November 25, 2008

Cranberry Cheesecake Squares

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup light brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
16 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 large eggs
juice of one tangerine
zest of one tangerine

Preheat oven to 350. Grease or spray with baking spray an 8x8 inch pan. In a small bowl, add the butter, sugar, flour, oats and salt, mix thoroughly with a fork. Press into bottom of the pan. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to flatten and press firmly.

Bake 15 minutes or until just golden. Meanwhile, cream together the cream cheese and sugar. Add the egg, zest, juice and flour, beat until smooth. Pour over the crust. Dot with cranberry sauce and swirl with the tip of a knife. Bake 25 minutes or until set. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares.

My thoughts:

My husband loves cranberry sauce. Once cranberries make their appearance in the grocery store I start making cranberry sauce with any meal where it seems appropriate. I think I've made a different cranberry sauce just about every week since late October. This leaves me with a fair amount of leftover cranberry sauce to play with. I've made yummy muffins with cranberry sauce already this year but I wanted to make a dessert with cranberry sauce that would be holiday-worthy. These are a snap to put together and can be made ahead. Prebaking the crust is a bit of a time killer but you can make the filling while it bakes and it ensures a perfect, crisp crust. I also liked using oatmeal in the crust, it is a little nontraditional but it really adds some body to the crust and actually makes the bars a little easier to slice and lift out of the pan. The tangerine flavor is present but not too strong, it just adds a citrus note to the cheesecake. I really can't say enough about this bars, they are just really good, my whole family raved over them and my mother deemed them "swoon-worthy".

Note: any whole berry (i.e. not jellied) cranberry sauce would work, even store bought (!) but I think using this cranberry-tangerine sauce would be the best.