Rhubarb Cheesecake Bars with Speculoos Cookie Crust

My Mum's Strawberry Rhubarb Pie was a spring staple in our house. Golden crust that would crumble into flaky shards as your fork cut through. Thick, sticky, sweet and sour filling that would ooze onto your plate, waiting to be scraped up with the edge of your fork after you took the last bite

I thought about making Mum's pie (which would have made Sean a very happy man) but something I've been wanting to make for a long time is cheesecake (plus, I kind of suck at pastry).

You see, I've never made a cheesecake before.

Weird, I know.

For me, Spring = RhubarbI love seeing the first stalks at the markets and grocery stores - deep pink ends and bright green tips, fastened together in long bunches, belying any hint of the mouth puckering tartness that's to come. I thought I'd try making a cheesecake with some fresh rhubarb that I bought at the Elmridge Farms stall at the Halifax Seaport Farmer's Market.

After a little online research, I chose THIS RECIPE from allrecipes.com.

I love to look for 5 star recipes on allrecipes.com - they almost always turn out to be fantastic! One thing I really like to do before I make any dish, is read the comments left by other people that have made the recipe, and then decide how I'm going to tweak it accordingly.

For this recipe:

- I baked the cheesecake in an 8x8 Pyrex dish which I lined with parchment paper. I let the paper overhang on each side of the dish, acting as 'handles', so I could lift the cheesecake out when it was cool.

- I chose not to make the crust listed in the recipe. Instead, I made my own crust with a sleeve of Speculoos cookies (about 30 cookies). I zipped them up in my food processor until they were crumbly and then mixed in 1/2C melted butter. Next time I would use 1/4C of butter instead of 1/2C - my crust was more of a paste than a crumbly press in. I pre-baked my crust for 7 minutes. I got my Speculoos cookies at the Bayer's Lake European Farmer's Market.

- I took the advice of a couple of commenters and used 4C of rhubarb instead of 3C. I didn't change the amount of sugar at all.

- Next time I make cheesecake I will let my cream cheese come to room temp or soften it a bit in the microwave. I didn't realize that somewhat cold cream cheese will leave you with lumps. Duly noted.

- I baked my cheesecake in a water bath (placed 8x8 pan in a larger baking dish and using boiled water from the kettle, filled up the bigger dish until the water came about halfway up the sides of the 8x8 dish) for 45 minutes, turned off the oven, and let it sit inside for another 15 minutes without opening the oven door. It was perfectly baked with no cracks! Yay!

- I didn't make the sour cream topping even though I bought sour cream specifically for it - I don't know. I just didn't feel like it. The thing is - the only vanilla in the recipe is in the sour cream topping. Next time, I'd add some vanilla to my cream cheese batter because I kind of felt like the rhubarb cheesecake bars were missing something, but, I shared the bars with a group of friends and every single person loved them.

I would definitely make this recipe again but luckily, rhubarb season isn't over yet, so maybe I'll try my hand at Mum's strawberry rhubarb pie next.