On April 8, when I shared the recipe for the Huckleberry Slump served at Anthony’s at Spokane Falls, I dropped a mention of my favorite huckleberry dessert, the Huckleberry Cheese Squares my grandmother made.
Not so fast, readers Bev Varcoe and Laura Borhauer wrote in separate e-mails. Would I be willing to share?
Absolutely. These treats, which can be topped with any berry but traditionally have been served with huckleberries in my family, are a simple little snack. Think cheesecake, only thinner and cut into bars.
A graham-cracker crust is pressed into a 9-inch square pan, topped with a cream cheese mixture and baked. It then is topped with a sweetened berry mixture and chilled until set.
Slice. Serve. Heaven.
I’m not sure where my grandmother, Alice Lamberson, first got this recipe, which I remember enjoying as a youngster in her North Spokane kitchen. I do know that the original calls for oleo, an old-school term for margarine.
It also called for canned blueberries, with the syrup reserved. I’ve only used fresh or frozen berries, and I don’t think the syrup is needed. But if you want to use canned berries, add the reserved syrup slowly to the pan containing berries, sugar, cornstarch and salt, then cook until the topping is thickened.
If you opt to use frozen berries, I’d thaw them most of the way and reserve any juices. Feel free to adjust the sugar level to taste.
Berry Cheese Squares
1/4 cup margarine or butter
2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup sugar
8 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
12 ounces berries, fresh, or if frozen, mostly defrosted with any juice reserved
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Whipped cream, if desired
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter or margarine. Combine graham cracker crumbs and powdered sugar in a bowl. Add melted butter or margarine and combine. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch square baking dish and set aside.
In another bowl, combine the cheese layer ingredients and beat until smooth. Pour over crust and bake for 20 minutes, or until the center is set.
In a saucepan, crush 1/4 cup of the berries. Add sugar, cornstarch and salt. Blend well. Gradually add any remaining juices and cook over low heat until thickened.
Remove from heat and stir in remaining berries and lemon juice. Spread berry topping over cheesecake and chill until set, about 2 hours. Cut into squares and top with whipped cream, if desired.
Yield: 12 servings.