For the Crust:
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
For the Cheesecake:
16 oz (2 bricks) cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
For the Topping:
Seedless strawberry jam (~1/4 cup)
Canada Day maple leaf quins
1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
2. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving a few inches of foil draping over the sides of the pan (which will help with removal later).
3. Make the crust: Whisk the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, flour, and salt. Pour the melted butter over the mixture, and stir together with a fork until all crumbs are moistened. Transfer the mixture into the prepared pan and press evenly to form the crust. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, until crust is beginning to brown. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool for about 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, prepare cheesecake filling. In a large bowl or bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in the sugar until well combined, about 1 minute. Beat in eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each egg into the mixture. Beat in sour cream and vanilla until fully combined, about 30 seconds.
5. Pour mixture over cooled crust and return to oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until edges are set but the middle jiggles slightly (as a whole) when you shake the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Transfer to a refrigerator (I don’t cover mine because I find the cheesecake ‘sweats’) to cool completely, for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.
On the day you will serve the cheesecake bars, use the aluminum foil to lift the cheesecake out of the pan, then slice them into 18 small rectangles (6 columns and 3 rows - see picture below). Stir jam first, then use a small butter knife or spoon to spread strawberry jam on the edges of each rectangle to resemble the Canada flag. Use enough jam so it shows up well but not too much that it will fall off – you’ll get a feel for what amount to use after a couple tries. Place three Canada leaf quins in the center to complete the flag (or if you don’t have any, you could use a blob of jam or red sprinkles if you can shape it into something that resembles a maple leaf!). Keep bars refrigerated until ready to serve. Don’t decorate them more than a day ahead.
Happy Canada Day!