Have I mentioned how stellar our new neighbours are yet? It's worth mentioning again. After a whopping 3 weeks in the neighbourhood, we feel like we've been here for ages (in the very best of ways). There have already been many an evening spent fire-side, with many a drink a laugh to be had. Nicknames for F. abound and have evolved into (my mother's favourite) "F. Dot," and "F. Pants." Needless to say, we kind of like living here!
Last night was no exception when 3 households came together for a BBQ. "F. Pants" has been in his element, making great use of that smoker, and last night he contributed two batches of spicy (intentionally, this time!) smoked chicken wings that were to die for. It really didn't take him long to get the hang of things, and I'm certainly loving the fringe benefits of having that smoker around!
I wanted to whip up something fast but tasty for dessert; something that could be dished out alongside a burger if need be. I dug around and found a recipe by Mark Bittman for these No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecake Squares that were featured in the NY Times in July 2008. My mom has made something similar to these for years, so immediately the recipe appealed to me. I'm not sure what the ingredients are in my mother's version, but the beauty of Bittman's recipe is that it's really quite light! Using cream cheese, ricotta (both can be 'light', if you choose), lemon zest and honey for the filling, then graham crackers, chopped walnuts, and a little butter for the base, you really could fare worse (calorically speaking!) in a dessert.
Had I let them set longer, I'm sure they would have come out more cleanly, but I was much too impatient. The squares were light, fluffy, and decadent enough in the aftermath of a BBQ. I absolutely loved the extra crunch in the crust made by the walnuts, too. A fast and delicious recipe to kick off your weekend this summer!
No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
By Mark Bittman
Time: 20 minutes, plus 1 hour's chilling
16 graham cracker squares (8 whole crackers), crushed
1/4 cup ground pecans or walnuts, optional
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
Rind of a lemon, freshly grated
About 1 1/2 cups blueberries.
1. Combine crushed graham crackers, nuts if using, and melted butter. Press evenly into bottom of an 8- or 9-inch square pan (glass is good) to form a crust about 1/4-inch thick. Put in refrigerator until ready to use.
2. Using a standing or hand mixer, or a whisk, combine cream cheese, ricotta, honey, lemon rind and salt, and blend until smooth.
3. Spread cheese mixture carefully and evenly over crust, using a spatula or butter knife to smooth top. Cover with fresh blueberries and chill for at least an hour, or until set. Cut into squares or bars and serve.
Yield: 8 to 12 servings.