Lately, I have been coming up with new and creative ways to use up some things that have been lurking in my freezer. I really need the freezer space right now; as I talked about in my last post, I am on a baking spree and I freeze whatever I make in anticipation of the holidays. However, I've been baking faster than I've been removing stuff to make from the freezer. It's not good! So over the weekend I pulled out a bag of mixed berries and set out to find a decent recipe to use them in.
I'm happy to tell you, this Mixed Berry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake is more than decent. It's pretty amazing, actually! I found a cream cheese coffee cake that solely used blueberries over on Food.com, but I knew I could most likely use my mixed berries instead and it would be fine. My husband had just mentioned last week or so that he tried a sample of cream cheese coffee cake at our local grocery store and fell in love. I wasn't really familiar with this concept, but I was totally on board!
This recipe is interesting because you actually make up the coffee cake batter, then fold in cubes of cream cheese along with the berries. I think it would work fine if you added the cream cheese, softened, to the rest of the wet ingredients when you're mixing them up. It would make the batter very creamy and luxurious, and I think it would be awesome. However, this time I tried it out the way it was written, just to see how it would work out.
The final verdict was divided at my house. One of my kids loved it, the other did not. My husband and I both loved the coffee cake, but I felt like the pockets of cream cheese inside were a bit distracting. He, on the other hand, really loved the cream cheese as a separate addition into the mix, and wouldn't have changed a thing. I provided my version of this recipe below, because I changed up a couple of the ingredients and rewrote the instructions to make them a little bit clearer. Just beware: one square of this cake is very filling, so it'll feed a crowd!
Mixed Berry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
adapted from Food.com
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup softened, unsalted butter, plus 2 Tbsp. cold, cubed butter, divided
1/2 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
2 cups assorted berries, fresh or frozen (I used frozen)
8 oz. cream cheese, cubed (I used Neufchatel)
2 tsp. fresh lemon zest, divided
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cream together 1 1/4 cups of the sugar and 1/2 cup of the butter until light and fluffy, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix well after each addition. Add vanilla, and beat until combined.
2. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together 2 cups of the flour with the baking powder and the salt. Add the flour mixture in two additions to the butter mixture, alternating with one addition of the milk.
3. Toss the mixed berries with 1/4 cup of the flour, then fold them into the batter. Gently mix in the cubed cream cheese and 1 tsp. of the lemon zest. Pour the batter into a greased and floured 9x13 baking pan.
4. In a small bowl, combine the remainng 1/4 cup sugar, the 1/4 cup flour, and the 1 tsp. lemon zest. Cut in the 2 Tbsp. cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle mixture evenly over batter.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cut into squares and serve, preferably warm. The cake keeps in the fridge for about 3 or 4 days. Just reheat individual servings before enjoying!