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lemon cheesecake bars

Before you get too excited, this is non-alcoholic. Sorry. But, for what it lacks in bubbly, it makes up in some sweet sophistication.

When you get stuck with the “just bring a dessert” task for a party, you’re faced with a dilemma: You’re not the main entree, so gathering complements about your cooking skills probably isn’t going to happen…but, then again, you’re not the salad girl either–lost somewhere in the middle of a potluck party–you’re dessert, you bring up the rear, cap the party, top off the fun…you’ve still got some pretty big shoes to fill, so, what do you bring?

  • #1.) You could go all out: original recipe, linked with a “this has been in my family for … years” story and gain so many props you don’t know what to do with yourself. Ok, so that isn’t always an option.
  • #2.) You still want to impress, but have no such family legacy nor the time to begin your own, so you scramble through pages and pages of Google results looking for something new. This is a slightly dangerous option because it’s untested, but you’re feeling gutsy. Ok, no, who rates these things? I don’t have time to fail and figure out a fix.
  • #3.) Give up: go for the total-store-bought-its-so-obvious-I-didn’t-give-this-party-the-priority-it-deserved option. No, no, no, I’m not that desperate.
  • #4.) Half-homemade, slightly customized, not “just brownies,” saves time, tastes fabulous, party-props assured with little time devoted. Yes, please. Score:
Lemon Cheesecake Cocktail

If you chose option number four like I did for my New Year’s Eve party, you’re in luck, you picked a winner. Start out with Krusteaz Lemon Bars box mix:

lemon barsFollow the directions on the back for the slightly customized, lemon cheesecake version of the too-obvious-I’m-from-a-box recipe, and instead of baking the bars in a 8X8 pan, spoon them into muffin tins so they emerge in perfectly portioned, round cakes. Once they’ve cooled, plop three scoops of vanilla ice cream into a wide-mouthed wine glass, place one lemon bar on top, top that with a little swirl of whipped cream and lemon zest and you’ve got something that no one would ever guess started with a box.

lemon cheesecake cocktail

lemon cheesecake cocktail

lemon cheesecake cocktailNever underestimate the power of presentation to turn your “quick dessert” into something looking like a family heirloom. Wine-glasses aren’t just for wine, box-desserts aren’t just for the creatively-challenged, and “just bring a dessert” can very quickly turn into “who brought this dessert!” I’ve taken these bars to numerous office-parties and every time I evade the “I want this recipe!” demands, ashamed because my reply must be: “um, its on the back of the Krusteaz box.” But I’m coming clean, dressing it up a bit, and presenting to you this slightly homemade, completely sophisticated, lemon cheesecake cocktail.

– ❤ A. 

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