Orange-Cranberry Cheesecake Bars

So Redbook magazine does a feature each month that is a whole bunch (that’s a technical term) of variations on a basic recipe theme.  Recently, they kicked up the flavors of a basic bar.  Now, I love bars because, almost every Friday, I send a treat into the office with my favorite GI Joe. The flaw in this brilliant plan to win their hearts and minds is….I HATE, LOATHE, and DESPISE making cookies.

Don’t you feel badly for my hooligans?  They rarely come home to warm-from-the-oven cookies as an afterschool snack. But they DO come home to cupcakes, hand pies, and, yes, bar cookies!

I’ve tried all the variations (which means you’ll probably be seeing them sprinkled through my upcoming posts), but this was my very favorite.  I added the orange extract and subbed in Egg Beaters for real eggs…and used my favorite King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour. They are sweet and tangy, creamy and a bit crunchy, and freeze and travel well…perfect for upcoming holiday events!

Orange-Cranberry Cheesecake Bars

Adapted from Redbook magazine (just barely)

Crust:

  • · 1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • · ½ tsp baking powder
  • · ¼ tsp salt
  • · 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • · ½ cup granulated sugar
  • · 1 egg yolk
  • · 1 tsp orange extract

Filling:

  • 2 (8-oz) pkgs lowfat cream cheese, softened
  • · ½ cup granulated sugar
  • · 2 large eggs (or ½ cup egg substitute)
  • · 1/3 cup light sour cream
  • · 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • · ½ tsp orange extract
  • · 1 (8-oz) can jellied cranberry sauce (NOT whole berry)

1. Make crust: Heat oven to 350 degrees and line a 13×9 baking pan with foil. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In medium bowl, beat butter, sugar, egg yolk, and orange extract until creamy. Slowly add in flour, baking powder, and salt, until dough comes together. Drop small mounds of dough evenly into foil-lined pan, then use your fingers to pat the dough into an even layer.

3. Bake 20 minutes, until golden and set. Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 325.

4. To make filling: Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in eggs, sour cream, flour, and orange extract until smooth.

5. Whisk cranberry sauce in a small bowl until smooth. Stir in 3 Tbsp of the filling until blended. Pour the remaining white batter evenly over crust, then drop small spoonfuls of the cranberry mixture evenly over the white. Drag a butter knife or small spatula over the surface until it looks marbled.

6. Bake 35-38 minutes, until surface is set and looks dry. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, or until firm and cold.

7. Lift bars out of pan, using foil as a handle, and set on cutting board. Cut into 36 bars, 6 cuts per side. Enjoy!

Click here for the printable recipe

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