Raspberry-Rhubarb Cheesecake Bars

Adapted from Southern Living, May 2015
Note: I adapted this recipe to make an 8 x 8 pan or half of the original recipe.  My measurements are in parentheses.

CRUST

2 cups (1 C) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1/4 C) powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon (1/4 tsp) baking soda
1/4 teaspoon (1/8 tsp) table salt
3/4 cup cold butter (6 tablespoons), cubed
3/4 cup (1/4 + 1/8 cup) toasted slivered almonds, coarsely chopped
Parchment paper and cooking spray to prepare the baking pan

RHUBARB-RASPBERRY FILLING

3/4 cup (1/4 + 1/8 cup) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1/8 C) cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon (1/8 tsp) table salt
1 pound rhubarb or 1-lb package frozen rhubarb, thawed, (1/2 lb or about 2 cups fresh) cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 6-ounce (1 6-oz) containers fresh raspberries
1 teaspoon (1/2 tsp) vanilla extract

CREAM CHEESE BATTER

2 8-ounce (1 8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup (1/4 + 1/8 C) granulated sugar
2 (1) large eggs
1 teaspoon (1/2 tsp) lemon zest
1 tablespoon (1 tsp + 1/2 tsp) fresh lemon juice

Optional garnishes:  Powdered sugar, fresh raspberries or lemon ice cream

To prepare the crust: Preheat oven to 350°.  Toast the almonds in a small frying pan over medium heat, stirring every few minutes, until golden. Coarsely chop the almonds and set aside. Spray an 13 x 9 (8 x 8 for half recipe) inch baking pan with non-stick baking spray.  Cut a piece of parchment paper the size of the bottom of the pan by outlining it on a piece of parchment and cut to fit. Place the parchment in the bottom of the pay and spray the parchment with baking spray. Stir together flour, powdered sugar and baking soda in a large bowl.  Cut the cubed butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender until crumbly. Stir in the toasted almonds. Press the mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pan.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack until ready to use.

To prepare the filling: Stir together the granulated sugar, cornstarch and salt in a large heavy saucepan.  Stir in rhubarb and 1 (1/2) container raspberries. Let stand 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla and remaining raspberries.

To prepare the cream cheese batter: Beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and beat just until blended after each addition. Add lemon zest and juice, beating well.

Spread Rhubarb-Raspberry Filling over Crust. Gently spread Cream Cheese Batter over filling.

Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until set (mine took about 40 minutes). The center should have risen to the same height as the outsides. Cool on a wire rack at least 1 hour.

Cover and chill 4 to 8 hours. Cut into bars and serve with fresh raspberries or lemon ice cream. 
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