easy-to-make cheesecake with lots of berries

Gotta love this time of year.  All of that locally-grown fresh fruit, especially those berries!  Lots of berries.  So delicious.  And good for you, too.  Once in a while though, we may want to indulge a bit with those berries.  Like by using them to top off some rich and yummy cheesecake.  The best part of this recipe is that it is so easy.  The cheesecake itself consists of three layers.  A graham cracker crust, creamy cheese filling and a layer of slightly sweetened sour cream.  Each layer is baked in stages in a baking dish or pan.  So easy, right?  Let’s start with the graham cracker base layer.

You can use packaged graham cracker crumbs or start with the crackers, as I did here.  They are easy to break down in your food processor.  I used a mini unit and took care of it in just a few batches.  Also, keep in mind that this is where you can make this a gluten-free treat.  Gluten-free graham crackers are readily available in most supermarkets now.

When you have finished mixing the ingredients for the graham cracker crust, test it for the proper consistency.  The crumbs should be just moist enough to come together so that you are able to form a solid first layer.  If they are still a bit too “crumbly” just add a little more melted butter.

The cheesecake will be baked in a 13″ by 9″ baking dish or pan.  No need for a springform pan or baking in a water bath as you sometimes do with other cheesecake recipes.  So here is where you can decide how you want to serve your dessert.  You can simply butter the baking dish and proceed from there.  You’ll have a lovely dessert that can be cut and served directly from the baking dish.  Way easier.

Or you can set this up so that the whole thing is eventually lifted from the dish and cut into bars.  That’s where the parchment paper comes into play.  You actually use the edges of the excess paper as handles to lift and transfer the baked cheesecake.  I would never mislead you.  This part can be tricky.  The cheesecake is very creamy (that’s what makes it so yummy) and it must be well refrigerated to pull this off.  A full 24 hours, or at the very least overnight, is highly recommended.

Whichever method you use, you won’t be disappointed.

The cream cheese filling comes together so quickly with just 4 ingredients.  You can work on that and have it ready for when the crust comes out of the oven.  Layer the filling on top of the crust and place it back in the oven.  While that’s baking, prepare the sour cream topping.

Once again, it’s just a few ingredients.  Three, to be exact.  After the cheesecake is removed from the oven and cooled for about five minutes, it’s ready for the topping.  It’s a good idea to evenly place spoonfuls of the topping over the surface of the cake and then spread them out so that the whole thing is covered.

After another 10 minutes in the oven, the cheesecake is ready to be thoroughly chilled.  Give it a short time at room temperature on a cooling rack.  Then place it in the fridge until you’re ready to add the finishing touch of those delicious berries.  I used a combination of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries & blackberries.  If you can find red currants, they would be a lovely addition.  If the berries are on the large side, trim them down to a more appropriate size.

Cut the cheesecake into 2″ by 2″ squares.  Serve immediately.  If not ready to serve, keep refrigerated until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

easy-to-make cheesecake with lots of berries

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Not-too-sweet layered cheesecake topped off with an abundance of summer berries.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 24 servings

Ingredients

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs or gluten-free graham cracker crumbs (220 grams)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50 grams)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted (85 grams)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Cheesecake

  • 1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature (3 8-ounce packages)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sour Cream Topping

  • 2 cups sour cream (16 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (25 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 cups mixed berries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch rectangular baking dish or pan.  OR Line the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch rectangular baking pan with 2 sheets of parchment paper (crisscrossed), leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides.

Graham Cracker Crust

  1. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, melted butter, salt, and vanilla extract in a bowl.  Mix with a fork until well incorporated.  Press firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Bake for 10 minutes.

Cheesecake

  1. While the crust is baking, beat the cream cheese and sugar until fluffy, then beat in eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly mixed, scraping down the sides and bottom of your bowl between each addition.  Beat in vanilla.  Pour over prepared crust (still hot is fine) and bake for 25 minutes, until puffed but still jiggly like Jell-O when shimmied.  Let cool on a rack for 5 minutes.

Sour Cream Topping

  1. Whisk together the sour cream, sugar, and vanilla.  Drop spoonfuls of topping all over cheesecake and spread gently into one thin layer.  Bake cheesecake with topping for 10 minutes.

  2. Set pan on a cooling rack and let cool; refrigerate at least 2 hours if serving directly from the pan.  If cutting into bars, refrigerate overnight or ideally for 24 hours.

To Serve

  1. If serving right from the pan, scatter berries all over the cheesecake.  Cut gently into 2×2ish-inch squares with a serrated knife. Keep any leftovers in the fridge.

  2. OR If removing from the pan and cutting into bars, use the parchment paper sling to carefully lift the cheesecake out of the pan and transfer it to a cutting board.  If you can, carefully slide the cheesecake off the paper — this should be doable, but the cheesecake can crack in the process, so proceed at your own risk.  Scatter berries all over the cake.  Cut gently into 2×2ish-inch squares with a serrated knife.  Keep any leftovers in the fridge.

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