Lemon Curd Brownie Cheesecake Bars
Please note that I can’t make myself responsible for the way you behave around these lemon curd cheesecake brownie bars or how many you eat in any given moment. This disclaimer after I used a super sharp German santoku knife as a spoon to take one bite that almost fell off when I was cutting them. You could think this happened because I’m a total lunatic but in reality it happened because they are irresistibly good. Still, there could be some truth on the first reason when it comes to food.
These lemon cheesecake brownie bars, as the name clearly states, combine my three favorite confections; lemon curd, New York style cheesecake and brownies. All kidding aside, even though the knife story is completely true, these bars have to be one of the best things I have created in my kitchen. And, in my humble opinion, there have been so many good things come out from there. But people around here reacted different to them. They were a nice surprise to everyone that tasted them. And I think it’s because there are so many good things happening at once, but each layer has its own personality.
I just made a mash-up between three recipes: half of the lemon curd from my Lemon Tart with Rosemary Infused Chocolate Crust; half of the cream cheese filling from my Blueberry Basil New York Style Cheesecake and half of my Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Brownies. I just adjusted some of the quantities that could not divide in half and only used chocolate chips for the brownies.
Even if you have to make three recipes, you can have the full recipe assembled in about 1½ hours, mostly baking and chilling time. Once it’s completely done, they will need the typical 8 hours or overnight chill in the fridge. But if you know in advance a particular day when you want to have them, by all means you can make them even two or three days in advance. They truly get better over time. The texture is firmer and the simple flavors shine! This recipe is one that you should run, not walk to make!
1. Since I don't have a square spring form pan (if they even exist) I just cut two long parchment paper pieces and placed them crossing each other. That way I just pulled up to take out the bars. Read the first paragraph of the steps to learn how I put this together.
2. This recipe works perfectly if made in advance, even two or three days before serving it (not that you would want to wait that long!).
Lemon Curd Brownie Cheesecake Bars
Organic free range butter – 6 TBSP
Raw sugar – ¾ cup
Unsweetened cocoa powder – ¼ cup + 2 TBSP
Vanilla extract – ½ Tsp
Fine sea salt – ¼ Tsp
Organic free cage eggs – 1
Unbleached organic all purpose flour – ¼ cup + 2 TBSP
Semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks – ½ cup
Cream cheese, at room temperature – 2 - 8 oz packages
Raw sugar – ¾ cup
Eggs – 2, large
Egg yolks – 1, from large eggs
Unbleached all purpose flour – 2 TBSP
Lemon juice – 1 TBSP, about the juice half a medium lemon
Vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract – ½ Tsp
Lemon Curd Layer
Whole organic eggs – 2
Egg yolks – 2
Raw sugar – ¾ cup
Freshly squeezed lemon juice – ½ cup
Butter, cubed – ½ cup (I stick, 8 TBSP)
About 9 square bars or 16 mini bars
Total time - 1 to 1 1/2 hour plus chilling time Active time - 30 to 40 minutes in intervals.
Equipment - 8 x 8 baking pan, stand or electric handheld mixer, parchment paper, large skillet, large glass bowl
To prepare your 8 x 8 pan: Cut a piece of cold butter and rub the bottom and sides of your pan. Rub the outer sides as well. This will serve as “glue” to keep parchment paper on place.
Cut 2 - 8” x 16” parchment paper pieces (I use this unbleached parchment paper that is already cut in 12” x 16” sheets, so I just had to cut it 8” wide). Place one paper centered into the pan and press through the bottom and sides, inside and out. Rub some butter on the parchment paper area inside the pan and place the other piece of paper across. Again press the paper through the bottom, inside and outside the pan to seal it toward the pan. Spray some baking spray on the bottom and sides of your pan. Place it in the fridge.
To make the brownie layer: Preheat oven to 350°.
Put butter in a large glass bowl and place it on a large skillet filled with some water. Heat it over medium heat until melted. Add the sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves into the butter. You’ll end up with a paste that is smooth and just a bit grainy. Take it out of the skillet and let it cool down.
After the butter mixture has cooled down mix in the cocoa powder. Add the vanilla and salt and stir. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well, waiting until one is incorporated before adding the next one. Add the flour and gently mix just until you can’t see streaks of flour. Add the semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks and mix them in.
Transfer the batter to the pan and press it down with your hands to make it even. Bake for 20 minutes. While the brownies bake, prepare cheesecake filling.
Take the brownies out of the oven and increase oven temperature to 425°.
To make the cheesecake filling: Either in the bowl of a stand up mixer and using the whisk attachment or in medium bowl using an electric hand mixer with the beaters attached, beat together in medium speed the cream cheese for 3 minutes. Add the sugar and mix for 1 minute, making sure there is no sugar on top of the bowl. Decrease speed to low and add the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time. Add flour, lemon juice and vanilla paste, waiting a few seconds before each addition to allow each ingredient to incorporate well. Mix in the vanilla. Scrap the wall of the bowl between additions, if needed. Stop mixing as soon as everything is well incorporated.
Take out from oven the brownie layer and increase oven temperature to 425°. When the oven is ready pour cheesecake mixture over brownie layer. Bring pan to oven and bake for 5 minutes and then drop oven temperature to 275°. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the mixture looks shiny and firm but not dry. If it is still wobbly in the center, bake it for 1 or 2 more minutes. Retire from oven and let it cool down fro 10 minutes, then chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before pouring lemon curd.
To make the lemon curd: In a medium glass bowl whisk the eggs and egg yolks with the sugar and lemon juice until the sugar has dissolved. Fill a large skillet with water until half thru and bring water to light boil over medium low heat. Place the bowl on the skillet and using a wooden spoon stir slowly but almost constantly until the mixture thickens, about 15 to 20 minutes. When the mixture heats it will produce some foamy white streaks. When those streaks disappear the curd should thicken up in the next 5 minutes. You are looking for a mixture that makes a sheer cover to the back of a wooden spoon and when you run a finger through the mixture it will leave a clear pass. Retire from heat and start adding the butter, a few cubes at a time and mix until almost melted before adding the next cubes. Mix until all the butter is melted and then continue mixing for an extra minute to make the curd more airy and light. Pour over cheesecake layer and chill for 8 hours or preferably overnight.
Taking the bars out: Pull up one side of the bars at a time using the parchment paper just until you feel the bars are coming up. After releasing the four sides, gently pull two of the sides until they come out. Cut in squares. Store them in the fridge. They will last for a week.