These pomegranate cheesecake bars are so good. Okay it’s really damn good and won me a blue ribbon last year in a baking competition.  I discovered the original recipe from Better Homes and Gardens. They used raspberries in it but since then I’ve also made it with blueberries and blackberries…you can check out that post here. The basic recipe is like a blank cheesecake canvas just waiting for something to be swirled through it. You could add melted chocolate, caramel, crushed cookies or fruit purees – they’re all fair game. I’d do a fruit puree before solid pieces of fruit, though – you can trap more flavor in a puree than in a piece of chopped fruit. I’m thinking some kind of roasted strawberry basil combination next time. This all sits on top of a crunchy brown sugar shortbread base. Seriously, this is easy to make and so tasty!

So yeah the bar is good, I already mentioned that, but the syrup…we need to have a chat about the syrup. It started out with a bunch of pomegranate seeds, they partied with some red wine, balsamic glaze and brown sugar and 55 minutes later I was gifted with a thick, rich extract. It’s sweet but not crazy sugar sweet and you can easily taste the balsamic and wine (duly noted by my seven year old). Don’t get rid of the seeds when the liquid has been reduced, either. It’s a nice surprise after working through the creamy cheesecake to get those little crunchy nuggets. Pomegranates seeds aren’t the most easy things to capture, so let’s give a big shout out to whoever had the idea of selling them already seeded – genius, I love you! The reduction worked perfectly in the goat cheese bar, but would also be outrageous on a roasted pork loin or on top of a turkey burger.

If you have a saint’s patience and can let the bar rest overnight in the fridge, do it. It’ll cut so much better the next day and the flavors will be all zen-like. Dust with some powdered sugar…the end.

Recipe for Pomegranate Goat Cheese Bars with Red Wine Balsamic Syrup: Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens.

For the pomegranate syrup reduction-
Prep Time- 5 minutes    Cook Time- 45 minutes    Yield- About one cup 
1 cup pomegranate seeds
2 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon balsamic glaze, use glaze and not balsamic vinegar. Glaze is thicker and less pungent.
1 cup red wine (Cabernet) 
Place all the ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 45 minutes or until there’s about three teaspoons syrup as well as the pomegranate seeds, let cool.
For the goat cheese bar-
Prep Time- 10 minutes    Bake Time- 20-25 minutes    Yield- 12 squares
1 cup unsalted butter cut into one inch chunks
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all purpose flour
4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
4 ounces goat chevre cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1 Tablespoon flour
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 Tablespoon lemon zest
2 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar for dusting on top
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13 x 9 inch baking tray with foil and set aside.
Beat the butter in a stand mixer until soft. Add the brown sugar and mix until fluffy, Add the salt and the flour and mix on low, scraping down once or twice. Mix on low until the dough comes together and is no longer dry or crumbly.
Place the dough into the baking tray and using your hand, push the dough out towards the edge of the tray making it as level as possible. Pat flat and place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes and golden brown.
Once the base has cooled, using a pastry brush paint a very light coating of the syrup/seed mixture onto the base. In the stand mixer beat the cream cheese and the goat cheese until smooth.
Add the sugar and the flour to the cheese and mix until combined. Add the egg and egg yolk, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla. Mix on low scraping down at least once until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Pour the cheesecake mixture over the base making sure it’s level. Take a teaspoon and drop spoonfuls of the reduction mixture randomly over the cheesecake. You can drizzle the syrup and use as much as you like.
Place into the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until no longer jiggly in the center. It will firm up a bit as it cools.

Can be eaten after it cools but is best kept in the fridge overnight and served the next day. Dust well with powdered sugar just before serving.