I love cheesecake, especially the pumpkin variety. My ‘cheesecakes’ tag only has two cheesecakes in it, and both of them are pumpkin. (On that note, neither one of them has even a remotely decent photo, but hopefully that will change once I remake them sometime this fall.) Cheesecake isn’t really a summer dessert for me. I go for things like ice cream and popsicles. With temperatures steadily over 100º, you can understand why. However, my perspective changed when I found this recipe (and a beautiful basket of apricots at the farmers market).
The cheesecake on its own is quite delicious, but it’s the apricot swirls that really make it stand out. The cheesecake itself is sweet with just a little bit of tanginess from the sour cream. The apricots add a tart, slightly sweet flavor to the cheesecake. This is a really luscious dessert that is perfect for summer. If you want to simplify the recipe, you can use 3/4 cup of strained jam in place of the apricot purée. I bet it would be fantastic with blackberries or blackberry jam. I actually had a bit of the purée left over, and I think it would taste great on toast or drizzled over vanilla ice cream.
Apricot Swirled Cheesecake Bars
18 graham crackers
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
10 ounces apricots, halved, pitted and cut into eighths
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten, room temperature
-Preheat oven to 350º.
-Process graham crackers, sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor until fine crumbs form.
-Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in melted butter until crumbs are thoroughly moistened. Wipe processor bowl clean.
-Using a flat-bottomed glass or the palms of your hands, evenly press crumbs into a 9×13 baking dish.
-Bake crust until firm, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool on wire rack.
-Reduce oven temperature to 325º.
-In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring apricots, 1/4 cup sugar and pinch of salt to a boil. Stir continuously until sugar dissolves.
-Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.
-Combine apricot mixture, lemon juice and water in food processor and purée until smooth. Set aside.
-In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sour cream on medium speed until smooth.
-Add 3/4 cup sugar and continue beating until smooth. Add vanilla and pinch of salt, then add eggs and continue beating until smooth, scraping down the bowl as needed.
-Once crust is cooled, pour in the cream cheese mixture. Smooth the top.
-Randomly drop small spoonfuls of the apricot purée on top of the cream cheese mixture. Using a skewer or thin-bladed knife, gently swirl the purée. To achieve different patterns, make shallow motions (figure eights, spirals, back and forth) across the purée.
-Bake until just set, about 25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly in pan on rack, then refrigerate at least 2 hours until chilled and firm.
-Cut into squares and serve. Alternately, cover with plastic wrap or foil and store in refrigerator for up to two days.
Adapted from Everyday Food, July/August 2010