This has been my go-to cheesecake for as long as I have cooked. Gourmet Magazine published it in 1999, but the recipe hailed from Santa Fe’s Three Cities of Spain coffeehouse* a place I didn’t know a thing about until this week, when curiosity got the better of my intentions to something succinct about cake for once in my food blogging life. Up the road from an artists’ colony, it was apparently a popular hangout in the 1960s for local bohemia, hosting an eclectic mix of entertainment from poets and musicians to foreign films. It closed in the mid-1970s, probably around the time Santa Fe was starting to become too expensive for starving artists. Canyon Road, once dirt, was paved. From Googling, it looks like the old adobe home that housed it (apparently built in 1756) became Geronimo restaurant (named after the man who built it) in the early 1990s, and is still open today. What does this have to do with the cheesecake they kept in the pastry case? Very little, friends — and please correct me if this Manhattan-ite got any Santa Fe details wrong — but I can’t resist a cake with a story.
My cheesecake story is much less interesting; this site’s archives would tell you otherwise but I came late to it. My husband loves it, many of you who read this site seem to love it, and I don’t… dislike it, I just don’t need more than one or two slices a year. I find it so heavy and overly monotonous; I always wish the proportions were different, say, the same amount of buttery crust and whatever topping you wish but a thinner layer of baked cream cheese custard. It not a testament to my mental acuity that it took me this many years to figure out this was the easiest way to make it happen. As bars, the taste is less heavy, it feeds a lot more people, and it’s portable, meaning it can go anywhere you want to this weekend (your friends thank you, in advance).
What I’ve always loved about this cheesecake is the dead simplicity of it — 3 bricks of cream cheese, 4 eggs, 1 cup of sugar, some vanilla — and the creaminess despite the lack of sour cream or other dairy within. There no flour and no fuss. If your cream cheese is soft enough, you could whisk it entirely by hand. It’s much less sweet than most, so it doesn’t taste like, say, baked cream cheese frosting, and it’s topped with a layer of barely sugared sour cream that’s baked right onto the cake. I think it’s brilliant; it’s a harmonious accent and visually pleasing but more importantly, since I have very little patience for baking in water baths (although with bars like this, and not a potentially leaky springform, it would be as easy as it gets), this topping hides any cracks that might appear.
I had intended to maybe marble in a berry sauce — I think berries against cheesecake is aces — but then I went to the Greenmarket where berry season is in full swing so and everything was so pretty, I couldn’t possibly bring myself to cook them and piled them on instead. But this recipe is flexible and I think you could easily tweak it in a number of ways:
• Skipping the sour cream topping and adding a slick of whipped cream instead, although I would do this closer to serving and eating it.
• Marbling it with a raspberry or other sauce, as we did here.
• Topping it with a chocolate glaze, as we did here, or starting the bars with a chocolate base, as we did here.
• Adding the finely grated citrus zest of any kind that you like by rubbing it into the sugar before adding it to the cake.
• Marbling the top with dulce de leche before baking it.
• Using a more traditional cooked fruit topping, as we did here.
* rather the loveliest name, says someone heading to Barcelona next week, albeit with a heavier heart than anticipated
Cheesecake Bars with All The Berries
Crumb crusts are one of my least favorite things to write recipes for; each type of graham and cookie seems to crumble differently and pack differently into cups (you can literally press and press them in, compacting them further, although I do more of spoon-and-sweep), and different cookies (even between brands) require different amounts of butter to get the mixture dampened but not greasy. This is the formula that worked for me; if your crumbs aren’t coming together, add a little more butter. If they seem excessively buttery (but they shouldn’t), add more crumbs.
- 2 cups (220 grams) graham or digestive cracker crumbs
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons (85 grams) salted or unsalted butter, melted, browned if you wish
- A pinch or two of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
- 1 1/2 pounds (3 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
- 2 cups (455 grams) sour cream
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla
- 3 to 4 cups mixed berries, dry
Make crust: Combine crumbs, sugar, butter, salt and vanilla in a bowl with a fork until evenly mixed. Press firmly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
Make cheesecake: While crust is baking, beat cream cheese until fluffy with sugar, then beat in eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly mixed, scraping down the sides and bottom of your bowl between each addition. Beat in vanilla. Pour over prepared crust (still hot is fine) and bake for 25 minutes, until puffed but still jiggly like Jell-O when shimmied. Let cool on rack for 5 minutes, and while it does…
Make topping: Whisk together sour cream, sugar, and vanilla. Drop spoonfuls of topping all over bars and spread gently in one thin layer. Bake bars with topping for 10 minutes.
Set pan on a cooling rack and let cool; refrigerate at least 2 hours or ideally overnight.
To serve: Use foil sling to carefully lift bars out of pan and transfer them to a cutting board. If you can, carefully slide them off their foil — this should be doable, but I did manage to crack my whole slab of bars while doing so, so proceed at your own risk. Scatter berries all over cake. Cut gently into 2×2-ish-inch squares with a serrated knife. Keep leftovers in fridge. Repeat again next weekend.
253 comments on cheesecake bars with all the berries
Holy Cow! I think I am the first comment on this recipe! I feel like I just won the lottery :) Of course, I haven’t had time to make this cheesecake yet, but I have made a few others- including the key lime! Lots of love to you Deb at the Smitten Kitchen! That peanut butter chocolate cake that you made your husband for his birthday was one of my first “real” bakes after moving out on my own. It made me feel like I might be able to get a hold of this whole cooking thing and I have been doing it ever since! Keep it up!!
I had just looked at you raspberry swirl recipe to make for tomorrow but now I think I’ll make this with the swirl! Would you leave the sour cream topping out then?
Yeah, I’d just do the swirl. You might, without the sour cream, prefer to bake it in a water bath to prevent cracks. Just put the pan in a bigger one, fill the bigger pan with an inch or so of boiling water.
Thanks! I’ll try it tonight and see how it goes
Deb you rock. I love that you found a way to simplify things with the 9×13 pan!!!
My Ma sometimes makes cookies that way if she doesn’t have time to roll em out- this makes me think of that.
Deb, I love you and your penchant for sheet-pan-icizing everything you can get your hands on. Like you, I don’t dislike cheesecake, but have also found there to be just TOO MUCH of the cream cheese and not enough of anything else.
This solves it. Much thanks, for about the billionth time.
I’m not sure this wasn’t intentional but I love it “oven monotonous”. I feel exactly the same way about cheesecake.
I think I will leave it.
I just had breakfast and now I’m ready for dessert!
I have never understood the sour cream topping on cheesecake. Is it to hide cracks?
The sheet cake idea is brilliant because my springform pan does indeed leak badly. Maybe it’s because the “digestive” biscuits I get in France absorb the butter less than graham crackers do. In any case, a very smoky mess resulted.
Hide cracks and also taste; I find them complementary. I have the leakiest springform and I realized it’s probably (just maybe) because I’ve dropped it so many times over the years. I bet that’s all it took, the ring being even half a mm warped would be all it takes.
My springform leaks through a gap that is so inconspicuous that I can’t see it even when I hold it up to the daylight. I’ve gotten in to the habit of sitting it on a sheet of tinfoil and wrapping the excess up the outside of the pan. It keeps the drips from making a big nasty mess on the oven floor.
Yes, I do the foil, too. It’s just so depressing to lose the butter, though!
Regarding problems with springform pans, try doing as I do. Top the base of a 9″ or 10″ pan with a 12″ parchment round before assembly. Not only does it tighten the seal, it gives you something to help slide the cheesecake off the base when finished. Second, put a roasting pan of hot water on the bottom rack of your oven when you start preheating and leave it in. Works well in lieu of waterbath.
The parchment is a great idea. Thank you :)
i do the same but with nonstick foil, then fold the edges that stick out up around the outside of the pan: double protection, and peels right off (flip cooled cheesecake upside down briefly. Never done the sour cream topping, so I don’t know if flipping will mess that up though. All others I’ve done have been fine.
This looks like a lovely, less-sweet version of the old Betty Crocker standby…I’ve been cutting down sugar from that recipe for years and just adore it. I’m excited to make it into bars – I love a good crust so I frequently would double the crust and divide it between 3 pie plates. This looks like a good compromise between all the things I love and despise about making cheesecake! Thank you!
Thank you for the Santa Fe memory! I live in Santa Fe and I love the “back in the day” stories. This town has changed so much in the last few years, but it is still beautiful and “the city different”. I have this weekend off from work and I think this recipe with all the late summer fruit might just be the perfect thing.
I grew up in Santa Fe, and anyone who visits, please do check out Geronimo! Amazing food. I think you’ll love it. Then go to El Farol afterwards for drinks, and maybe you’ll see the flamenco dancers!
I have made this cake a few times and everyone loved it!
Can I swap the cream cheese for mascarpone, which I currently have at hand?
Mmmm this looks amazing! I am also revelling in the berry season so I keep coming home with way more than necessary from the market. Do you think this would half well in a 8×8?
I am literally years late to this comment, but I made this today, halved the recipe, and it did wonderfully in my 8×8 pan :)
I want to halve it too, so thank you for letting us know the pan is 8×8.
Deb! These are fab!
I halved the recipe for an 8×8. Used GF Shär graham crackers in the crust, skipped the sour cream top and cooked it in a water bath for 30 min. Made a blueberry lime compote for the top too.
This is exactly why I read through all the wonderful helpful comments before making one of Deb’s recipes. I wanted to half it as well and now I know I can!
Looks delicious. Serving at a party where kids who do not like sour/tangy tastes (as some cheesecakes are) will be. Thoughts on if I should up the sugar in the cream cheese base, the sour cream topping, both or do whipped cream? As a mom I was curious what your kids thought about sweetness/tartness level? Thanks!
My kids loved it as is. I mean, I think they’re great and all, but I’m not sure how discerning their palates are. They probably would also eat it if it were more sweet. I think you could go up to 1 1/3 cup, even 1 1/2 cup (what I saw in other recipes) but I just don’t think it’s necessary. The cheesecake is sweet. It’s just that the sugar doesn’t hit you first.
Thanks so much!
These were a huge hit! I replaced some of the graham crackers with 6 Biscoff cookies which added a bit of flavor to the crust without being too sweet.
Did not mean to post my comment as a reply lol
I just loved the Santa Fe memories from back in the day! I live in Santa Fe and it truly is the “city different”. I will ask a friend if she remembers this cafe; she’s lived here for over 30 years; she’s a Manhattan transplant. Small world! I’m not working this weekend and I think this recipe might just be perfect covered in late summer fruit – which is all on sale! I read you postings every day. You do such a good job. And you’ve given me ideas for my own high altitude baking blog.
What a yum recipe it is……loved it :)
Sounds delish! Do you think if this recipe were doubled it would fit a sheet pan? Thanks :)
Yes… a half-sheet but I’m a little worried about the height. They’re all of 1″ tall so it *should* be fine but just keep an eye on it for overflow.
Restaurant supply store sometimes carry extenders that raise the height of the sides to accommodate this situation.
This looks amazing! Though making cheesecake with cream cheese sounds very weird to a German like me. We use only Quark, which is technically a cheese but is used more like a more sour, less fluids version of yoghurt. It also has a lot less fat (less than 10%) but a lot of flavour. Cheesecakes made with quark are a lot lighter and (my humble opinion) taste better, too. Maybe they could make you love regular proportional cheesecake? I’m still gonna try out your version :)
I second that! Quark (or fromage blanc) makes lighter, tastier cheesecake. It is what we use in Isreal as well. When we lived in the US it was not easy to find in a grocery store, but totally worth the effort.
Have fun in Barcelona and be safe, you’re very important to us.
What pan would you suggest if I halved the recipe?
Do you think I can turn this into a key lime cheesecake by adding key lime juice, or will I need to tweak measurements?
I’d use this recipe instead, a favorite.
Those who find New York-style cream cheese-based cheesecake too heavy might try making Italian cheesecake with fresh (not packaged) ricotta. It’s much lighter.
Or try a Hungarian style cheesecake, made with cottage cheese.
But not as creamy…
Still learning how to bake and I wonder about the foil sling. Do you press it firmly into place or just loosely or does it even matter?
Press firmly and carefully. Push down into the corners gently, using fingertips (not fingernails).
I vote for lifting a lot of slack into the pan so it doesn’t tear as you press it into the corners.
Turn the pan upside down. Then shape the foil over the bottom. Remove the foil and turn pan over. Foil will fit in nicely with minimum poking in the corners.
Have you tried the cheesecake at kiki’s? The crust/custard ratio is perrrrfect!
These look delicious and very pretty!
I have never been! I want to go right now basically.
Thinking about making this for a party this weekend but wanting to make it in advance. How long will this keep in the fridge? Can it be kept in the freezer and thawed for before serving? Thanks!!
Not sure how many days you have in mind but this is definitely good for five. But I’d put on the berries closer to when you want to serve it. They’ll look good for a couple days but maybe not five.
Why have I never thought to use digestive cookies as my cheesecake crust?? Thank you for this, because it’s about to revolutionize my cheesecake game. Favorite cookie meets favorite dessert.
I literally came to the site today to find a cheesecake recipe, I’ve been craving one, and here it is! In the oven now.
The September Food and Wine was waiting for me when we got home today. Spain!, the cover shouted. Perhaps there will be some gems for you. We went before the girls were born. Barcelona is marvelous and full of delicious things to eat and beautiful things to see. Bummed about the timing though: Lilli and I are catsitting in Brooklyn the last week of August. Another time. Safe travels.
Ha! I’ve been double the crust for your cheesecakes for quite some time and baking them in a 9 x 13 pan (the peanut butter chocolate one is a perennial hit). We love them. I can hardly wait to try this one, since I usually use the New York cheesecake which includes flower and these days I bake for so many people who can’t eat gluten. I look forward to trying it with the gluten-free gingersnaps from Trader Joe’s. They’re also great as a key lime pie crust.
Thanks for the Trader Joe’s tip about gluten free gingersnaps! I am doing gluten free and was thinking about trying this recipe sometime (after losing the appropriate amt. of weight first!) with a nut crust. But gingersnaps would be great, too!
This sounds divine. Do you think it would freeze or would it be risky? Thanks.
I haven’t frozen cheesecake but I know people buy frozen cheesecake so I suspect it’s something that freezes well. Without the berries, though, their texture won’t be the same once defrosted.
Would it make it easier to slide the cheesecake out if you lined the foil with parchment paper?
It’s not necessary because it doesn’t stick to the foil. It’s not hard to remove, I just wanted to warn that I did manage to crack mine fully in half — right through the crust too — when I lift it slightly from one side to remove the foil.
Can you use parchment paper instead of foil?
You can. But sticking shouldn’t be an issue regardless.
I’ve got a family BBQ this weekend where I’m in charge of the sweets and this recipe is coming with me! Thanks!
Looks terrific. Can this be made in advance and frozen, fruit to be added just before serving?
Having just returned from Barcelona, I’m also heavy hearted. Be vigilant and travel safely (ugh the airport strike continues), but enjoy the vibrancy and the people, they need us now! Had the loveliest, cheapest, jet laggiest breakfast with kids at Forn Mistral with fresh squeezed orange juice, pastries galore and wonderful coffee for next to no euros (we are also New Yorkers) — wishing you the same. Also, all the churros. Viva España.
I made this the day you posted the recipe and was blown away by how easy and fool-proof it was! This is a keeper. Please include it in cookbook #3 ;)
The “Three Cities of Spain” Cheesecake has also been my go-to recipe since it was published in 1999. I’ve made it so many times over the years that I have it committed to memory, but I still pull out the original batter-stained, frayed-edged recipe when I go to make it. Every time I touch that clipping I get an anticipatory, visceral thrill, like seeing an old friend that I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing in a while. I have always added lemon or tangerine zest to the recipe – that’s the only change I make, but never before have I thought of making this as a bar recipe! I am thrilled that you’ve created this ratio and I can’t wait to try it this way, along with this jewel-like berry topping! It’s an absolute celebration of summer! Thank you Deb!!
This looks delicious! I am thinking of making it tonight for a party tomorrow. I have lots of frozen berries on hand already – do you think that would work? Or do the fresh berries really add to the flavor?
For frozen berries, I might make instead a sauce like I did here. Or marble some here as we did here.
Thank you! I think I’m going to do the sauce option :) I’ll probably refrigerate it first so it doesn’t sink too much into the sour cream layer. I will report back!
I went to Barcelona recently, and I came away with two things I loved: a quiet, safe beach (I was travelling alone), San Pol de Mar, which is one hour by train from the city, and Eldiset, where things on bread are an art…with wine!
oven monotonous — wth does that mean?
It’s a typo, should say “overly” monotonous.
I have an old recipe that uses less cream cheese and some cottage cheese. It seems lighter. But I like the idea of bars.
THIS LOOKS SO DELICIOUS!!
This sounds perfect fir a luncheon I’m attending….what us the approximate yield? By the way, you have never let me down… Love your site
You can make 24 2-inch squares.
When I make cheesecake I usually make it with sour cream mixed in. Is there a reason that I missed as to why you layer it on top instead? Intrigued and cannot wait to make these. I make cheesecake all the time, though laborious, I do enjoy making it for others. These bars are exactly what I needed, when it’s a massive group to share with. Light bulb moment for sure.
Some recipes have sour cream inside, some don’t. This just doesn’t. But I’ve always like it on top as a creamy tart finish.
This looks amazing. Berry and citrus cheesecakes are my go-to flavored cheesecakes because they help to cut through the creamy richness of the cheesecake. I think I would add less berries if I made this because it could be a little too juicy. :)
I’ve been making this for years – since it first appeared in Gourmet magazine forever ago. I substitute gingersnaps for the graham crackers. So good! Love, love, love all your recipes!
This looks fantastic. I’ve always tried this with some cherry sauce on top, but the cherries and the strawberries together along with all the other berries seems fantastic.
Do you ever sell what you bake for profit and/or charity? Good post ad it looked good.
Thanks, but not really. Bake sales at school, but we don’t have that many.
Looks delicious. Should you only put fruit on the pieces you plan to serve? I am worried that the berries will run and stain leftover cake.
This is the most delicious cheesecake. Made it with macerated mixed berries on top. Was a huge hit. Very easy to make. Only substitution was to use animal crackers for the crust. Oh, this was so good!!
Yay! This Gourmet recipe has been my favorite since originally published and I cannot wait to try your riff on it.
Tried these today and they were wonderful–thanks for the recipe!
How many days in advance do you think I could make this?
Ours are almost a week old, and just like new.
I loved NY-style cheesecake as a teen but with age, I wanted something lighter. Once, when I had a stray cup of frozen pumpkin puree, I made a cheese cake with the pumpkin, one 8-ounce package of cream cheese, a cup of yogurt (or maybe half a cup) and 3 or 4 eggs.
I know I mixed by hand and that I used a little molasses. Possibly, some lemon. The crust was graham cracker crumb. It was light and pumpkiny. There was still a cheesecake flavor but without the cloying.
And if didn’t have to bake for three hours or however long a cheesecake usually bakes.
have you tried the “German” version of cheese cake? no cream cheese, but based on curd / fromage blanc (Quark)? I think it’s ten times as tasty, not as heavy and easier to bake than the cream cheese version (no cracks, so no water baths). If you’re interested, I can send you my granny’s recipe. Love your site! Best, Lara
Hi Lara – can you please share this recipe for the rest of us? Thank you!
Made it for a small lunch gathering (3 adults, 3 children) and it took 1 hour from opening biscuits to cooling on rack. It was so straightforward! I used strawberries and blueberries on top to decorate, and we all enjoyed it (even the non-sweet eaters).
Then enough left over to cut up into bite size pieces and take to an afternoon gathering, of about 8-10 people, where it was a hit. (And there was another piece left over, which I just ate, as a reward for such a busy weekend!)
It’s looking very yummy and so colourful recipe, thanks for sharing this delicious recipe; I will try this today.
When I was growing up, the only cheesecake we had was Sara Lee’s – which was topped with sour cream. I never liked it. I prefer homemade & with fruit on top. Thanks for sharing this recipe.
Perfect timing! I made these for work to celebrate the lunar eclipse! (Because the moon is made of cheese you know.) everyone loved them. They did take an extra 25 min in my oven though.
I made these this weekend, and they were a HUGE hit–everyone loved the bars, and they looked so beautiful! This will be another ‘go to’ recipe, along with the blueberry crumb cake, for big gatherings!
This recipe looks amazing! I love all of your baked goods recipes and generally make smaller or individualized versions. Do you think it would be possible to make a version of this in a muffin tin?
I don’t see why not at all. Only thing trick is removing them if you aren’t using muffin cup liners.
I can say from experience paper muffin liners work very well with individual cheesecakes.
I made this cheesecake the day I saw this in my feed. Everyone exclaimed that it was the best cheesecake they ever had! Honestly I’m scared at how easy it was to pull together; I might be making it once a week for a while. ;)
Oh my! The first thing I thought of was “family reunion” which is generally held around the 4th of July time. What a perfect dessert for that! Now Deb, I just have to put it where I won’t forget it for next year. Ha ha. I just love that you not only give us the recipe, but show the other options to do with the cheesecake. Awesome!! Thank you!
See this is how I know I can trust your taste because the 3 cities of Spain is MY go-to cheesecake recipe, too! You are right, it’s SO adaptable.
Love the gorgeous array of berries (currants? Yes please).
Hi Deb – This looks both beautiful and delicious. Perhaps this is an obvious question, but is this something that is safe to take to an outdoor bbq? There won’t be any option for indoor storage during the party, so my fear is that this would not be cute after an hour under a tent. Thanks for any advice or guidance!
I mean, I’m not a food safety expert but my gut feeling is that as long as it’s not in a stream of hot sunglight for a couple hours, it’s fine. Once the chill is fully off of it/it’s warmed up is when I’d start paying attention. You probably don’t want it warm for more than an hour after the chill is off of it.
This is definitely not going to help you 4.5 months in the past, lol, but for future reference… Whenever I take a cold dish to an event, I bring along already-frozen reusable ice packs to put underneath the pan. It’s obviously not as good as a refrigerator or cooler, but it helps.
Oh good heavens. I have been poking around the internet looking for a cheesecake recipe that can be cut up into bites to serve with my too-soft blueberry rhubarb jam and then made my way here. And voila!
Why do I even go elsewhere? You’ve always got what turns out to be my favorite recipe right here at my fingertips. Thanks again, lady!
And safe travels to you and yours.
there are still strawberries in new york? i haven’t been to the Greenmarket in a while but certainly i haven’t seen any for several weeks in the other markets i frequent…. how were they?
Because no one has ever accused me of being sane or nice (culinarily speaking), I ground up a package of biscoff cookies for the base then topped the cheesecake with the ganache recipe for Creole Brownies from the Back in the Day Bakery cookbook. I didn’t have quite enough sour cream for the full quantity but put in what I had.
I may never need another dessert recipe.
Was just bemoaning how I didn’t have an occasion with enough people around for your nectarine gingersnap tart, but then this recipe showed up as I was looking for something for a potluck. Think I’m going to marry the flavour profile of the gingersnap tart with the portability of this cheesecake by doing a gingersnap crust and nectarines on top instead of berries…
Oh Canyon Road!!!!! And your right expensive as H. but it is amazing to see. Lunch at the Geronimo is amazing and hard to get get a Sunday Brunch Rsv. They should be serving this Cheesecake! Yum!
Beautiful recipe. Do you think crème fraiche could be substituted for sour cream as a topping? Sour cream is not available where I live, and I realize they are not exactly the same. . .
I made this for a family gathering, it was wonderful. The fresh fruit makes it look so pretty. I found it best when very cold out of the fridge.
I served it straight out of the pan, so did not line with foil. I put some parchment on the bottom, but I don’t think that it is necessary and only got in the way of serving. There is enough butter in the crust. The only time I would use a liner is if I was going to lift the whole thing out of the pan, but we are fairly casual so really no need.
Made this last weekend, and it was a big hit! Everyone loved it! Couldn’t get tiny strawberries, so just sliced up bigger ones, and it looked pretty and tasted great.
Loved this!!! Made it for a BBQ and it was the hit of the party! Would absolutely make again for a crowd. Made exactly as written.
What brand of digestive crackers did you use? In case you answered this before, my apologies but I could not find the answer to my question in the comments.
Thank you so much for your time.
I don’t remember at all but it was one of the big, readily available ones? Maybe McVitie’s…
Thank you so much for including the UK measurements for your recipes! x
Thank you for yet another go-to, stellar recipe! Made this for brunch with friends (including kids) and it was a huge hit. Even used 1/3-less fat cream cheese and it was still decadent. Only had blueberries and raspberries on hand (wish I could find those gorgeous currants!) and people were licking the crumbs off the foil.
I have been making the Gourmet version for years and my husband loves it. I am excited to try this one.
i made these last week as written, but portioned them into 24 cupcakes plus two 6 inch tart pans. (about 20-25 minutes total baking time.) i took them to work as birthday cupcakes and they were gone by the end of the day. (let’s also keep in mind there were only 6 people at work that day.) today i made them again but as a chocolate version, with chocolate teddy grahams and a little less sugar for the crust (i did need an extra tablespoon of butter this time) and 7 oz 70% chocolate melted and mixed into the batter. i skipped the sour cream topping (though i really love it) and made a chocolate whipped cream instead, finishing with chocolate sprinkles and some of the leftover teddy grahams. this is a delicious recipe and took really well to the adaptations i made.
This looks delicious. Instead of using sour cream for the topping do you think Greek yogurt could be used instead?
I’m more nervous about yogurt curdling or getting an odd texture in the oven, so I cannot say for sure. It would *probably* be fine but I haven’t tried it.
I made this and got rave reviews, but I have a question about the sour cream topping stage. Is it supposed to set in those 10 minutes of baking time? Or how do you know when that part is done?
Not set but the baking helps it adhere once it has cooled.
I made this exactly as written and it is goooood. It makes a lot so I cut it into small squares and sent half with my husband to a work BBQ and took half to my work. I made it exactly as written. For the fruit topping, I followed the link to the cheesecake with a cooked cherry topping, and I followed the instructions using strawberries. I put that on top of the sour cream topping and I liked having both the sour cream and cooked fruit layers. This is going in my repertoire because its an easy, impressive, and portable dessert. 5 stars.
I had the idea to top the cheesecake layer with lemon bar filling (the thinner layer amount from the recipe on this site) before baking. Is this madness? The baking time and temp look close enough for it to work, but I’m not sure if putting something on top of the cheesecake layer would mess it up.
What if you just marbled in a lemon curd, or smoothed one over after the cheesecake had cooled and set? Lemon bars are basically rustic lemon curds. (Not sure how the other idea would work, it might be fine, but this I’d feel more confident in.)
I do cheesecake with lemoncurd swirl and ginger often. My hint would be to reserve a bit of cheesecake batter to pour over top of swirled batter. It helps prevent big cracks around the curd when it cools. Still tasty if you don’t though!
Hi! Made this cheesecake today. It came out great, super texture and flavour, not too sweet, not too sour and not at all dry. I did bake the fruits with the top layer in the oven (since I used frozen fruits I reckoned they wouldn’t taste as good as fresh ones) and that came out great as well, it just needed a few extra minutes in the oven. Also, I’m a cookie crust lover so I’ll probably increase amount of cookie crust next time. Thanks for the great recipe!
These are really, really good! So easy, too. I made these for a dinner party, and everyone thought I had slaved over them all day. Thanks for a great recipe!
I recently made this for a family gathering and it was an immediate hit. I have had repeated requests to bring this to all future parties. The big surprise was that many of these requests came from people who don’t usually like cheesecake.
I made this today, with only one change (a late addition of lemon zest to the sour cream topping). It. Is. Perfect. This is now one of my top 3 Smitten Kitchen easy dessert recipes (with the one-bowl brownies and the yellow cake recipe).
I love this recipe. I’ve only ever halved it and it comes out perfectly in an 8×8 pan. I’ve used fresh berries, frozen berries — all great. It seems so much easier than making a full cheesecake in my springform pan and yet delivers the same taste and texture. Love. Never lasts more than 24 hours in my house of 2 + a little.
How do you adjust baking time when halving the recipe?
If wanting to add a raspberry swirl, do I add it to the middle or the top layer?
I previously made this as written, and it was delicious!! <3
Made this for my husband’s birthday except for with chocolate glaze from the dulce de leche recipe instead of berries because berries didn’t look as fresh in our stores this week. I never crave cheesecake, but it’s my husband’s favorite dessert. We both LOVED it. So did our 1.5 year old. I added more crust (maybe 1/3 cup extra of graham cracker w/ 2T extra butter? It was eyeballed…). My favorite layer by far is the sour cream layer. Easiest cheesecake I’ve ever made and tastes just as good if not better! And with it being a cheesecake bar you don’t have to have an entire cake-sized piece of cheesecake – it’s perfect.
The food that I looked at was looking delicious for me to eat and to put in my belly that is how good it looks
I made this yesterday, but with lemon zest in the batter and without the berries. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the episode of Friends where Rachel and Chandler are obsessed with a cheesecake that was mis-delivered to their apartment but I’m pretty sure in whatever reality that story happened, this was the cheesecake they ate. This is the cheesecake to rule all cheesecakes.
I’m going to be using this as a base for a chai-cheesecake bar, topped with pistachios and pomegranate seeds, for the holidays. I’m thinking of adding honey to the sour-cream layer for a neat list twist. Or, would you suggest I just skip the sour-cream layer all together and just marble honey on top?
Thank you for sharing that lovely food recipe. This is one of my favorite dish. If you love these kind of dishes then you may visit my website: https://www.tomatocafe.com which is full of sweet dishes also.
Hi there! If I halve in 8×8 do i change the baking times? Thanks!
For this, it will barely be less, but you can begin checking in 5 minutes sooner to be safe.
Do you suppose I could double this and bake it in a half sheetpan?
A pregnant friend remembers this fondly from my having made it and wants it again, but has developed an egg allergy. Has anyone made cheesecake using an egg substitute (such as Bob’s Redmill)? I may just have to make a test version to see if it works.
Okay I made this yesterday for my husband’s birthday today. I made a little extra crust because we subscribe to the “there’s no such thing as too much crust” theory. Because I still had plenty once I had filled my 9×13, I made a mini cheesecake in a 4″ pie dish and we ate that last night. Let me tell you- it was so creamy, light, fluffy- the perfect texture, and with no fuss of the water bath or anything!
I’ll never mess with the springform pan again, and I can’t wait to serve the big pan topped with some fresh macerated peaches tonight!
I made this for my class and it was a smash hit! I used chocolate sandwich cookies for the crust and just a whipped topping instead of the sour cream. Then super loaded with berries… it was amazing!
Just made these for an office party and people were totally obsessed with them! They came together quickly, though I will admit that I was cursing my current lack of an electric whisk at the moment because my arm got a real workout. I also had to keep them in the oven for a few extra minutes before they puffed up appropriately. Will absolutely make again though! And loved that they were red, white, and blue for the 4th of July!
Can I halve the recipe and do in 8×8 pan? Any baking time change suggestions?
I haven’t time-tested it in an 8×8 (usually it’s only about 5 to 10 minutes less than a larger size, better to check sooner) but it should otherwise work fine.
Could I top with the berries and just cut it in the pan? I’m fine with the first piece or two being messy. Just scared of lifting the whole thing out, and it would be easier to serve al fresco with it still in the pan.
Absolutely. But I found it relatively easy to lift because the crust is thick and the cheesecake isn’t too thick.
Would it work to use light cream cheese?
I think I would swirl with lemon curd and put the sour cream and berries on top.
I’m definitely making this for the 4th! Do you think I need to adjust temp or baking time if I use a ceramic or glass dish (with parchment)? I don’t have metal in that size. Thanks in advance!
It can help to bake it at 25 degrees less.
I am thinking of using the brownies from your brownie ice cream sandwiches as the base for this cheesecake. 1/2 recipe of each. The brownies cook for 12-15 minutes at 350 and this cheesecake cooks for 25 minutes at 325. Do you think that I can pour the prepared cheesecake batter directly over the prepared brownie batter and cook them both together at 325 for 25 minutes? P.S. Your site and cookbooks are amazing. Thank you!
I am also trying this, with a chocolate base! I was going to try a chocolate cookie-crumb base (maybe this: https://smittenkitchen.com/2014/02/chocolate-peanut-butter-cheesecake/ or this: https://smittenkitchen.com/2006/08/no-teddy-bear-guts-no-glory/)
an update: I could NOT locate the chocolate wafer cookies, but I did get chocolate graham crackers and made the base with those. It was delicious!
Hmm… I wonder if you could cook the brownies maybe part of the way, enough that the cheesecake batter won’t mingle too much (5? 10? minutes) and then add the cheesecake batter and bake it the rest of the way.
Beautiful pictures! I followed recipe as written but slightly concerned that the cake still seems jiggly even after adding sour cream layer. (Kind of smushed a little with the spreading). Is it done? Will this all work itself out with the cool down? I’m not worried about it cracking more worried about it being easier to spoon :/
It was delicious. A little soft in the middle but sliceable. I think it needed to cook longer in my oven. Will definitely make again.
Beautiful recipe! I do have a question about it setting though. I made it yesterday for a cookout today. I followed the recipe to a T, even adding a minute or two to be sure about being cooked through. It looked fine but when I cut it (after cooling overnight), it was a mess…so soft and just smooshed and ran when I cut it. Your pictures look far more set than mine does. I’m worried about it being safe to eat. I’d like to try it again because the flavor is good, but how can I be assured that it won’t be such a mess in the future?
i’m curious about the setting too. mine looks mushy and jiggly.
I had the same problem! Baked it yesterday and when I cut it today it was a big (delicious) mess. Next time I’ll bake it longer so it’s firmer than jello. I also used gluten free graham crackers but that wouldn’t affect the cake part.
This is our weekend go to for my grandson’s July 3rd birthday. Cannot wait to try it, looks delicious.
I made this on the 3rd for a July 4th BBQ. It turned out perfectly and people were asking for seconds and thirds. The squares were much easier to eat with a fork than out of hand.
Can you just cut the bars out of the pan and serve that way rather than creating the sling and moving them?
was delish! i made the mistake of not waiting for it to cool a little before i added the sour cream layer so it became a little messy and had to bake a lot longer than was listed in the recipe but the flavor was on point! thanks again for another great one!!
made this for the 4th. it was gone yesterday. so good and really easy to make. i didn’t bake it long enough on the initial bake of the cheesecake, so the center of it wasn’t cutting into clean squares when i went to serve it. but it was still delicious!
Really looking forward to making this.
Would anything change if I am using a glass pan?
Any way I could incorporate Oreos into this recipe? Specifically mixing them into the filling, not an Oreo crust situation. Thank you :)
I’m sure you could crumble some in without a lot of harm.
Totally pleased with how easy this was to assemble. It’s still in the oven and I’ve just realized I forgot to line the pan. Now what a wreck I”m going to have; and here I was taking it as contribution to our neighbourhood party tomorrow afternoon :( Was so excited because I swapped out the berry idea for key lime and I”m imagining it was going to be quite a sweet looking slice!
Any suggestions as to how this might be saved so I don’t have to go out in the morning to purchase all these ingredients again? Anyone?
As usual I got a little dramatic before I needed to. LOL. I’ll either serve directly from pan and the first few might be messy or I”ll platter them up and eat the first few that I pull out of the pan.
This has become our go-to “can you bring dessert” recipe. It is PERFECT. To be honest I never both with the sour cream topping, we just top with berries. I also cut it into wee little squares for get togethers and there seems to be great satisfaction in eating many, many little cubes of delicious cheesecakes. I have also been know to halve the recipe and bake a mini version in a loaf tin!
My first ever try baking a cheesecake which is my hubby’s favorite and his work mates loved it and said it’s one of the best things he’s brought in to work. The next recipe I’m trying out from your website will be the apple sharlotka. Can’t wait! Your recipes are super amazing!
I am perhaps hallucinating, but I swear I saw you mention somewhere (maybe on Instagram?) making these bars for the holidays with a gingersnap crust and a cranberry topping… if I haven’t completely invented this, are there guidelines for the cranberry topping anywhere?
You are not hallucinating. However, what I did on Thanksgiving was take my existing Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake and bake it as bars, in this style. The instructions have been added to that recipe. (It’s so good.)
I made this for our Christmas dessert. I love cheese cake but dislike the added uncertainty of a springform pan failure. It’s a win-win. I baked it little longer this time than last, less jiggly is better for slicing
I have made this recipe many times for family gatherings, it is perfect! Always gone in minutes! Easy to put together and feeds a crowd, thank you so much for this recipe!
One question- if I skip the topping and do a swirl instead, do the bars still need the extra 10 minutes of baking time?
Good question — I don’t think so.
OK. SO. I am late to this recipe, but I made this last night without the berries since it is April and there are no in-season berries where I live. I added a few teaspoons of elderflower-lemon cordial to both the cheesecake batter and the sour cream in lieu of a little bit of the sugar, and OH MY GOSH. DO IT. It is unbelievable.
Love cheesecake but lactose intolerant. Think I could substitute lactose-free cream cheese and sour cream?
Green Valley makes delicious LF dairy products and yogurts.
Just wanted to warn everyone that if you make these with an Oreo crust and more chopped Oreos folded in, everyone you serve it to will become your adoring fan. People go insane for them, and it is the easiest cheesecake recipe I’ve ever made.
Absolutely delicious – will make again! I was excited about this recipe since it is made the way my mother always makes it, with the sour cream topping. I made it in a 9″ springform with an extra thick crust (that included some chopped toasted coconut) and had to cook it 15-20 minutes longer to get it to set in the middle. I went with the zest suggestion for that perfect hint of lemon, the flavor of this cheese cake is incredible and the texture perfect.
Deb, this is an amazing recipe! I thought all cheesecakes were difficult and had to be cooked in water baths . This was expensive (because of the berries and cream cheese) but really easy to make and so delicious and impressive and beautiful. My sour cream layer ended up being a little thinner in certain spots than I would have liked and I might increase it next time but I think this is because the cheesecake puffed up unevenly after baking. Thanks Deb, will definitely make this again!
This was delicious!! Colorful with the berries, very creamy and the crust was yum!! Thanks for another great recipe : )
I made four pans of these for my son’s rehearsal dinner and they were FABULOUS!! So many compliments! Made a berry sauce with frozen mixed berries following the linked recipe for the traditional cooked fruit topping. And I found the answers to a few questions along the way!
– Made one one the four with a gluten free crust using gluten free graham crackers. Perfection!
– We also froze one (did a practice run a week in advance!) and it thawed beautifully!
– Didn’t bother trying to slide it off the foil once we removed it from the pan. Just flattened out the foil and sliced. A square edged spatula or dessert server worked great to get them to the plates.
There could not have been a better choice for our dinner! Many thanks for a great recipe! 💗
This crust is now my go-to.
This cheesecake is easy and no nonsense.
The topping I left out because I didn’t have sour cream. Served with a side of whipped cream instead. And berries. Everyone (5 adults and 4 kids) all raved.
Made this recipe for my dad’s birthday. It’s very good, not too heavy (the crust was a tad too sweet, I used honey graham crackers so next time I’ll skip the sugar). I cut it in 16 pieces. I made a couple changes ; I baked the cheesecake part 40 minutes (15 more minutes than the recipe) at 25min it was not set at all and I left it one hour in the turned off oven after the topping was done.
I also needed 40 min for it to set up. This might be because I used extra large eggs, so it’s a bit more liquid.
Made this, this weekend. I used the King Arthur graham cracker recipe and wow, was it exceptional! Not usually into making recipes more difficult, but this was worth the effort!
This recipe worked wonderfully, thank you. I used an old trick when making the graham cracker crust which worked well and thought someone else might appreciate it. I broke the graham crackers into smaller pieces and put them in a zip-lock gallon bag and used a rolling pin to crush them into crumbs. Then I added the sugar, melted butter, salt, and vanilla to the bag, sealed it again, and combined everything by kneading with my hands. It was very easy to pour the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of the 9 x 13” pan and saved a great deal of cleaning up.
Chiming in to say that halving this fits well in a normal 9 inch pie pan! I baked it for ~30 min at 350F. Topped with a layer of lemon curd and some strawberries! Also I used lemon snap cookies as the crust layer. (Sorry for the “I changed everything” comment, but I’m always looking for info on halving/different pan sizes)
Wow! The best. Perfect in every way. So light. I made it for a cafe and four slices flew out the door on opening this morning. Wish we didn’t have to fiddle with the foil. I used a cake slice to remove but always worry about tearing the foil. Do they make a loose bottom 9×13? Research needed. Thank you for this. The best cheesecake I’ve tasted. And when are red currants in the shops? More research required…
Do you think I could cut the recipe in half and use a 9×9 pan? Thanks!
An 8×8 would be a little better, but yes
Made these on a rainy day last week to satisfy a hearty cheesecake craving. I’m not sure if I did something wrong? The cheese bit came out with a more gooey-cheesy-part-from-a-cheese-danish consistency and flavor (but still tasty) AND I doubled the crust so it’s like 50% crust 50% cheese goo (oh yea). I’ve been eating these for breakfast ever since with a giant dollop of plain greek yogurt, mixed berry compote and toasted walnuts. There’s really no going back from here. Thank you Deb <3
This is both simple and amazing. I made it once a couple of months ago, and honestly I would make it a thousand more times. It’s about to come out of the oven in a few minutes for my second go. With berries in season right now it’s hard to say no to, and it’s so much simpler than conventional cheesecake with all of the appeal. It’s worth at least one try for anyone who is considering it even lightly. Wouldn’t change a thing about this recipe, either!
Have you ever used greek yogurt instead of sour cream?
Hello – I made this recipe a week or so ago and the centre didn’t set. (It was delicious though!) Made exactly as written. Just wondering what I can do to prevent this from happening in the future?
It might just need more baking time.
The outsides were perfect and had even started browning but the middle was runny. Will try again and bake a bit longer. Thanks!
Thanks for the note about crumbs. I was starting to loose my mind. By the way lately your recipes are like you reading my mind. Thank you!
Half recipe fits perfectly in an 8×8, and a pint of berries is exactly right for this amount too.
Probably a stupid question: but can I make this in a 9 inch springform pan?
Yes. Bar thickness or like a classic cheesecake?
Looking for classic cheesecake.
The recipe I talk about adapting it from in an old Gourmet in the first paragraph is here, and it’s for a classic cheesecake size and shape.
Deb do you have any tips for adapting this into a holiday cheesecake? I want to do a gingerbread crust with eggnog flavored filling but I’m not sure how to adjust for the additional liquid. Thanks!
You can bake this in a 9.5-inch springform at 350°F for about 45 minutes — you want it set at the edges but a little wobbly in the center. For an eggnog flavor, I’d be tempted to replace one of the eggs with 2 or 3 yolks, definitely add freshly grated nutmeg, a couple tablespoons of brandy.
thank you so much! can’t wait to try this, love the idea of adding brandy :)
Just made this. It was magical. Thank you.
Sheet pan (cookie sheet?) or 3″ baking dish?
I use a cake pan. Sheet pan might be too shallow.
Is it possible to it everything by half to make a smaller dessert?
Yes, halve everything and bake it in an 8×8-inch pan.
This, paired with brownies, is THE ANSWER for what to bring for our family picnic on the 4th. Excited to try.
Hi Deb : my mother made an outstanding two layer cheesecake much like this but in a springform pan. She used Gerbers teething biscuits for the crust which were less sweet. They no longer exist!!! 😢. Any other thoughts for a similar, not graham cracker, crust?
Try Maria biscuits. Less sweet than graham crackers and texture more similar to the teething biscuits, I think.
Thank you Patryce. I think the old recipe came from right off either the breakstone sour cream or cream cheese package!
Wow! This is the closest recipe I have ever seen to my family’s favorite, which was shared with us by Jewish friends from NYC in about 1974. Ours was a bit smaller, with one pound of cream cheese, three eggs, 2/3 c sugar and almond extract in the main part. One cup sour cream plus a little sugar and vanilla for the topping. We never put a crust under it. Which happens to make it gluten free.
My mom made a similar cheesecake in a springform pan with Gerbers teething biscuits, no longer available.😢. Any close seconds? They were perfect, -not to sweet and an understated complementary flavor.
You should use plain digestives — similar and not too sweet.
I braved it and subbed full fat Greek yogurt for sour cream and it came out beautifully. I also added about 1 Tbsp of lemon zest to the filling, but made no other substitutions. This is a new go to for sure!
So I’m in the south of France at my in-laws place and they tell me they love cheesecake. So of course I look up one of your recipes because they haven’t failed me yet. I’m going to be honest, I was nervous- instead of Philadelphia cream cheese I used st Moret (their version of philly cream cheese). Crème fraîche instead of sour cream, spéculos cookies instead of graham cracker and everything converted to grams, mL and Celsius. What I got was an amazing cake that everyone LOVED. Thank you Deb. As usual your recipes are always THE BEST.
This cheesecake recipe is SO easy and so delicious!! I got endless compliments – looks fancy, takes very little time to make. Will be making this many times in the future!
These are insanely good. They are not overly ‘cheesecakey’, so should really delight everyone. I halved the recipe and I regret it deeply. The only thing I found was that I couldn’t successfully cut through the berries without it starting to look really untidy. Maybe that was because it was slightly underdone? But at any rate I had more success cutting the squares and then spreading the berries on top.
Thank you so much for this recipe! I will be making it every year for sure.
So delicious and creamy! Came out great. I took it out of the pan and cut around the tin foil. Was afraid to take off the tin foil.
Omg!!!!! I made this for 4th of July weekend. Everyone went nuts!! 7 adults devoured the entire thing. 100% positive reviews!!!! Thank you. Always know I’ll walk away with amazing desserts & food with your recipes.
I made this the first time *almost* exactly as written, except using plain unsweetened greek yogurt + some lemon juice in place of sour cream. It worked beautifully.
Second time I made this, I doubled the crust and found that much better for the pan, and also combined the two layers into one. Still excellent and way less work!
These are just perfect. I made them because I had a lot of blackberry jam left over after making Half Baked Harvest’s swirled blackberry sheet cake last weekend. So I made Deb’s cheesecake bars, swirled in some of the jam, skipped the sour cream layer, and once cooled I layered a coat of jam across the top of the bars, and then sprinkled fresh strawberries all over. They are to die for. A friend said “The perfect ratio of graham cracker crust to cheesecake” – they baked up beautifully, exactly as written, and they hold their shape impeccably. I made in a glass 9×13 with no lining and was worried I’d have trouble cutting into them without making a mess, but they came out of the pan flawlessly, no cracks or broken crusts. Will absolutely make again – want to try the sour cream layer next time and ALL the berries. Thanks Deb – you never let me down!
I love this recipe so much and so does my entire family. They prefer it to store bought cheesecake including the factory which shall not be named with the novel-esque menú. Would this recipe work with possibly mini or regular size cupcake tins? I’m trying to figure out a way around cutting into it because no matter what method I try (fishing line, water-dipped knive, etc. you name it I’ve tried it all) the cuts look messy. Thank you for any suggestions and thank you especially for sharing your delicious recipes!
Yes, it would be delicious as mini-cupcakes!
Thank you so much! Our family loves your recipes and looks forward to them anytime we get together. Wishing you and your family a happy holidays!
So easy to make! And yummy!
Any tips on making as cupcakes, as a couple mentioned? It’s Teacher Appreciation week and this is a perfect indulgent treat but cutting is intimidating / and individual wrappers easy for distributing, so cupcakes seem like a good solution.
I love this recipe and has also become my go to. My family loves lemon cheese cake so I modify it by adding lemon juice and lemon zest, and putting a topping of lemon curd after baking.
Hi Deb – do you think I could make this crustless? Actually, I’m hosting a party with some friends who are gluten-free but others are not. I am considering making it half with the crust/ half no crust; one pan. Any thoughts on how this might work out? Baking is not really my forte.
Delicious! Light and fluffy cheesecake! I used vanilla in the crust. I added peaches to the mixed berries! Decorated with fresh mint! Loved by all!
If I were to quarter the recipe and bake it in a 3.75 x 7.75 inch loaf pan or in a muffin tin as mini cheesecakes would you have any suggestions on how to adjust the bake time?
Thank you so much- can’t wait to try this cheesecake!
Vanilla what exactly? Not clear :(
Hi!! Deb, how can I incorporate gorgeous Amerena cherries in syrup in this recipe? Cheesecake has always been intimidating to me, especially the water bath. Can I bake them inside the batter? Baked on top? I don’t want to lose the sour cream topping. Should I spoon the cherries over the sour cream topping? Trader Joe’s has a lovely, seasonal jar of Amerena cherries that rivals the expensive brand. BTW, your Celebration cake/wedding cake with layers of caramel is on the holiday lineup.
Yummy! I made these for a party and they were well loved. I like the versatility of bars over a cake because I was able to leave some plain, put blueberries on some, and melted chocolate on a few. Good variety to appeal yo everyone’s favorites. Recipe was easy to follow and I would make it again.