End of Summer Series, continues.
It’s the first week of September with Labor Day Weekend right around the corner. And although you may be celebrating a little differently than you imagined at the beginning of the summer, a civic holiday is always the perfect moment to take a little extra time and make a dessert that’s slightly more intricate than your basic drop cookie or classic tray bake, regardless of how you’ll be celebrating. Not that there’s anything wrong with the basic stuff. I’m down for a good healthy-ish brownie with some red, white, and blue sprinkles anyyyyy day. But, I also love an excuse to create something extra exciting. And these Blackberry Lemon Cheesecake Bars are that exactly.
Imagine a generous serving of lemony blackberry puree swirled into a light and velvety cheesecake. All nestled atop a soft but chewy simple crust. I don’t know about you, but to me, that sounds like a bite of pure bliss. The contrast of tart and sweet, light and creamy, soft and chewy, it hits all the spots. And of course, because it’s a recipe from yours truly, I’ve put a healthy spin on it. The crust is primarily made of raw almonds and coconut flour. And while I prefer it baked, you can absolutely keep it raw/no-bake if that’s more your speed. I find that the flavors in the crust are more pronounced once baked, namely the cinnamon and maple syrup.
The cheesecake layer is made of soaked raw cashews to give it the creamy texture and coconut milk for that smooth lusciousness you’d expect from a traditional cheesecake. The cheesecake is spiked with a healthy dose of lemon juice for a light tartness that goes so well with the blackberries. The blackberry swirl is simply blackberries blended with a touch of maple syrup and some lemon zest. I give two options for creating the blackberry swirl, one that has glorious chunks of fruit (and is easier) and another for a smooth puree. (The above is the chunky version and below is the smooth version). And because I love options, if you want to go the easiest route, make the blackberry mixture per your preference and just layer if on top of the cheesecake mixture for a layered look. Either way you go with the blackberry puree, when you put everything together, it’s just magical. To me, these bars are the perfect dessert for this “baking shoulder season” we are in the midst of. It’s bright and light, highlights the in-season blackberry, but still a little decadent from the creamy cheesecake. And, hopefully, it’s passed the point of being too hot to turn on the oven should you elect to bake the crust.
More than anything, I love a good recipe that seems as if it is more intricate to create than in actuality. This Blackberry Lemon Cheesecake is made almost entirely in a food processor, so no need for multiple tools or bowls. And while the recipe’s ingredient list may appear to be long, it’s made with only 11 ingredients (including the salt). Several of the ingredients repeat in the different sections. These cheesecake bars are made better-for-you by containing no refined flours, sugars, or oils. It’s paleo-friendly (gluten/grain/dairy free) and is sweetened naturally with maple syrup! But still, these Blackberry Lemon Cheesecake Bars are incredibly delicious and the perfect dessert to help send off summer.
paleo friendly (gluten/grain/dairy free), naturally sweetened, vegan (raw option)
Blackberry Lemon Cheesecake Bars
This easy and delicious cheesecake is layered with a lemony blackberry swirl. The perfect combination of tart and sweet, creamy and light, and cozy and refreshing.
vegan (raw option), paleo-friendly (gluten/grain/dairy free), & naturally sweetened
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 5 tbsp coconut oil melted
- 5 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 cups cashews raw
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup coconut oil melted and cooled
- 4 tbsp lemon juice about 1 juicy lemon
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 1 cup blackberries
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
Soak cashews in filtered water for at least 2 hours (or if you're short on time, soak in boiled water for 20 minutes).
Line a square (8 or 9 inch) baking dish with parchment paper.
Blend all crust ingredients together in a blender or food processor until everything is damp and starting to form a coarse dough. Dough should stick together when pressed.
Pour crust ingredients into the baking dish and press down firmly with a rubber spatula into an even layer. You can use a piece of parchment paper to press on top of the dough to ensure an even layer.
Bake the crust in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. This step is optional if you prefer to keep it raw/no-bake. If baking, remove from oven and let cool.
Wipe the interior of the blender/food processor.
Drain the cashews. Make the filling by blending all the filling ingredients together until it is creamy and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Taste and add more lemon juice and/or maple syrup to your liking.
Pour the filling over the crust and spread into an even layer using a rubber spatula. Don't wipe down the food processor before making the blackberry puree.
Blackberry Swirl Options:
Easy Chunky Version: Pulse the the Blackberry Swirl ingredients in the food processor a 2-3 times until juicy but still chunky. Spoon all over cheesecake layer.
Smooth Version: Blend the Blackberry Swirl ingredients together in the food processor until thin. Pour mixture over a fine mesh strainer and use the back of a rubber spatula to push through the mixture, separating the seeds from the puree. For a swirl, pour small pools over the cheesecake and swirl with a knife. Or just pour over the cheesecake and leave as a top layer.
Add additional lemon zest to the top of the blackberry layer if you like!
Place in the freezer to set until firm, about 2-3 hours. Once solid, slice and enjoy!
Store in an airtight container in the freezer. If stored long term, it may need to temper at room temperature for a few minutes before soft enough to enjoy!
If you make this recipe, please feel free to leave a review or rating down below. And I’d LOVE to see your creation! Please tag me on Instagram @freshlydafna and use #freshlydafna.
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