- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) brick-style cream cheese, very well-softened (lite okay)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup strawberry jam or preserves
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
To a large, microwave-safe bowl add the butter and heat on high power to melt, about 1 minute.
Wait momentarily before adding the egg so you don’t scramble it. Add the egg, brown sugar, vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
Add the flour, salt, and stir until just combined, don’t overmix.
Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula; set aside.
To a medium bowl, add the cream cheese, granulated sugar, and beat on high-speed with a handheld electric mixer (or whisk vigorously by hand) until smooth and combined, about 1 minute.
Turn the cream cheese mixture out into the prepared pan and using a knife or spatula, form an even, smooth, flat layer.
Add the jam in small dollops distributed evenly over the pan (just eyeball 1/3 cup) and then using a spatula or knife, spread and swirl the jam into the cream cheese.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until done. The edges should be set and while the center will be glossy and a bit loose, it should still be set to an extent and not overly jiggly. The toothpick test is unreliable because the bars will be done but the moist cream cheese layer will make the toothpick look wet. Bars firm up as they cool. Allow bars to cool in pan for at least 3 hours before slicing and serving. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months. I’m comfortable storing desserts baked with cream cheese at room temp but if you’re not, store in the fridge, noting the fridge has a tendency to dry things out.