hello from a quick little trip to chicago! eggboy and i are chillin in the suburbs like the suburban human i used to be, complete with long picnic-y evenings spent at ravinia and later evenings spent at the steak n shake. i like being here this time of year, when everything is sprinkled with basil from mum's garden and we can sit outside with our morning iced coffees and hole-in-the-middles while george and gracie roll in the grass. tomorrow we're going to my friend's new mezcaleria and the next day i'm...*wait for it* going to australia!
i'm so excited! and a little cold just thinking about it because my sources are telling me that it snowed in sydney last week...??? but that actually makes me really happy because i like wearing my new brightly colored patagonia fleece at all hours of the day. do you have any sydney recs??
today i've got some little cheesecake bars for you that are perfect for a picnic (or a non-picnic. or whatever doesn't fall into the categories of picnic or non-picnic...). they've got two magic ingredients: aged havarti and thyme, which, as i learned at cheese school last month, pair beautifully together. i'm using a similar recipe here to my mini parmesan cheesecakes since aged havarti is a tiny bit like a tangier, creamier parmesan. i love how sharp it is and it lends a great little salty snap to these cheesecake bars, while the thyme makes for a pretty green sprinkle-ish situation! and it's a stylish garnish accessory. i'm using castello's awesome aged havarti and pairing these with napa cellars' zinfandel because the only thing better than a wine and cheese party is a wine and cheesecake party, amirght?
with this recipe, you can go the bar route (pictured), or make little cupcakes, or make a standard round cheesecake. also please take note of the crust-to-filling ratio, which is just barely 1 : 1. i am proud of this.
aged havarti and thyme cheesecake bars
makes 16 bars
18 large rectangles (that is, 36 squares, or 2 full pouches, or just under 10 oz) of graham crackers
a good pinch of kosher salt
10 tb unsalted butter, melted
2 tb flour
1/3 c sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 c shredded castello aged havarti (found in the deli section of the store!)
1 tb fresh thyme leaves
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
15 oz whole milk ricotta
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
honey for drizzling
preheat oven to 375 f. line an 8" square pan with parchment and set aside.
in a food processor, process the living daylights out of your graham crackers. add the salt and process a little more. we want a nice fine crumb. with the processor running, drizzle in the melted butter and process for a few seconds until the mixture clumps together. pour the mixture into your tin and press it down firmly and evenly.
set the tin in the fridge while you make the filling.
to make the filling, you're gonna use your food processor again. don't worry about cleaning it out, it just has butter and graham cracker residue in it and that is ok.
add the flour, sugar, salt, havarti, thyme, and lemon zest and pulse it a few times to combine everything and break up the havarti. add the ricotta, lemon juice, and vanilla, and process it until smooth. two minutes-ish.
with the processor running, add the eggs one at a time, processing a bit after each one.
pour the mixture into your tins. and bake for 30 minutes, until the outer edges are set but the center is still a little jiggly. turn the oven off, open it about halfway, and let it be for about 45 minutes. remove from the oven and let completely at room temperature. cover and chill for an hour or two, or overnight.
cut into bars. drizzle with honey and sprinkle with fresh thyme and enjoy!
these will keep in the fridge for up to a week.