How to improve the creamy texture and flavor of lemon cheesecake bars baked atop a sugar cookie crust? Sprinkle with sugar and torch it to add a crunchy layer of caramel!
After creating a delectable two-toned crème brûlée and a chai crème brûlée, we became hopelessly smitten with our kitchen torch and the multi-sensory delight it produces when applied to sugar crystals. We applied the technique to a different dessert with a creamy texture, cheesecake, and ended up with very satisfying results. We baked the cheesecakes in a rectangular pan so they could be cut into squares about two bites each, which is the perfect size – a miniature feast for the senses.
In recipes that call for sweetened condensed milk, we make our own. In addition to being less expensive and more natural, our homemade version has none of the tin-can aftertaste common to many canned products, and none of the harmful BPA manufacturers use to line cans. With the help of a stick blender, it’s easy to whip together 1 cup of powdered milk, 2/3 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of boiling water, and 3 tablespoons of butter to create 14 ounces of sweetened condensed milk. This homemade version keeps well covered in the refrigerator.
Lemon Brûlée Cheesecake Bars
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 oz. softened cream cheese
- 7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 4 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 tbsp fine granulated sugar for brulee-ing, approximately
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8.5″ x 4.5″ glass loaf pan with parchment paper and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- In large bowl, combine butter, sugar, flour and vanilla until dough forms.
- Press evenly into the bottom of prepared dish. Set aside.
- In another bowl, whip cream cheese.
- Stir in sweetened condensed milk. Scrape sides and mix again.
- Pour in egg, lemon zest and juice.
- Mix until mixture starts to thicken, 20-30 seconds. Scrape sides and mix again briefly.
- Pour overtop cookie bottom and smooth the top.
- Bake 20 minutes or until cheesecake is completely set.
- Cool, then refrigerate.
- Cut into 16 squares and separate.
- Sprinkle the tops of each square with 1 teaspoon of sugar and spread around with finger to evenly distribute sugar. Torch the tops until the sugar melts and turns an amber color. (If you don’t have a torch, place under the broiler.)
Let the top cool for a few minutes, then serve immediately.