Good Eats and Sweet Treats from My Small Boston Kitchen

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

I’ve said it before  but I’ll say it again – I love springtime desserts. They’re so bright and zesty, and they usher in a certain hopefulness that we didn’t allow ourselves to feel through those bitterly cold months when it seemed like  the warmth would never return. Lemon is a prominent flavor and ingredient in many of those recipes that I love so much, so it was no wonder that I settled on a lemony recipe for Easter (again) this year. No need to remind me that Easter was a month ago now… I’m playing some serious catch-up around here! As usual, I hope you’ll bear with me. This recipe is worth it! Now that Kevin and I have just 5 months until our wedding, we use every trip back to visit our parents as a wedding planning trip as well. We’re getting married right near where I grew up, so it’s only natural to try to pack in appointments with the caterer, venue, DJ and everyone else on the few weekends we’re home. Easter weekend was no different, we had plans all day Saturday and church Sunday morning, so I put little thought into making these.

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Unfortunately when you don’t plan, you often come to find that when you walk into the pantry, a handful of necessary ingredients are not there. That’s what happens when you don’t shop before hand! I had picked out a few recipes that looked appealing, so when I found we had no means of making a crust – no ginger snaps, no graham crackers – I decided to make up something on my own.

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

I opted for a shortbread crust, which I paired with a basic lemon cheesecake, and then I bruleed the tops for a fun twist. Generally I’m used to making and eating cheesecake with some sort of cookie crust, so this was an interesting and well-received change. The shortbread got pleasingly crispy on the bottom, and the creamy cheesecake was the perfect compliment. I was so stuffed from the rest of dinner that I didn’t finish my cheesecake square, but you better believe I enjoyed the leftovers immensely!

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

You could easily make these without the bruleed tops, and they’d be just as wonderful, but I like to play with recipes and dress things up from time to time, and I actually really enjoyed the crunchy top that the caramelized sugar created! It gives them a subtle air of sophistication, even though they’re really not to sophisticated at all.

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

 What’s your favorite lemon recipe?

Lemon Cheesecake Bars


  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Cheesecake
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup sugar granulated sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 9x9 pan with parchment paper and coat with butter or nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, place butter, sugar, flour, vanilla and lemon zest, and mix until a crumbly dough forms. Alternatively you could do this in a food processor, pulsing just until a crumbly dough forms. Press evenly into the bottom of your prepared pan, and bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes.
  3. While the crust is par-baking, make the filling. In a large bowl, beat softened cream cheese until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition, and then add lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar, and continue beating until combined. Pour the cheesecake mixture onto the par-baked crust, and return pan to the oven.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cheesecake is set, and the center is only slightly jiggly. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack before refrigerating for at least 3 hours. Once cheesecake is completely chilled and set, remove from pan using the parchment lining and slice into 9 or 16 bars. Serve immediately, or sprinkle with granulated sugar and brulee before serving.

3 Responses to “Lemon Cheesecake Bars”

  1. You’re right: These bars scream Spring!

  2. ps152 says:

    I love that you bruleed them. Way to take these bars to a whole new level of yum.

  3. Liz says:

    These look amazing and I love that the ingredients are so simple! I agree, lemon desserts are a sure sign of spring.

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