A Summer Beach Picnic + Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust!

Some of early summer’s star produce comes together beautifully in this perfectly balanced Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust.

This Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust is the perfect dessert recipe for any beach picnic, BBQ or fancy dinner party!
Photo: Meg Sorel

As someone who left a sufficiently cushy job in the corporate world to become self-employed, one of the most frequent questions I’m asked is, “Do you ever miss being in an office with coworkers?” And my answer is always, “Honestly, no.” Sure, the self-employed world can be lonely at times, but I consider myself AMAZINGLY lucky to have found a solid group of like-minded ladies (and yes, even some men) who have also set out on their own and forged a path for themselves in the world of entrepreneurship, specifically in the food, beverage and entertaining bizzes.

Recently, a few of us got together to kick off summer with a beautifully styled beach picnic featuring some incredibly delicious food and wine. Since I’ve been itching to refine my pie-making skills, I offered to bring one showcasing some of my favorite fruits of the season thus, this Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust was born.

A fun and fresh Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with a flaky amaretto crust. The perfect summer dessert!
Photo: Meg Sorel

Here’s what everyone else brought/contributed (with live links to their posts/websites!)

Le Petit Chef

Denisse is a private chef and food photographer based here in Santa Barbara and brought the most refreshing Poached Lobster Salad with Peaches, Shaved Fennel and White Corn and delectable Crab Toasts with Heirloom Tomato & Charred Scallion Aioli.

The Oyster Tin

Jamie (also a private chef) just started this “micro-shuckery” here in SB and, let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve tasted these oysters. She brought both raw and BBQ oysters to our little picnic and the BBQ sauce on the cooked ones was just insane!

FOLD

Not only does Viktoriya make some of the most beautiful table linens, she’s also a pro at food and prop styling, She made our entire picnic set-up look like a dream…I only wish I could bring her (and her beautiful napkins and tablecloths) along with me for every picnic I go on!

Wander & Wine

If you plan to serve wine at any get-together you’re hosting, you’ll want to invite Hana-Lee. She chose the perfect wines to pair with each of our dishes. I couldn’t believe what a perfect match the Riverbench Demi-Sec Sparkling Wine was for my Strawberry Rhubarb Pie!

Meg Sorel Photography

Even though she stepped in for another photographer at the last minute, Meg was an absolute dream to work with and captured all of the beautiful images you see here and on the others’ posts.

Seafood, pie, wine and friends. What more can you ask for with a summer beach picnic?
Photo: Meg Sorel

Okay, now back to this pie. First, raise your hand if you (like me) are totally intimidated by pie-making because of the difficulty of making pie dough, rolling it out and then not only getting it to fit just right in your pie plate but also baking it to a beautiful golden brown in perfect synchronization to whatever filling you put inside.

Well, I’m here to tell you good news and bad news:

First, the bad news – it is hard. And it’s most likely not going to be perfect on your first attempt. You will most likely need to refine your practice in order to get it “just right.”

Next, the good news – it gets easier! Practice makes perfect. Once you find a recipe you like and practice it a time or two, you start to get a better feel for how it should look, feel, etc. I’m happy to say that, now that I have a basic pie crust recipe that I feel totally confident in, I’ll be making so many more pies and, after trying this recipe, I hope you will, too!

This Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust is the perfect finish to any 4th of July picnic or summer BBQ!
Photo: Meg Sorel
A picture perfect summer beach picnic with seafood, pie, wine and great friends!
Photo: Meg Sorel

There are just a couple of little secrets I want to let you in on that make this “not-your-average” Strawberry Rhubarb Pie recipe:

  1. It’s a fairly popular notion that adding chilled vodka to your pie dough (instead of water) will make it extra tender and flaky due to the alcohol dissolving during the cooking process. You know I’m all about using booze when needed, but for this recipe you’ll find me subbing in amaretto for the vodka, adding that slight nuttiness that goes perfectly with the rest of the components of the pie. For all other aspects of the dough, I turned to my favorite Model Bakery (affiliate link) recipe as a guide – I knew they wouldn’t let me down!
  2. Although the ingredients for the filling are all pretty typical, there is one ingredient that may look a little odd – balsamic vinegar. I added this to bring depth and a slight tang to the filling that pair perfectly with all the almond notes tied in throughout.

I have to say, for being such a novice in this particular aspect of baking, this Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust was a pretty huge hit.

A perfect piece of Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust is just what you need to cap off a summer meal.
Photo: Meg Sorel

It’s also perfectly portable which makes it a great dish to contribute to any 4th of July celebrations you may be attending this week.

Read on for the recipe!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 20 mins
Chilling time
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time
1 hr 50 mins
 

Some of early summer’s star produce comes together beautifully in this perfectly balanced dessert that's perfect for any warm weather get-together.

Course: Dessert
Keyword: pie, rhubarb, strawberry, summer
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup chilled butter-flavored shortening, cut into cubes (Can use regular shortening too)
  • 1/4 cup amaretto, chilled
For the filling:
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced (about 3 cups sliced)
  • 2 stalks rhubarb, sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
For the streusel:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon amaretto
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, crumbled
Instructions
  1. Begin making the dough at least an hour or two before you plan on baking your pie. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. 

  2. Next, using a pastry blender, cut in both the butter and shortening until dough is blended but crumbly with some pea-sized pieces. 

  3. Slowly mix in the amaretto using a fork until a loose dough begins to form.

  4. Using your hands, shape the dough into a thick disk. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or even overnight.

  5. To make the filling, combine strawberries, rhubarb, balsamic vinegar, sugar and flour in a large bowl. Mix until the fruit is evenly coated with the sugar, flour and vinegar. Refrigerate until you’re ready to bake your pie.

  6. Finally, assemble the streusel topping. Mix together all streusel ingredients in a medium bowl, using your fingers as needed to break up the butter pieces and make the mixture even and crumbly.

  7. Pull out your refrigerated pie dough about 15 minutes before you’re ready to start baking. This will allow it to come back down to room temperature a bit and make it easier to roll out. Once your dough is at a “roll-able” temperature, roll it into an approximately 13-inch circle and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. You may need to trim some edges and work the dough a bit once it’s in the pan to get the crust as uniform as possible. Crimp the ends as desired and then freeze for 15-30 minutes.

  8. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove your crust from the freezer and pour in the filling, then top with the streusel. 

  9. Bake pie in your 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also at this point I recommend putting on a pie shield or covering the edges of your crust with foil to prevent it from burning. Bake pie at this new reduced temperature for one hour to one hour and 15 minutes, or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly. Let cool before serving (preferably with vanilla ice cream!)

 

Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut Grutch Bars

Sharing a holiday family favorite today!

These Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut "Grutch" Bars are a holiday favorite and are so easy to make!

We’ve officially entered the month of December, which means it’s officially okay for me to start sharing all of the cookie and bar recipes I’m loving this year, and these Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut Grutch Bars are no exception.

I mean, these bars have so many layers of goodness, packing tons of indulgent, delicious flavor into every bite. They are incredibly rich (which is why they are dubbed “grutch” bars in our household) so a little serving goes a long way, but they are just too decadent to pass up. There’s a reason these are my mom’s most requested baked good from us kids once Christmas rolls around!

These Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut "Grutch" Bars are insanely delicious and bound to be an instant hit over the holidays.

So here’s what all goes into said Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut Grutch Bars (since I couldn’t reasonably fit every ingredient in the recipe title):

A layer of OG graham cracker crust
Flaked coconut
Chopped walnuts or pecans (you choose your fave! I love both.)
Butterscotch chips
Chocolate chips
And, finally, a hefty drizzle of condensed milk

Now, if that doesn’t make you just start drooling already, I don’t know what will!

Seriously though, this combination is deadly and I’m thinking I need to find multiple other ways to combine all these flavors in different types of baked goods to whip up throughout the year. Once every 12 months is not enough. What do you think? Any ideas?

So many layers of goodness in these Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut "Grutch" Bars!

The other thing I love about this recipe (besides how insanely tasty it is) is how easy it is to make. I mean, you don’t even need a mixing bowl, people!! That’s right, we layer everything right into the baking dish and pop it into the oven. And seeing as I have a newborn attached to me prettttty much 24/7, this is just the kind of recipe I need if I have any hope of baking up any sweet treats this year.

One little bit of advice: As tempting as it may be, practice all your will power not to cut into these bad boys before they are completely cool. In fact, you may want to pop them into the refrigerator for a little bit to reset after they are done baking and before you slice. Otherwise, you may have a bit of a crumbly mess on your hands (although if this ever happens to me I use it as an excuse to “taste test” and proceed to probably eat the equivalent of one or two entire bars in crumbs.)

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love all of the sweets and treats recipes that show up on blogs, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. this time of year. I find that I’m always super ambitious at the beginning of the month and bookmark tons of recipes to try, only to fall back on a few favorites once I realize how little free time I actually have. This year, I’m already being forced to slow down a bit with the baby and all, and I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself as far as getting in the kitchen. I try to cook or bake a little something every day, but if it happens, great and if it doesn’t, I’ve got a beautiful baby girl to spend this special time with.

Give the gift of these indulgent Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut "Grutch" Bars this holiday season!

The good news is, I know mom will be making plenty of Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut Grutch Bars to keep us satisfied, at least until the New Year when it will really be time for me to get my butt back into pre-pregnancy shape!

Until then, do you have any favorite family recipes to share with me for the holiday season? I’d love to see them or Pin them for future, so please leave ‘em in the comments below! Xx

5 from 2 votes
These Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut "Grutch" Bars are a holiday favorite and are so easy to make!
Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut Grutch Bars
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

These decadent bars are full of so many layers of goodness they're bound to be a hit with your friends and family this holiday season.

Course: Dessert
Servings: 24 bars
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup butter (one stick)
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (325 degrees Fahrenheit if using a glass pan.) 

  2. Melt butter in a 9-by-13 inch baking dish and sprinkle on graham cracker crumbs. Press down lightly to form a crust.

  3. Sprinkle, in layers, the coconut, nuts, butterscotch chips and chocolate chips.

  4. Drizzle condensed milk evenly over the top, trying your best to avoid getting any on the inside of the pan.

  5. Place in preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. 

  6. Cool completely before cutting into bars. You may want to refrigerate the bars once they have cooled slightly to speed the process along and prevent the bars from becoming too crumbly. 

  7. Keep in a resealable container either at room temperature (if it’s not too warm wherever you are) or in the refrigerator. 

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars

Who’s up for a back-to-school treat?

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars are the perfect way to kick off fall and back to school.

I sure am, even though it’s now officially been over 10 years since I’ve been in school. But I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t want some Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars in their life?

I realize it’s not been too long since I posted my last cheesecake recipe, but when you’ve got something good going on I’m all about celebrating it. And when the ideas are flowing I’m always anxious to share them all with you!

These Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars are definitely my jam. They’re the perfect size, meaning you don’t feel completely laden with alllll the dairy after devouring a huge piece. And did I mention they’re full of one of my favorite flavor combinations ever? Yep, in case you didn’t know, I’m a huge fan and could eat PB&J basically every day of my life until the end of time if given the opportunity.

It’s peanut butter-jelly time, my friends.

These Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars are the perfect back-to-school treat for your little ones!

Let me tell you, we are not skimping on any flavor here. Even though it doesn’t seem like much, the peanut butter and jelly flavors really shine along with the cheesecake. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a huge fan of the Classic New York-Style Cheesecake but, especially at this time of year with school starting up again and fall creeping back onto the scene, it’s fun to mix it up and sneak in some classic childhood combos.

So, what do you think? Ready to hear how perfected the ultimate Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars? You’re going to be blown away by how easy this is…

A bite of these Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars is all you need to soak your day's worries away!

First, we start with a peanut butter-y graham cracker crust. All that’s required for this step is graham crackers, peanut butter, butter and a food processor. That’s it! Pulse it all together and press it into a square baking dish lined with parchment paper. We bake it off just a tad to get things to set a crisp up a bit, then we’re off to the races with our strawberry jelly swirled cheesecake batter!

The first step to Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars: a peanut butter-graham cracker crust!

True to my usual habits, I stuck to using one block of regular cream cheese and one block of light cream cheese for my batter base. Remember, we’re all about that balance! It’s all very similar to my other cheesecake recipes, so if you’ve made either of those before (and even if you’ve not) you’re in good shape to whip these up tonight.

Once the cheesecake batter is poured all over the peanut butter-y graham cracker crust, you’re going to want to strategically place some hefty dollops of your favorite jam or jelly over top. We’re incredibly lucky to have a huge store of homemade jams on hand from my in-laws, so I opted for some classic strawberry, but you can really use any flavor you like.

Drag the dollops through the batter with a knife or toothpick, and you’ll get the beautiful swirly look you see in the photos.

Delicious strawberry jam is swirled through the cheesecake batter in these Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars right before baking.

Into the oven (no water bath required) for a quick 30-ish minutes, then some time to set up in the refrigerator, and you’ll have you AND your kids’ new favorite after-school snack sliced up and ready to devour as soon as they get home from school (or as soon as 5 o’clock rolls around and you’re done with work if you don’t have kids of your own.)

It doesn’t seem like much, but what this recipe lacks in difficulty it most definitely does not lack in flavor. The peanut butter in the crust carries through the entire bar and meets up with the strawberry jam that’s perfectly swirled through the cheesecake, giving you all three flavors in every single bite.

A close-up look at super-tasty Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars.

If these Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars aren’t the perfect September treat, I don’t know what is!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

 Combining a classic back-to-school flavor pairing - peanut butter and jelly - with creamy cheesecake, all in easy handheld bar form. The perfect after-school snack!

Course: Dessert
Servings: 12 bars
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the graham cracker crust:
  • 8 full sheets graham crackers
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite jam or jelly
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9x9-inch glass baking dish with parchment paper, leaving an inch or two hanging off the sides. Set aside.

  2. Now, make the crust. Combine graham crackers, peanut butter and butter in a food processor and pulse until crumbly yet sticky. Press this mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake in the 325 degree oven for 10 minutes. 

  3. While crust is baking, prepare the cheesecake filling. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream cheeses, eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla and sour cream. 

  4. Remove crust from oven and increase oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour cheesecake batter over the graham cracker crust.

  5. Place jam or jelly in a small ramekin and microwave for 20 seconds. Scoop dollops of jam evenly over top of cheesecake batter, then drag a knife or toothpick through the dollops to create a swirl pattern. 

  6. Bake cheesecake in 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden and the middle is still slightly jiggly. Let rest, out of the oven, until cool enough to touch and then transfer to the refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least a few hours or overnight.

  7. Remove cheesecake from the refrigerator and, using the overhanging parchment paper, pull bars out of the baking dish and onto a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut the cheesecake into 12 bars. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars | CaliGirlCooking.com

Pomegranate Soda Ice Cream Float

The perfect precursor to the weekend!

Pomegranate Soda Ice Cream Floats are the perfect way to bridge the gap between summer and fall. Plus they're easy and so refreshing!
This post is sponsored by Sonoma Syrup Co.

The perfect drink and dessert all in one, this Pomegranate Soda Ice Cream Float just might have to make an appearance at any end-of-summer festivities you’ll be hosting over the next couple of weekends. Because we can’t say “sayonara” to summer without a proper send-off now, can we?

I’m not sure if I’ve ever shared it here on the blog, but the hubs and I are just a bit obsessed with root beer floats. I’m not too sure what brought our obsession about, I think one day early on in our relationship we were talking about how it had been so long since either of us had enjoyed the favorite childhood dessert, so we then proceeded to go out to the grocery store and get all the fixin’s. Since then, root beer floats have been a go-to special treat for us. So much so that we even served them at our wedding last summer!

So when the folks at Sonoma Syrup Co. asked me to create a fun Labor Day-themed recipe using their Pomegranate Grenadine Simple Syrup, a float was the first thing that came to mind. I mean, who doesn’t want to celebrate the last long weekend of summer with ice cream and the sweet, delicious flavor of pomegranate, which just so happens to be coming into season as we speak? The Pomegranate Soda Ice Cream Float was born.

A Pomegranate Soda Ice Cream Float is the perfect end-of-summer treat to kick off the weekend. And it's so easy to make!

Now, you could be really fancy and whip up some of your own vanilla ice cream for the float, but if you’d rather spend your weekend enjoying friends, family, the outdoors, etc., you’ll be just as well off by grabbing some high-quality premade stuff from your local grocery store.

Aside from the ice cream, all you’ll need for this show-stopper of a recipe is some soda water, Sonoma Syrup Co.’s Pomegranate Grenadine Simple Syrup (the real star of the show) and fresh pomegranate arils to add some festive color and a little tart crunch to the drink.

Fresh pomegranate arils are the perfect topping for these super-easy Pomegranate Soda Ice Cream Floats.

If you haven’t made your own soda before, prepare to have your mind blown. Even if you don’t own a fancy SodaStream, as long as you have a good stock of flavored simple syrups and some bubbly water on hand (store bought is a-ok), you can make a myriad of flavors. All you have to do is stir together the syrup and soda and you have a tasty, refreshing drink in no time at all!

So that’s our first step: mixing together the Pomegranate Grenadine Simple Syrup and some soda water to make the perfect topper for our vanilla ice cream.

The next step is to load up a big glass with said ice cream (I’ll let you decide how much, I know the ratio of ice cream to soda is definitely based on one’s personal preference) and then top with the pre-made soda.

Finally, sprinkle your fresh pomegranate arils over top and be sure to serve your floats with both a straw and a spoon for maximum enjoyment.

All you need to enjoy these easy and delicious Pomegranate Soda Ice Cream Floats are a straw and a spoon!

Whether you mix these up today or wait until Labor Day weekend comes around, I’ll bet there will be no dreading going back to school when there are Pomegranate Soda Ice Cream Floats involved!

Pomegranate Soda Ice Cream Floats
Prep Time
10 mins
 

This new take on the classic float features a delicious pomegranate flavor and fresh vanilla ice cream - the perfect way to send off summer!

Course: Dessert, Drinks
Servings: 2 floats
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 cup soda water
  • 2 tablespoons Sonoma Syrup Co. Pomegranate Grenadine Simple Syrup
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Fresh pomegranate arils, for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a large measuring cup, gently stir together the soda water and pomegranate simple syrup.

  2. Fill two large glasses with desired amount of vanilla ice cream. Pour even amounts of pomegranate soda over each mound of ice cream.

  3. Garnish with fresh pomegranate arils and serve with both a straw and a spoon!

Pomegranate Soda Ice Cream Floats | CaliGirlCooking.com

Patriotic Cheesecake Bites

This is a very rare day where we get to call a Monday a Friday. Let’s take full advantage of it with some Patriotic Cheesecake Bites!

The cupcake liners of these Patriotic Cheesecake Bites peel away to reveal three layers of brownie, cheesecake and blueberry compote.

Let’s be real, I’m pretty dang excited to tell you about these little bites of heaven. After all, how often do you get the taste of rich red velvet brownies, creamy cheesecake and refreshing blueberry compote all in the size of a cupcake? Not very often, I’m betting.

I’m not gonna lie, these Patriotic Cheesecake Bites were a labor of love. In fact, I didn’t even attempt to photograph them the first time around because I knew it would be a recipe that needed a lot of refining. Well, I’m happy to say that my hard work paid off, and now I have delicious layered cheesecake bites to tell you all about!

These Patriotic Cheesecake Bites feature three layers of red velvet brownie, cheesecake and blueberry compote. The perfect bite-size festive dessert for 4th of July!

But first, tell me what you all are doing to celebrate 4th of July?? Did you take today off so you could have a four day weekend? Or are you stuck at your desk today madly trying to get things done so you can cut out of work early and TGIF the heck out of Monday?

The hubs and I had a nice relaxing weekend at home, full of lots of time out in the sun enjoying some beach volleyball and, as we do every weekend, cooking up oh so many delicious things! I made cinnamon rolls on Saturday morning and Sunday morning I finished up the cheesecake bites. Last night the hubs smoked up a tri tip after we did a little new car research, since we’re hoping to upgrade before baby comes in October. Right now we’re looking at either a 2017 Subaru Forester (I currently drive a 2010) or Honda Pilot. Any thoughts/input are welcome!!

The cupcake wrappers on these Patriotic Cheesecake Bites peel away to reveal red, white and blue layers of deliciousness!

We also leave for our babymoon in a week and a half (Kauai, here we come!) so unfortunately neither of us was able to take today off of work, but we’re definitely planning on relaxing with some beach time, friends and more delicious food tomorrow. I can hardly wait. I think every week should only be a four-day work week.

Okay, but I digress, and I need to keep this fairly short because I’ve got things to do and relaxing to commence. Let’s talk about these Patriotic Cheesecake Bites.

A big cake stand full of Patriotic Cheesecake Bites. The perfect dessert to celebrate the 4th of July!

They’re a little more time-consuming than just-your-average cupcake, but not nearly as bad as whipping up an entire full-size cheesecake. There are three layers, so three main steps to the process, but none of them takes very long because we’re talking cupcake-size portions.

The first layer is a rich, chocolate-y red velvet brownie. I’m the first to admit that I’m a BIG chocolate-lover, so this layer came out more of a darker red than a bright, vibrant red, but trust me, the extra chocolate flavor is worth it.

The first layer of Patriotic Cheesecake Bites: red velvet brownie!

The second layer is a classic cheesecake, which I based off of my Classic New York-Style Cheesecake I made a while back. The great news is that for these Patriotic Cheesecake Bites we don’t need to worry about the hassle of a water bath, and they cook sooooo much quicker.

The second layer of Patriotic Cheesecake Bites: creamy New York-style cheesecake!

The third and final layer is a fresh blueberry compote. You guys, this is the proverbial “icing on the cake.” I based my recipe off of this one from Martha Stewart, and added in a little gelatin to make sure the compote set enough to eventually peel off the cupcake liners and reveal the festive red, white and blue layers.

The third layer of Patriotic Cheesecake Bites: blueberry compote!

That’s it! So easy. The first time I made these, I tried making them in my mini cheesecake pan, but even with a generous coating of cooking spray they stuck quite a bit and were hard to pop out. The next time around, I decided to go with a classic cupcake pan with liners (I used these fun Fourth of July ones from Amazon!) and that turned out to be soooo much easier. If you don’t want things to get too messy, you can serve the bites right in the wrappers, or if you want people to really see why you call these “Patriotic Cheesecake Bites,” peel off the papers to reveal the surprise.

These Patriotic Cheesecake Bites are the perfect fun, festive dessert for Fourth of July!

So what do you think? Have I motivated you yet to try these out tomorrow? Better yet, get them started and into the refrigerator tonight, and you won’t have to spend any time in the kitchen tomorrow. More time to enjoy sunshine and good friends!

This post contains affiliate links.

Patriotic Cheesecake Bites
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

These individually-sized festive bites feature layers of red velvet brownie, classic cheesecake and blueberry compote to make the perfect treat for the Fourth of July!

Course: Dessert
Servings: 2 dozen
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the red velvet brownie layer:
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red food coloring
  • 1/4 teaspoon white vinegar
For the cheesecake layer:
  • 8 ounces regular cream cheese
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
For the blueberry compote layer:
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line 2 dozen cupcake tins with cupcake liners.

  2. First, make the brownie layer. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. 

  3. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Add this mixture to the butter mixture and beat until combined. 

  4. Beat in the food coloring and vinegar.

  5. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the brownie batter into each of the cupcake tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven to cool slightly, leaving oven heated to 350 degrees for baking the next layer.

  6. Next, make the cheesecake layer. In a clean stand mixer bowl, beat together the cream cheeses, sugar and eggs. 

  7. Add the flour, vanilla extract, sour cream, lemon zest and salt and beat until combined.

  8. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of the cheesecake batter in the cupcake tins on top of the red velvet brownie layer. Return cupcake pans to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until cheesecake is set and not jiggly, Remove and let cool while you make the third layer.

  9. For the blueberry compote, combine all ingredients except the gelatin in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the blueberries break down and a gel-ish liquid forms, about 8-10 minutes. 

  10. Turn off the heat and stir in the gelatin. Let sit for 5 minutes, then scoop 1 tablespoon of the blueberry compote over each of the cheesecake bites.

  11. Refrigerate cheesecake bites at least 2 hours or overnight. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. You can serve them in their cupcake wrappers or remove the papers to reveal the patriotic layers. 

Patriotic Cheesecake Bites | CaliGirlCooking.com