around with finger to evenly distribute sugar. Torch the tops until the sugar melts and turns an amber color. If you don’t have a torch, place under the broiler. If you don't serve the bruleed pieces within a couple of hours, the hardened sugar will dissolve into liquid... so you should probably serve it soon after you brulee your pieces.

I need to clean my knife between cuts. If you don't, you'll get this sloppy cuts like me, kids.

Sprinkling some sugar.

For some strange reason, the flame didn't show up in the photo, but I swear, there's a flame!


  1. Is the reason to lower the temperature down to keep the cheesecake from cracking and getting too dry at the top?

    1. Uh huh! If you over bake your cheesecake, it'll crack. Cooking it on a lower temperature just gives you more buffer zone to watch it and make sure it doesn't get over-baked. Also I think it makes the texture a little smoother, but mostly because that's what the recipe said. :p

  2. Whoa. Super fancy photos and pretty cheesecake.