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Strawberry-Balsamic Cheesecake Bars

Today's recipe comes to us from culinary pro and regularVital Choices contributor Teri Tsang Barrett.
She's former Senior Food Editor of “Every Day with Rachel Ray” magazine, and a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education.
Teri's sweet-and-tangy bars make good use of our premium-quality organic strawberries, flash frozen within hours of harvest.

About the author
Writer, recipe developer, and culinary consultant Teri Tsang Barrett is a graduate of UC Berkeley and the Institute of Culinary Education.
She was most recently the senior food editor at Every Day with Rachael Ray and has also worked in the test kitchen of The Martha Stewart Show and the music department of Rolling Stone.
Teri's also contributed to Woman's Day, Budget Living, SOMA,, The Book L.A., and
Strawberry-Balsamic Cheesecake Bars
Makes 18 bars
Organic oil or cooking spray
15 graham cracker sheets (about 8 ounces)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
10 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar plus ¾ cup sugar
Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese
One 8-ounce container mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon sea salt
3 large eggs
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly coat or spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with oil, then line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang.

  • Using a food processor, chop the graham crackers and almonds to make fine crumbs, scraping down the sides as needed, then pulse in the lemon zest. With the machine on, drizzle in the melted butter and process until the crumbs clump together.

  • Spread the crumbs in an even layer in the prepared pan, using a flat-bottomed glass to firmly pack the crumbs together. Place in the oven and bake until fragrant and just beginning to brown, about 15 min; let cool completely. Lower the oven temperature to 325 F.

  • In a medium pot, spread the thawed strawberries in a single layer and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar and the balsamic vinegar. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally and covered for the first few minutes, until the berries are fork tender and the juices have released and thickened, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely, about 20 minutes. Using a food processor, puree the mixture and set aside.  

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together at medium speed the cream cheese and mascarpone until combined, then mix in the remaining ¾ cup sugar, the vanilla and salt. Beat in the eggs, scraping down the sides as needed. Fold in ½ cup of the pureed berries; pour onto the crust and spread evenly. Spoon the remaining berries on top and swirl decoratively using a skewer. Bake, turning halfway through, until just set, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly in the pan set on a baking rack. Refrigerate until chilled and firm, about 3 hours or overnight. Cut into eighteen 2-inch squares. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

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