How do you level up the rich deliciousness of cheesecake, you ask? Add in fresh strawberry sauce and a pistachio shortbread crust, and you’ve got a delicious new take on a classic dessert.
In my book, strawberries and pistachios are the perfect duo. The nuttiness of the pistachios perfectly compliments the sweet and tartness of the strawberries. Throw in the cream and tanginess of cheesecake and now you have a trifecta of flavor.
Ingredients you’ll need for Strawberry Pistachio Cheesecake Bars
- Strawberries: Fresh or frozen. If they are in season and you have access to them, I highly recommend going fresh.
- Pistachios: Raw and unsalted. These can be a little difficult (and expensive) to find in a large grocery store. If possible, try looking at a local grocery store or market. They will usually have bulk bins making it much more cost-effective.
- Cream cheese: Use whichever brand you prefer. I went with the Philadelphia cream cheese because it was slightly tangier, which I prefer in a cheesecake.
- Heavy cream: Used to help give these bars their velvety, creamy texture.
- Lemon juice: Added to help balance the flavor of the fat in the cream cheese and heavy cream.
- Cornstarch: Used to help thicken the strawberry sauce slightly. You can also use arrowroot as a substitute.
- All-purpose flour, sugar, butter, eggs, salt, and vanilla extract: The remaining ingredients provide structure and flavor.
How to make Strawberry Pistachio Cheesecake Bars
There are 3 parts to making this recipe:
- Strawberry sauce
- Pistachio shortbread crust
- Cheesecake filling
Start with making strawberry sauce:
You’ll need a small bowl, a saucepan and a fine mesh strainer.
- Mix the cornstarch and half a tablespoon of water.
- Cook the remaining tablespoon of water, sugar, and strawberries in a saucepan
- Stir in the cornstarch mixture, and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
- Press the strawberry sauce through a fine-mesh strainer and allow it to cool.
Next, make the pistachio shortbread crust:
Adapted from my Meyer Lemon Bars recipe - this pistachio shortbread crust is perfect for cheesecakes, and the best part is that it comes together quickly and easily.
- Use a food processor or blender to blend the pistachios into a flour.
- Mix all dry ingredients. Stir in wet ingredients. The mixture will be on the wetter side.
- In a baking dish with parchment paper, press the crust firmly on the bottom of the pan. To help smooth it out, use what you have...back of a spoon, measuring cup, or my personal favorite, a cocktail muddler.
- Bake until the edges are just slightly golden brown.
Finally, make cheesecake filling and assemble your strawberry pistachio cheesecake bars:
It is important to make sure all ingredients for the filling are at room temperature. This will ensure that the filling comes out creamy and smooth. I like to pull out my ingredients about an hour before I start baking. But, if my cream cheese is still not at room temperature, I place it in the microwave for 10-15 second increments until it is evenly at room temperature. Make sure not to overheat it; you don’t want it melted.
Cream together the cream cheese and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, and mix in the remaining wet ingredients until everything is combined, smooth and creamy.
For assembly, it is as simple as pouring the cheesecake filling into your prebaked crust and adding in the strawberry sauce. When adding the strawberry sauce, I like to drizzle it with a spoon because it adds an extra level of control.
Tips for successful cheesecake bars:
Prep ingredients ahead of time: In alignment with the above, prepping your ingredients ahead of time helps mitigate mistakes.
Don’t skip the chill time: The chilling allows your cheesecake to set, which is what gives them their creamy and velvety texture.
Oven temperature: The key to success in a lot of recipes often comes down to temperature. Some ovens run too hot, too cold, and everywhere in between. If possible, I recommend investing in an oven thermometer to make sure you know what your true oven temperature is. If that is not possible, no worries, there are other ways you can get an idea. Joy, over at Joy the Baker, has a great Baking 101 on testing your oven using sliced bread.
Yes! Cheesecake bars need ample time to chill, between 6-24 hours, so making them a day or two before is ideal.
When checking for doneness, you look for the edges to be set and the middle to have a slight jiggle. But what does that even mean?! To know whether the sides are set, you should see them slightly puffed up with a somewhat dull or matte look to them. Now for the middle, using an oven mitt, give the edge of the pan a nudge or a soft shake. The middle should not be liquidity or ripple when you shake it. Instead, it should have a little bit of stiffness to it, and the center should wiggle (Think: If you’ve ever jiggled Jello, kinda like that).
Cheesecake bars are delicious served at room temperature. Once your cheesecake bars have set, you can take them out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes to 1 hour before you are ready to serve. But when not serving, keep them stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container to ensure they stay fresh for up to 3-5 days.
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If you enjoy these Strawberry Pistachio Cheesecake Bars, please consider tagging @nightowlsbakingco on Instagram and leaving a review below.
Thank you to my Significant Other, roommates, and co-workers for being the taste testers…your hard work and sacrifice does not go unnoticed.