I am feeling pretty darn proud of myself this week. If I were a cartoon, I’d have my chest all puffed up and be strutting around, grinning from ear to ear. Potentially doing gun fingers and winking at people.
This week my Blueberry Violet Éclairs were included in a slideshow about edible flowers on HuffPost Taste. Then I got an email letting me know my Buttered Popcorn Malted Milk Ball Cookies were going to be the featured image on FoodPornDaily.
I get the impression that I’m supposed to be calm about these things, kind of quietly gracious, like leading ladies at awards shows. But instead, I flip my shit and squeal and do embarrassing dances and kickboxing moves all over the house. I bet all those Oscar winning actresses do that when they get off stage, though.
Since I started blogging in November, I have tried my best to keep my writing interesting and funny, to post photos that are perdy and (hopefully) continually improving, and to create and adapt inventive recipes. So to get validation from people who actually know their stuff is huge for me. I do this for the love of baking, but to hear that someone else enjoys what I am passionate about gives me a heart-splosion.
Now I kind of understand why the puffed-up thing is a sign of pride, because don’t you just feel a bursting coming from your chest plate when you’re proud of yourself? Or is that acid reflux? I may have just eaten too many of these cheesecake bars.
The little cherries I bought at a farmers’ market a couple weeks ago were mouth-pinchingly sour. I had a vision in my head of what I wanted these bars to look like, and though I hadn’t quite figured out the flavor profile, sour cherries were definitely not a part of it. I just knew I needed some “decent cherries,” which is exactly what I wrote on the grocery list for my husband. He came back with some very stately cherries, and I set to work.
Obviously, almonds and cherries are a match made in flavor heaven, but I didn’t know before this week that goat cheese complements cherries pretty well, too. I am a goat cheese fanatic, and have been meaning to experiment with it as a cream cheese substitute, so that’s what went down in these bars.
Since I used half goat cheese and half cream cheese for the cheesecake filling, the goat cheese flavor is subtle. I felt I could taste it stronger in the first bite of every bar, and then it’s almost like my mouth got used to the added tang. I fear that using all goat cheese would make the filling too dry, but who knows?
Goat cheese is pricier than cream cheese, so if you want to keep costs down, you could probably use all cream cheese and have these bars turn out good as regular cherry cheesecake bars. The taste and possibly texture will probably be a little different. Follow your rainbow, you know?
- 1 cup (140 grams) raw, whole almonds
- 1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup (55 grams) packed light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- 8 ounces (226 grams) goat cheese, softened
- 8 ounces (226 grams) cream cheese, softened
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (150 grams) cherries
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Spread almonds on a baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes, until fragrant, stirring occasionally. Let cool slightly, then roughly chop the almonds.
- In a medium mixing bowl, stir together chopped almonds, flour, brown sugar, salt, and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan. Bake crust for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack while making filling.
- Halve cherries and remove pits. In the bowl of a food processor, process goat cheese, cream cheese, eggs, and sugar. (If you do not have a food processor, you can use a hand or stand mixer. Beat the goat cheese and cream cheese together first, until smooth and creamy, then add the eggs and sugar.) Remove the food processor blade, then gently stir in most of the cherry halves by hand, reserving 18 cherry halves for the top. Pour filling onto cooled crust. Arrange remaining 18 cherry halves, cut side up, on top. I did a zig-zag pattern with rows of 3 and 4, but you can do whatever you think looks good!
- Bake at 325°F for 35-40 minutes, until the center just barely jiggles, or a thermometer inserted in the middle of the pan reads 155-160°F. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours. Cut into 16 squares and serve.