These cheesecake bars are dense and creamy, topped with a sweet berry and red wine sauce for the perfect late summer / early autumn dessert done in under one hour.
One of my favorite ways to celebrate the things that I love, is to make food that represents it. I have done Scoopski Potatoes from one of my favorite tv shows, recreated Breakfast for Dinner in honor of my favorite superhero property, and now I am celebrating my favorite musician: Taylor Swift.
Taylor Swift is that singer that I never get tired of. I can play one of her albums on a loop for the entire day without tiring of her voice or her storytelling through music. She is always on when I’m driving or cooking, or when I’m having a bad day and need to drown in angst.
When Taylor released her 8th studio album, Folklore, as a surprise in July 2020, she upended my plans for months to come. I didn’t want to listen to anything that wasn’t Folklore, and to this day, find myself in a Folklore mood at least once a week.
August is my favorite song ever made – just the way she sings “You weren’t mine to lose” rips at my heart every time. And “August sipped away like a bottle of wine” brings all the late summer feelings to my heart, captured perfectly in the flavor of red wine and blackberries.
So in honor of the best singer/songwriter of my generation, I created dense and creamy Red Wine Berry Cheesecake Bars, topped with the a sweet and tart red wine berry sauce.
What do I need to make Red Wine Berry Cheesecake Bars?
- Cream cheese. Because this is the main flavor and most important ingredients, I always recommend getting the highest quality, and not the whipped stuff. Blocks of cream cheese.
- Granulated sugar.
- A tiny bit of lemon zest and lemon juice.
- Vanilla extract.
- Sour cream.
- A bit of flour.
- Graham cracker crumbs. You can crush actual graham crackers, or just skip that step completely and buy the crumbs, like I do.
- Melted butter.
- Blackberries and blueberries.
- Sweet red wine – whatever brand is your preference.
- Corn starch.
- A food processor or blender. This is necessary to fully puree the red wine and berry sauce.
- A mesh strainer. This is to get out all the seeds from the berries.
How do I make cheesecake bars?
Cheesecake bars, in my opinion, are much better to make than actual cheesecake because they come with all of the flavor and none of the fuss.
We can start off with the graham cracker crust. In a small bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter until it resembles the texture of wet sand. Spread out in a prepared baking pan and bake that off for about 5-7 minutes.
The next step is the cream cheese filling. This can be done by hand, but it takes a lot of elbow grease, so I always recommend an electric mixer. Beat the cream cheese and sugar together until it is completely smooth and lump free, and the cream cheese is a much lighter texture.
Add in the eggs one at a time, along with a touch of vanilla extract, lemon juice, and zest. Then add in the sour cream. Mix all of this together until smooth, then add the little bit of flour to the cream cheese mixture. Spread the cheesecake filling over the baked graham cracker crust and bake that all together.
You will want to let the cheesecake cool completely to room temperature on a wire rack before transferring to the fridge. Add the sauce on top right before serving.
How do I make red wine berry sauce?
This red wine and berry sauce is so decadent and delicious, but super easy to make.
Take all your ingredients – berries, red wine, sugar, water, corn starch – and place in a food processor (reserve a few berries as well.) Puree that all up until it is completely smooth and lump-free.
Then you want to push the entire mixture through a mesh strainer – this will remove the seeds. You can keep the seeds if that is your preference, but I think it is much more pleasant without the seeds.
After the mixture has no seeds, transfer it to a small sauce pan, and cook over medium low heat until it has thickened. This will take about 10-15 minutes. Add the berries you reserved to the mixture until those have softened, then transfer your sauce to a bowl to cool. The sauce should be completely cool before topping it on the cheesecake.
Storage and Make Ahead
These can be kept covered in the fridge for up to 5 days. The sauce and bars should be stored separately.
Pretty soon August will slip away into a moment in time, but these are good for all year round.
Graham Cracker Crust
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 16oz cream cheese (2 blocks) softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 3 tbsp all purpose flour
Red Wine Berry Sauce
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 6 oz container blackberries
- 6 oz container blueberries
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 2 tbsp water
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- Red Wine Berry Sauce: Take 5-10 berries each from the blackberries and the blueberries. Set aside.
- Red Wine Berry Sauce: Place remaining berries, red wine, corn starch, water, and sugar in food processor and puree until smooth.
- Red Wine Berry Sauce: Push mixture through a mesh strainer to get out any seeds.
- Red Wine Berry Sauce: Transfer mixture to a small saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Heat until mixture is thickened - this will take about 15 minutes, stirring constantly. Once mixture is thickened, add reserved berries, and cook until whole berries are soft and heated through, but still whole. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
- Graham Cracker Crust: Preheat oven to 350.
- Graham Cracker Crust: Mix together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter until the mixture resembles wet sand. Spread out on a 9x9 baking pan and press down. Bake for 5-7 minutes.
- Cheesecake Filling: With an electric mixer, mix together cream cheese and sugar until completely smooth and cream cheese feels lighter in texture.
- Cheesecake Filling: Add in eggs one at a time, thoroughly mixing in between each. Then add vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
- Cheesecake Filling: Add sour cream. Mix until the batter is completely smooth, then add in flour and mix again.
- Cheesecake Filling: Spread out over graham cracker crust, and bake for 35-40 minutes. The sides should be slightly browned and coming away from the pan, and the center should be somewhat jiggly, but still set.
- Cheesecake Filling: Turn off oven and slightly open oven door to allow cheesecake to cool slowly - this will help prevent cracks.
- Let cheesecake bars cool completely before placing in the fridge to chill.
- Served chilled and top with red wine berry sauce.