First off, I sincerely apologize for not blogging in such a long time. The end of my junior year in high school was...well - INSANE. But now it's summer! And all my hard work was totally worth it. Now I am officially a senior!
You wanna know what I'm pumped about the most for this summer? BAKING! So my first post of the summer is this absolutely incredible recipe for cookie dough cheesecake bars. Oh my goodness, are they something magical. These scrumptious treats are the perfect combination of cheesecake and chocolate chip cookie dough. Can you even think of a more amazing pairing? I sure can't. I brought a full pan of these to a cross country party and they literally vanished before I could even blink. I guess you could say my parents were more than a little disappointed that I came home with an empty tray...
The recipe begins with a fool-proof, classic graham cracker crust. Above the crust lies another perfect, creamy layer of luscious cheesecake, wonderfully vanilla-y and delicious. Last but not least, my personal favorite layer is at the top: the cookie dough. Ahh cookie dough....my love...buttery and brown-sugary and studded with chocolate chips....can you say YUM??? This cookie dough is egg-less, so it's safe to eat (yes, by the spoonful if you wish). Together, the three layers form this heavenly dessert that you won't be able to resist.
Yield: about 12 bars
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chocolate chips
10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil allowing a little overhang and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Mix the melted butter, cinnamon, and graham cracker crumbs until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 6 minutes. Remove pan to a cooling rack. Leave your oven on while you prepare the dough.
3. While the crust is cooling, prepare the chocolate chip cookie dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt and vanilla until smooth and thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Mix in the flour on low speed, and mix until just incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips. Set aside. (Note: if the cookie dough looks a little dry, it's fine. It will be crumbled on top of the cheesecake layer.)
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla on low speed just until incorporated. Pour the cheesecake batter into the prepared crust. Use your hands to form "clumps" of the cookie dough, smoosh it together and flatten it out. Distribute the cookie dough onto the top of the cheesecake batter in teaspoon-sized clumps. Be sure to use all of the dough.
5. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the top feels dry and firm (the cookie dough) and the entire pan looks set if given a gentle shake. Move bars to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Chill in refrigerator overnight or for at least a couple hours.
6. Lift the bars out by the overhang and cut into squares for serving.
**Note: these taste best at room temperature.