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.
Ube Cheesecake Bars
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
1 1/2 cups finely ground graham crackers
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, melted
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup ube jam
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 :)
- 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.