These Cherry Ricotta Bars sort of came about by accident. I recently had a Sam’s-sized container of blueberries I was trying to use up. So, I searched websites for blueberry dessert bars, and found a cooking video by Cooking with Manuela for blueberry ricotta bars. That, in turn, inspired me to buy this big ol’ container of ricotta cheese. But, as some of you may know, I made blueberry margaritas a few days ago, and so in the interim used up all of those blueberries. Poor planning, I know, but I still had some fresh cherries left in a Sam’s-sized container! I figured, what the hell, and so substituted the fresh cherries for the blueberries.
Honestly, I think the tanginess of the cherries might even suit this dessert better than blueberries! No question, though, that pitting cherries is messy. I used the end of a chopstick to pit my cherries, holding the stem end of the cherry against the cutting board and pushing down with the chopstick through the middle of the cherry alongside the pit. Again, not very neat, but it gets the job done. If you have a cherry pitter, all the better.
A few tips for better Cherry Ricotta Bars: (1) You don’t have to neatly pit your cherries, because you’re going to roughly chop them to about 1/4th of their original size anyway; (2) Don’t overcook this dessert–it is okay if it appears slightly underdone in the middle at the end of the cooktime, because it will continue to cook some after you pull it from the oven; and (3) the consistency and taste of these Cherry Ricotta Bars is better the day after they are baked, as is often the case with bar desserts.
Be sure to add the lemon zest when making the crust mixture. The juice of the lemon will be added to the cheese mixture. I think you could use the juice of just half a lemon, and it would still be good.
These Cherry Ricotta Bars are “lemon pound cake meets cheese cake meets fresh cherries.”
These Cherry Ricotta Bars are quite elegant when cut and served, but they would make a great potluck dessert brought in the dish as well.
A note about Manuela’s recipe that I adapted: her video ingredients are slightly different from her printed recipe. I think my version works perfectly. Here’s the recipe for my Cherry Ricotta Bars:
- For the cake crust:
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup of sugar
- ¾ stick of butter, softened
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- zest of one lemon
- ⅛ teaspoon of salt
- 1½ cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- For the cheese filling:
- 24 ounces (1 and ½ lb) of ricotta cheese
- ½ cup of sugar
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- juice of one lemon (or juice of just ½ lemon would be good too)
- For the topping:
- About 2 cups of pitted fresh cherries, roughly chopped.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, with an electric hand mixer, mix the sugar with the eggs until well blended.
- Add the softened butter and blend well.
- Blend in the rest of the ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla extract, and lemon zest.
- Butter a 9 x 12 or 9 X 13 inch baking pan, and then lightly flour.
- Pour the cake mixture in the pan, and flatten it as well as you can with a spoon.
- In another bowl, with a hand mixer, blend together all the remaining ingredients for the cheese filling, except the cherries.
- Pour the cheese mixture on top of the cake layer of the cake and smooth it flat.
- Sprinkle with the chopped cherries.
- Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.
- Cool and then refrigerate covered for a few hours or overnight.
Cherry Ricotta Bars: Enjoy!
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