This recipe for Lemon Cheesecake Bars is made in an 8 x 8 pan and uses tart lemon curd to give each decadent bite just the right amount of tang. Plus a simple water bath ensures a creamy, smooth cheesecake with no cracks. Perfect make-ahead dessert for brunches, showers or graduations!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 8 x 8 baking pan with parchment paper or foil leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.
Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Dump into prepared baking pan and evenly press crumb mixture into pan to form crust. Place in refrigerator to set while preparing cheesecake.
For the filling:
Beat together cream cheese and ¾ cup sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs until incorporated. Add sour cream and lemon juice and gently mix until batter is smooth. Stir in lemon zest. Pour batter over crust. Gently add dollops of lemon curd over the top of the cheesecake batter. Use the tip of an offset spreader or knife to gently swirl the curd into the batter taking care not to hit the crust.
Place a larger pan (9 x 13 or larger) in the oven and set cheesecake pan inside it. Fill large pan with enough water so it reaches halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan.
Bake for 50-55 minutes or until cheesecake is just set. Turn off the oven, prop the oven door open with the handle of a wooden spoon and allow to cool for another hour.
Remove bars from water bath and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to serve, lift cheesecake from pan using overlapping paper or foil. Cut cleanly into bars by using a sharp knife run under hot water and dried after each cut.
Line the pan with parchment paper or nonstick foil to use as handles to lift the cheesecake bars out of the pan when you’re ready to cut and serve them.
Use the bottom of a drinking glass to press the graham cracker mixture into the pan to keep the crust even.
A straight edge cake pan is necessary to get sharp, square corners on your cheesecake bars. USA Pans are my favorite. Durable, non-stick and easy to clean.
A water bath is an easy step that helps prevent your cheesecake from cracking on the top or sinking in the middle. It sounds fancy but is little more than putting your baking pan into another larger pan and filling the larger vessel with water halfway up the sides of your baking pan. (Think 8 x 8 pan inside 9 x 13 pan for visual reference.)
This cheesecake must chill overnight to completely set up. Run a knife under warm water and wipe clean between cuts to ensure clean, even slices.
You can make these bars up to three days in advance. Keep them tightly covered in the refrigerator. Or freeze for up to three months.