A buttery rich chocolate crumble pastry that tastes like the most scrumptious chocolate shortbread cookies, a cheesecake filling that rivals any New York Style Cheesecake and a homemade or prepared tart cherry pie filling makes one of the most irresistible crumble bars ever. Our Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Crumble Bars recipe is easy and ideal for serving a crowd. Drizzle White Chocolate Glaze on top for an extra-special plated dessert. Perfect for Valentine’s Day or any day! Recipe includes gluten free option.
Happy Valentine’s Day, my friends! I hope you all have a fabulous celebration tomorrow—whether it be staying in to share a special dinner or going out for a treat.
When I think of Valentine’s Day and sweet treats, I immediately think of chocolate (or cocoa), cherries and cheesecake…all ingredients in our recipe for Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Crumble Bars.
At this time of year, I think of…
Chocolate because I remember fondly the little red heart-shaped boxes of chocolates we kids would receive and how my dad would present to my mom a humongous heart-shaped box filled with chocolates for Valentine’s Day that she would share with us kids.
Cherries because the dessert treat we were often served as kids for Valentine’s Day was a hot fudge sundae with Sanders Hot Fudge Topping and a maraschino cherry on top. Also, I was fascinated as to just how chocolate covered cherries were made and how that tantalizing liquid center got in there! When I got older, in junior high school, I wanted to make my own and found an article in our local newspaper featuring a recipe (using fondant and patience of course) to make them at home. Oh joy, rapture. Y’all know by now how much I adore cherries, right? 😉
Cheesecake because the other dessert treat we were often served as kids for Valentine’s Day was cheesecake and mom always served it with cherry pie filling on top (if she didn’t serve us store bought Sara Lee® with strawberries on top). If cherries were in season in February, mom would have made her Homemade Tart Cherry Pie Filling. There are those cherries again!
Speaking of cherries, a little side note.
Check out my new favicon at the top left in your browser bar. I am so happy to finally have this set of cherries there! It is the set I first had my heart set on, but another food blogger (sweet Brenda) had them as part of her blog’s design at the time. She has since gone through a redesign (sticking with cherries again, very fashionably), so I am delighted to finally have them. (Hooray!) Originally, I had the cherries that are in my blog’s button (found in my right side bar) as my favicon. However, when reduced down to size, they looked like dingle berries and a small flag. Yuck. Not the look I wanted for Wicked Good Kitchen! So, my blog designer and I settled on a cupcake with a cherry on top to use as a temporary favicon until we found a suitable set of cherries. I never did like the cupcake because it was just too cutesy for my tastes and it didn’t fit my blog’s theme well.
Speaking of blog design work, it is what has been keeping me extremely busy these past couple weeks and why you have only seen one recipe per week instead of two (or more). My blog designer and I are working on a few behind-the-scenes projects that have been taking up my time considerably. (Read: Loads of emails back and forth.)
Another thing happened this week. I had a terrible allergic reaction earlier in the week, which put me even further behind than I had anticipated. I love Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour (I buy mine from my local Williams-Sonoma) and recommend it highly in my gluten free recipes that I thoroughly test. In fact, I tested this recipe earlier this week with C4C. As always, it passed my “rubber meets the road” recipe testing with flying colors. Cup4Cup is a phenomenal gluten free flour blend. However, I remembered about the starches derived from corn in the canned cherry pie filling I used so I had planned to taste-test around it. However, I totally forgot that cornstarch is used in C4C as a major ingredient! In fact, it is listed first in the ingredients list. Yikes. I wasn’t even thinking. Let me tell you…you do not want to see me looking as red as a garden beet! Not pretty.
For those of you who do not know, last spring I developed a severe allergy to the food additive maltodextrin (made from corn) that was in my favorite brand of so-called “pure” stevia extract, which was not listed on the product label. (The company has since remedied this dreadful oversight with a new label.) It was a total nightmare and we couldn’t figure out why I was so sick. Now, I am allergic to anything made from corn (due to the mold content). Since I went into recurrent anaphylactic shock last spring and summer, my body’s cells remember the offending allergen (it’s called “cell memory”) and I now react whenever I ingest even trace amounts of mold—even in fruit like bananas and citrus or in peanut butter or wine for instance.
The good news is that I am getting better by the day by boosting my immune system. Food allergies can be overcome. So please forgive me for not engaging in social media this past week or if I have not yet visited your blog, answered your email or replied to your messages yet! I promise that I will very soon.
Meanwhile, today I am pleased to share with you my recipe for Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Crumble Bars, which I could have easily called Black Forest Cheesecake Crumble Bars. But, there’s just something about the term “cherry cheesecake” that has a ring to it thus making it a bit more special—especially when it comes to Valentine’s Day.
Remember me sharing how I sometimes would add a ribbon of cheesecake to my Cherry Pie Crumble Bars? In that post, I wrote, “I’ve even made these bars with a ribbon of cheesecake for an extra indulgent crumble bar.” Well, this is that bar but made chocolaty for Valentine’s Day.
Truthfully, this recipe has been knocking around in my head for quite some time and I had such fun developing it for y’all. After testing the crust and crumble part for this Chocolate Crumble Bar version, by replacing some of the flour with cocoa, I decided that whisking a tablespoon of oil into the beaten egg and extracts was the ideal way to easily enhance and incorporate chocolate flavor following the step of cutting the butter into the flour mixture.
Why is this ideal? First, incorporating melted chocolate into biscuit type dough is somewhat difficult. By whisking the cocoa powder into the dry ingredients, our chocolate flavor gets distributed evenly. By the time you would work melted chocolate into the dough, it would be overworked and the gluten developed to the point that these chocolate crumb bars would lose their cookie-like texture and become chewy. This is not what we want in a crumble bar.
Second, when you work with unsweetened cocoa powder, since it is essentially pure chocolate or “chocolate liquor” (not to be confused with chocolate liqueur) without the natural occurring fat found in chocolate, adding almond oil (or your favorite vegetable oil) replaces the missing fat thereby making the situation similar to using melted chocolate but without the mixing difficulty—which was my goal.
Finally, I did not want a cocoa based crumble and crust pastry that was dry (not enough fat), looked grayish in color and lacked in the flavor department (not enough cocoa). The decision to use 6 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa and adding oil along with it in this recipe, 1 teaspoon of oil per 2 tablespoons of cocoa, paid off in spades. My friends, just look at that irresistible chocolaty crumble!
Cocoa powder packs a powerful chocolate punch flavor wise. This is why I add cocoa powder in addition to melted chocolate in Wicked Good Kitchen’s recipe for Wicked Black Magic Brownies (bourbon brownies). When you desire chocolate for your sweet fix, you really want deep chocolate flavor!
Even Cook’s Illustrated confirms that cocoa powder provides exceptional chocolate flavor.
Per Cook’s Illustrated, and “Concept 50” from their cookbook, The Science of Good Cooking, “Cocoa powder delivers big flavor.”
With respect to brownies, CI states:
“Brownies are a tricky business: Homemade recipes have better all-natural flavor, while boxed mixes have a chewier texture. We wanted the best of both worlds: chewy, ultra-chocolaty brownies. It turns out that fat is the key. Boxed mixes rely on a highly processed shortening powder that’s high in unsaturated fat. Our classic brownie recipe, which yields a tender, cakelike crumb, uses butter and melted chocolate, both high in saturated fat. For chocolaty Chewy Brownies, we balance butter with vegetable oil (the latter being an unsaturated fat). To simplify the calculations in our version and amp up the deep, rich chocolate flavor without adding back chocolate’s saturated fat, we use cocoa powder, which is flavor-rich and fat-poor.”
And, in general when it comes to chocolate desserts, CI states the following:
“Chocolate desserts can look dark and decadent, but all too often you take a bite and the flavor is actually pretty wimpy. This might be because an insufficient amount of chocolate was used. But just as often the culprit is the type of chocolate, not the amount.”
Per CI, this is how they rank our choices of ingredients when making chocolaty desserts:
Cocoa Powder has a high ratio of cocoa solids, which are responsible for BIG chocolate flavor.
Unsweetened Chocolate contains more fat crystals than cocoa powder, and therefore less flavor.
Bittersweet Chocolate contains less cocoa solids, and many more fat crystals and sugar, giving the least chocolate flavor.
Our Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Crumble Bars truly make the perfect Valentine’s Day treat if you are a lover of chocolate, cherries and/or cheesecake.
What makes our Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Crumble Bars wicked good?
As mentioned above, the buttery rich chocolate crumble pastry tastes just like the most scrumptious chocolate shortbread cookies thanks to using unsweetened cocoa powder to provide the chocolaty flavor boost. The cheesecake filling is rich and ample but not dry or too egg-y. By using only one egg, sweetening just right and flavoring with both freshly squeezed lemon juice and pure vanilla extract, this cheesecake filling rivals the best in New York Style Cheesecakes making our Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Crumble Bars truly shine.
In addition, homemade or fine-quality prepared tart cherry pie filling, when paired with our rich cheesecake filling, makes for the most incredibly scrumptious crumble bars ever. We provide a gluten free option as well.
To elevate this dessert for a special plated presentation, drizzle with our easy to prepare White Chocolate Glaze—just perfect for Valentine’s Day! What’s not to love?
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Below are Pinterest-friendly sized images to pin at Pinterest!
- For the Crust & Crumble Top Pastry
- 3 cups (375 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal®
- 6 tablespoons (36 grams) sifted unsweetened cocoa, such as Pernigotti®
- 1¼ cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
- 1¼ teaspoons (6 grams) baking powder
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon (3.6 to 4.8 grams) kosher salt, or ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1¼ cups (2½ sticks/282.5 grams) unsalted butter, chilled & cut into bits
- 1 large egg (mine weighed 52 grams w/o shell), lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon (14 grams) organic almond oil, or favorite vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract, such as Nielsen-Massey®
- ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) pure almond extract, such as Nielsen-Massey®
- Softened butter, to prepare pan
- For the Cheesecake Filling
- 3 (8-ounce/226-gram) packages cream cheese, such as Philadelphia®, softened
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg (mine weighed 52 grams w/o shells)
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract, such as Nielsen-Massey®
- For the Tart Cherry Filling
- 4 cups (2 pints/1080 grams) Homemade Tart Cherry Pie Filling, recipe by Wicked Good Kitchen™
- 2 (21-ounce/595-gram) cans tart cherry pie filling
- For the Optional White Chocolate Glaze
- ¾ cup (4½ ounces/128 grams) white chocolate chips, such as Guittard® Choc-Au-Lait™ Chips
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) heavy cream
- ¾ cup (94 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- Special Supplies
- Aluminum foil, for lining baking pan
Tips:For Gluten-Free Option: Substitute 3 cups (384 grams) Cup4Cup (C4C) Gluten-Free Flour, available at Williams-Sonoma, or your favorite gluten-free flour blend measured cup for cup or by grams in place of the all-purpose wheat flour called for in the recipe. Choc-Au-Lait white chocolate morsels by Guittard® are made of all natural ingredients and are made in a gluten free facility, so rest assured they are safe to use in this gluten-free recipe option. Finally, Wicked Good Kitchen’s Homemade Tart Cherry Pie Filling recipe is naturally gluten free. To Cut Bars Into Even Squares: For evenly cut squares, cool bars for 2 hours on wire rack. Then, chill in refrigerator for at least 3 to 4 hours, preferably overnight. Remove from pan using foil at sides of pan as “handles”. Transfer to large cutting board. Carefully cut into even squares using a ruler as a guide with a sharp chef’s knife peeling away foil as you go. For Nice Clean-Cut Bars: Use a sharp knife (I like to use my large chef’s knife) and run it under very hot water from the kitchen sink tap. Then, very carefully (be careful!) wipe the knife dry with a kitchen towel just before making each cut with a clean, hot knife. This way, you will always have nice, cleanly sliced cheesecake bars. Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Total time does not include cooling and chilling times. Recipe Adaptation: White Chocolate Glaze adapted from Crunchy Creamy Sweet. Original Recipe Source: WickedGoodKitchen.com Copyright © Wicked Good Kitchen. All content and images are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words. Alternatively, link back to this post for the recipe.