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Valentine's Day is right around the corner and I wanted to celebrate my mom with these strawberry cheesecake bars and a goodies basket. It's nice to be able to take the opportunity to show your love and appreciation to family and friends on Valentine's Day. Don't get me wrong, I do plenty for my hubby as well. Did you know our anniversary is February 3rd. It's like a double love whammy this month.
My favorite part of these bars is the strawberry jam stuffed into the center. It adds the perfect pop of color and tastes fantastic sandwiched between shortbread and cheesecake. The M&M's® give a nice pop of chocolate/strawberry flavor. The chocolate really stands out as little as there may be of it because of the all the strawberry flavor that's already in the bars.
I had to climb a mountain of candy at Walmart, but I got that beautiful deep red DOVE® tin packed full of chocolates. It's trying my will power to have it sitting in front of me because I love DOVE® chocolates so much, but I'll resist just so I can give it to my sweet, sweet mama. You're welcome, mom!
I also was able to pick up a thoughtful card for my mom and one for a good blogger friend. American Greetings® has some really adorable Valentine's Day cards. Cards from the fur babies, single's awareness day, for the spouse, you name it and they have it.
I also made chocolate covered strawberries and raspberry flavored chocolates. Come back later this week or next to find those on the blog.
Strawberry Cheesecake Bars
- Preheat oven 350 degrees. Spray a 8x8 square pan with non-stick cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Leave an overhang of parchment paper on two sides of the pan for handles to remove the bars later on.
- In a large mixing bowl, add in the butter and sugar. Mix until light and fluffy.
- Add in the vanilla and flour and mix until a sandy blend forms. It form a dough ball, but if you grab up the mixture and press it together it will combine and form a ball.
- Dump shortbread mixture into the prepared pan and press until the shortbread is packed into the pan and even.
- Place into the oven and let it bake for 17 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Set aside and let cool while you make the cheesecake topping.
- Reduce the heat of the oven to 325 degrees.
- Add ½ a cup of strawberry jam into the mixing bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds to loosen it up.
- Stir the jam to help break it up.
- Add the cream cheese in with the jam. Mix with a hand mixer on medium until combined.
- Add in the sugar, vanilla and egg. Mix until everything is thoroughly incorporated.
- Stir in the festive sprinkles.
- Spread ½ cup of strawberry jam on top of the partially cooked shortbread. Be sure to go to all of the edges and corners with it.
- Pour the cheesecake batter on top jam and carefully spread to all the corners and edges.
- Place the M&M's® on top of the cheesecake batter. They will sink in slightly.
- Place into the 325 degree oven and bake for 20 - 22 minutes until the cheesecake is set.
- Let the bars come to room temperature on the counter. Place into the fridge to chill overnight.
- Cut and serve.