Ube Cheesecake Bars

A confession: I almost shed a tear when I used up the last of my ube jam for this cheesecake recipe. But one bite, and I knew it was worth it.

The ube jam is vivid purple, dark and dense, so thick that one tablespoon feels hefty. It’s creamy and tastes subtly nutty, perfectly complementing sweet cheesecake.

Ube jam, or halaya, is purple yam jam. It’s made with boiled and mashed ube, condensed milk, coconut milk, sugar, and butter. Even though it’s called “jam,” it’s not really jam, but more like a very thick pudding. It’s closer in texture to heavy mashed potatoes, but on the opposite end of the spectrum in taste. It’s dessert, or breakfast, or snack, or main ingredient.

I’ve written about my love for all things ube before, and admit that one of my favorite treats from the Philippines is a jar of ube jam. My parents brought several containers of ube jam last month, and I’ve rationed my precious portions out very carefully.

These cheesecake bars are incredibly easy to make, and combines two of my very favorite things in the world: cheesecake and ube. Yes, I used pre-made ube jam, but you can make your own if you are so inclined (I suggest this recipe or this).

I made simple cheesecake bars – so simple, you only need one bowl, and you don’t need a bain-marie (water bath) nor a springform pan. Then I topped it with ube jam. Baked till set, till the ube jam turned an even deeper purple, then chilled, cut into bars, devoured.

I tried another recipe where I folded in ube jam into the cheesecake filling, and spread a thinner layer of ube jam on top (instead of the thick, uneven dollops I have here). And while it did look prettier – the cheesecake turned out to be a light lavender color – the dessert tasted neither like cheesecake nor ube. So I went with this recipe, where each bar is unmistakably cheesecake, topped with swirls of ube jam, unapolgetic in how thick it is and unpretty.

This was one of the best desserts I’ve made, and even my cheesecake-averse husband gobbled up a bar or two. I loved combining cheesecake with ube jam, and I can’t wait to stock up again on my beloved ube jam and make another batch of these bars.

Yield: 16 bars

Ube Cheesecake Bars

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients

Crust

1 1/2 cups finely ground graham crackers
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, melted

Filling

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Topping

1 cup ube jam

 

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Make the crust. Mix graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a medium bowl. Add melted butter; stir until coated. Transfer crumb mixture to an 8x8 baking pan (I lined mine with parchment paper and lightly buttered it). Press evenly onto bottom of pan.
  3. Make the filling. Combine cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix well until smooth and creamy (I used a hand mixer but you can also do this manually, just be prepared to get an arm workout). Spread batter evenly over crust.
  4. Make the ube swirl. (You can heat the ube jam first in the microwave for 30-60 seconds to make it more spreadable.) Ube jam is thick so just do the best you can. Make five thick parallel lines of ube on top of the cream cheese filling. Lightly run knife across the lines perpendicularly, letting the ube jam drag across to form swirls. You can also just dollop the ube jam in random spots on top :)
  5. Bake for 40 minutes. Cool completely before serving. I recommend chilling in fridge or freezer first before cutting into 16 squares.

For the ube jam, I used Good Shepherd brand from the Philippines. Ube jam is typically available at Filipino grocery stores. But if you would like to make your own, I recommend this simple recipe from Jun Blog.

If you would like other cheesecake recipes, I recommend Salted Caramel Turtle Cheesecake, Coconut Cheesecake, Dulce de Leche Cheesecake, No Bake Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars, and Mini No Bake Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Roasted Cherries.

   

12 Responses to “Ube Cheesecake Bars”

  1. #
    1
    Sues posted August 28, 2017 at 8:20 am

    I’ve never heard of ube jam before, but I love both the sound and the look of it! These are so pretty :)

    • Bianca Garcia replied August 28th, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      Thank you! Ube in general is a great flavor, kinda like white chocolate with a mild nutty (pistachio-y) taste :)

  2. #
    2
    dixya @food, pleasure, and health posted August 28, 2017 at 10:35 am

    i have never heard of ube but the way you described it, i will be looking out for a jar at an Asian store here.

    • Bianca Garcia replied August 28th, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      Yes, I hope you find it!

  3. #
    3
    Kristen posted August 29, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    I always want to try ube everytime you write about it! these look fantastic.

    • Bianca Garcia replied August 30th, 2017 at 10:24 am

      Thanks! I hope ube will find its way to the Boston scene soon!

  4. #
    4
    grace posted August 30, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    what a great way to finish off your jam! these are as beautiful as they must be tasty. :)

  5. #
    5
    Nicole @ Young, Broke and Hungy posted August 31, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    There is a restaurant in Seattle that serves Ube Cheesecake and its so dang good! I’m gonna have to try this recipe for a homemade version.

  6. #
    6
    Monica posted September 1, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    Oh my – I know I would love this ube jam! I am glad you put it to a very worthy use. These cheesecake bars look totally amazing. Now I need to find myself some ube jam!! (PS – love your vintage plates!)

  7. #
    7
    Molly Galler posted September 5, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    “My husband.” The best!

  8. #
    8
    Jim Andrews posted October 3, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    Is it possible for you to share the recipe in which you folded in the ube jam into the cheesecake filling? That sounds like what I am looking for!

    • Bianca Garcia replied October 3rd, 2017 at 4:19 pm

      Hi Jim, thanks for the note! You’ll need a total of 1 1/3 cup ube jam if you want to mix it with the cheesecake filling.

      When you’re at step 3 (making the filling), follow as is and once the mixture is smooth and creamy, add in 1 cup ube jam. If your ube jam is on the thinner side, you can fold it into the filling until well-incorporated. If your ube jam is on the thicker side, you might need to use the hand mixer to get it more evenly distributed (or be prepared to exert a little more manual effort).

      For step 4, instead of making the ube swirl, just spread a thin layer of ube on top, about 1/3 cup. If you need to thin out your ube, you can try microwaving with a little bit (2 teaspoons) water.

      Baking time remains the same. Good luck!

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