Premier Cheesecake Cranberry Bars


My first attempt at this recipe. As part of my holiday baking tradition I like to mix in a new recipe or two each year. This year, I am going for THREE news ones (yes, I picked another one after making that recipe list earlier).

Anyway, here’s me live blogging this adventure. There will be foul language. Lest anyone get the wrong impression – I am NOT a highly skilled baker by ANY means and I’m about to prove it to you.

I wing it all the time. Any good disciplined cook (like my mom) would probably read and re-read the recipe making sure they understand each step that is coming up. Gather all ingredients and measuring implements. Check to see if anything needs to be softened or set at room temperature (oops!).  You know, stuff that folks who haven’t developed adult onset internet/social media ADHD would do.

Well…I started out the day very well. Checked how many sticks of butter I needed and if they should be softened (7 sticks and yes to all).  I set them out in front of their recipe pages nicely in a row. Planned the three recipes I would do and even ordered them properly. Make the jello spritz dough first since it needs to be refrigerated. Then do the ricotta cheese cookies and bake all of them back to back with the jello so that the oven is then free to handle the longer cooking time of the Cranberry Bars (40 mins). That way too, I was completely done with cookie sheets and cooling racks and could clean and move them out of the way.

Those first two were easy – I have done them before, made all the rookie mistakes and now have them down to a routine. So, I was OK not giving them 100% focus. Though, there was the one batch that went into an oven that was turned OFF vs just the timer being turned off since I was on the phone as I was making the transition. Aack! Again though, I know those cookies well enough to be able to figure out how much longer they needed based on how far along they were and you cannot tell which tray they were.

Then I started the bars…..

Premier Cheesecake Cranberry Bars – a Nestle recipe

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups quick or old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups (12 oz pkg) Nestle Premier White Morsels
  • 1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 can (14 oz) Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 can (14 oz) whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 2 tbl cornstarch

HEAT oven to 350. GREASE 13×9 inch baking pan. COMBINE flour, oats and brown sugar in a large bowl. Add butter and mix until crumbly. Stir in morsels. Reserve 2 1/2 cups of mixture for topping.

With floured fingers, press remaining mixture into prepared pan. BEAT cream cheese until creamy. Add condensed milk, lemon juice and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Pour over crust. Combine cranberry sauce and cornstarch in bowl. Spoon over cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle reserved morsel mixture over cranberry mixture. BAKE for 35-40 mins or until center is set. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cover; refrigerate until serving time. Cut into bars. Makes 30 bars.

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So that first step? Where you combine the flour, oats, butter and brown sugar?  THEN add the MORSELS? THEN line the bottom the pan with BARELY ANY OF IT? Well, I had to do that twice. The first time I dilligently measure out the 2 1/2 cups reserve. And that left me with….almost nothing. I sure couldn’t figure out how it would cover the whole pan! But, I spent close to 20 minutes spreading and rolling with my fingers and palm to get that damn thing spread out. And then….I wondered exactly when I am supposed to add the morsels?

Yeah – I made the mixture and pressed it all in without the morsels. $^#&(@*#&@*$^#(*^#$(!!!!

I scraped it up, put it back in the bowl with the reserved amount, added the morsels and said “Fuck it – I am not measuring this reserve again, it all just better FIT!” So I pressed out two small scoops of the mixture with the morsels back into the pan. Part way through I remember I had greased the pan before and maybe scraping out the first batch had removed some of that? Again – “Fuck it!” I truly didn’t care. My fingers were sore from the pressing. So up there is what it looked like and down there is the reserve amount.

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Now, this delay in step one was actually OK. Because you see, I had not quite picked up on the whole Cream Cheese AT ROOM TEMPERATURE! Thankfully I had been using the oven before, so the stove top was fairly warm. Also I messed up step one so…by the time I got around to picking up the cream cheese container from the stove where I had placed it after reading that little detail, it was pretty damn close to room temp. Close enough anyway. By this point I am cranky as you can tell…

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Now here I should also admit that I didn’t quite have enough lemon juice. Again, I had simply checked before I went shopping last night to see IF I had any – not whether or not I had ENOUGH. Lord…also…my lemon juice expiration date is…..12/26/12!! Weee…makes you want a bite of this right? Whatever – I had a hair under a cup and that was going to have to do. Like I said, CRANKY! It looks pretty nice up there anyway. Poured just perfectly over the first layer anyway.

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No drama mixing the cranberry sauce and cornstarch….

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…but there was some drama spooning it out. As you can see – it BARELY..just SORT OF…covered the cream cheese layer. Sigh……

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Sure seems to be a lot of MORSELS on that last layer eh? I have no idea why. And I don’t care!

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Nicely golden brown on the top – I wont be cutting this up for a couple of days so I cannot give you the full report – BUT – after letting it cool on the counter and just before putting it in the ‘fridge I DID sneak a corner spoonful  Which DID (yay!) scoop up easily so that the whole greasing process seems to have held up despite the scraping up of that first layer.

AND? It tasted pretty damn good! In fact, any more lemon juice and I may not have liked it since I usually want to only taste a hint of citrus in my desserts anyway.
I’ll report on how it is properly chilled and set, but despite that goof ups, I like it.
Not sure if I would do it again though – I think folks will have to rave about them first. Cookies are way easier!

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