Desserts in jars are all the rage these days, from baked cakes to panna cotta and other sweets you eat with a spoon. I admit I’m a sucker for sweets served in wide-mouthed shallow Mason jars, and I finally gave in and bought a bunch just to make strawberry-rhubarb cheesecakes in. (What better use of those brand new stalks of rhubarb just coming out of the ground?) These make me want to have a big ol’ Martha-style backyard picnic, perhaps in my farmhouse in Maine, on an old, long, rustic dining table set out in a picturesque field. I may have to settle for my couch.
These are also, by the way, fantastic for lunch boxes. (Kids are still in school here in Canada until the end of June! And grown-ups take lunch to work, too.) And perfect for large parties – easy to serve by stacking them, lidded, on a table, with a glass full of spoons for guests to serve themselves.
Measurements are pretty lax here – use as much as you like, with this formula as a guideline. They would also be divine with sweetened blueberries, simmered cherries or peaches – anything you’d serve atop a plain cheesecake.
Strawberry-Rhubarb Cheesecake in a Jar
1/2 cup graham crumbs (option: make them rustic and chunky by hand-bashing graham crackers)
1 8 oz (250 mL) pkg cream cheese or mascarpone
1/4 cup powdered sugar, or to taste
2 Tbsp cream
a drop of vanilla
strawberry-rhubarb compote (below) or other fruit filling
4 wide-mouthed short Mason jars
Sprinkle some graham crackers into the bottom of each jar. In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, cream and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy.
Drop a large spoonful of the cream cheese mixture into each jar, then run a soup spoon under cold water and use it to spread it evenly over the graham cracker crumbs. (See photo, above.) Add a spoonful of compote or other fruit preserves, then another spoonful of the cream cheese mixture, spreading it again with a wet spoon.
Top with a dollop of fruit, with a sprig of mint if you like. Screw on the lids and store in the fridge until you need them. Serve with spoons. Makes 4 cheesecakes.
Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote: simmer 2-3 stalks of chopped rhubarb with about 1/4 cup strawberry jam until the rhubarb softens and the mixture has the texture of soft jam. Cool, then refrigerate until well chilled.