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Cheesecake Squares to Ruin You for All Other Rhubarb Desserts

Cheesecake Squares to Ruin You for All Other Rhubarb Desserts

Topping cheesecake with shimmering fruit is nothing new, but we spun this one in two fresh directions: We swapped out the expected cherries for ruby-red rhubarb-raspberry gelee, and we baked the whole thing in a 9-by-13-inch pan — perfect for serving a crowd. It begins with a traditional press-in graham-cracker crust; the layer of creamy filling bakes through quickly and evenly without the usual requisite water bath.

Related: 14 New, Lighter Comfort Food Ideas

1 stick unsalted butter, melted, plus more, room temperature, for pan
18 graham-cracker sheets
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of coarse salt
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
5 stalks trimmed and halved lengthwise, the rest chopped (about 1 3/4 cups)
6 ounces fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 packet (1/4 ounce) unflavored powdered gelatin

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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan; line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on long sides. Pulse graham crackers and 2 tablespoons sugar in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a bowl; stir in melted butter.

2. Press crumbs into bottom of pan. Bake crust until firm, about 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Reduce oven to 325 degrees.

3. Beat cream cheese and sour cream on medium until smooth. Beat in 3/4 cup sugar, then beat in vanilla and salt. Add eggs and beat until smooth, scraping down bowl as needed. Pour mixture into crust; smooth top. Bake until just set, 25 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely. Chill until firm, 1 hour.

4. Meanwhile, bring chopped rhubarb, raspberries, 1/4 cup sugar, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup water to a simmer, covered, in a small pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, just until rhubarb is softened, about 10 minutes. Pass mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing gently on solids. Skim foam from top of liquid (you should have a little more than 1 cup; add water, if needed).

5. Bring 4 cups water and remaining 1 cup sugar to a boil in a large straight-sided skillet, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to low; add rhubarb stalks (in 2 batches, if necessary). Simmer until slightly soft, 2 to 3 minutes. With 2 spatulas, carefully transfer stalks to a paper-towel-lined rimmed baking sheet; let drain.

6. Arrange 4 rhubarb strips in a parallel fashion on cooled cheesecake, spacing evenly. Cut remaining strips in half lengthwise and fit in empty spaces.

7. Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup water; let soften 1 minute. Reheat raspberry syrup until simmering. Stir in gelatin until dissolved; gently pour over rhubarb strips. Refrigerate cake until set, at least 2 hours and preferably overnight.

8. Cut into pieces, using a sawing motion to slice through rhubarb layer; wipe knife between cuts.

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