Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Lemon Cream Cheese Crumble Bars

I came up with this recipe after my 2-year-old found the cinnamon-sugar graham crackers in my pantry. Unfortunately, he tried to 'open' one of the three smaller packages inside. He didn't succeed in getting to the crackers (which is great, I don't like having sugared-up kids), but he did crush them inside the package pretty thoroughly. Not wanting to toss out perfectly good food, I came up with this recipe, which is a variation of the Lemon Cheese Bars in Cake Mix Doctor by Ann Byrn.

I used a large round spring-form pan, but you can use a 9 x 13 baking pan instead. It doesn't need to be greased.

1/3 box cinnamon sugar graham crackers, crushed to fine pieces
1 pkg. yellow cake mix (15.25 oz.)
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 pkg. cream cheese (8 oz.)
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
4 whole cloves, ground
1 tbsp. dried orange peel

1) You'll be toasting the crust and then baking it again once the filling is done, so preheat oven to 350°F

2) Mix crushed graham crackers, cake mix, oil, and 1 egg in large mixing bowl until mixture is crumbly. Reserve 1 1/2 cup for topping. Use the rest to make a crust in the bottom of your pan. Just press it with your fingers get an even coating on the bottom

3) Bake crust in oven for 13 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside, but keep the oven on.

4) For the filling, beat the cream cheese until fluffy (about 30 seconds if the cream cheese isn't too cold). Then add the rest of the ingredients - sugar, lemon juice, remaining egg, cloves, and orange peel. Then spread the filling in the crust with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle with reserved filling.
Use a rubber spatula to spread the filling
over the pre-toasted crust.

5) Bake until the crust is golden and the filling just starts to set (won't jiggle freely). In a glass 9 x 13 inch baking pan, this will take about 15 minutes. It took me a bit longer in my round metal springform pan.

6) Let it cool for about 30 minutes before you cut and serve. I garnished mine with fresh strawberry.

Almost anything made with spice-infused cream cheese seems to taste better the next day if left in the fridge overnight, so this is a great recipe to prepare well in advance of guests.