S’Mores Cheescake Bars

what's cooking

Since I recently have not been working as much, I had my girlfriends over for dinner as a late Christmas present. Rather than buying gifts, I cooked for them. For dessert, I winged this S’mores Cheesecake Bar recipe and I was overall happy with the results. I made a couple of tweaks to the recipe to improve it for future use and for you, my dear 5 or 6 readers 🙂

When I made this I used an 8×10 glass pan, but I recommend doing this in an 8×8 square pan instead.

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S’MORES CHEESECAKE BARS

For crust:
12 graham crackers, crushed
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt

For cheesecake and topping:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (1 block)
1 cup marshmallow fluff
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
pinch of salt
1 cup chocolate chips, optionally divided
1 1/2 cups marshmallows (or enough to cover top layer of bars)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease an 8×8 baking pan
  3. Mix graham crackers, butter, sugar, and pinch of salt. Texture should resemble wet sand
  4. Pour cracker mixture into pan. Using wax paper, firmly press it down into one uniform layer on bottom of pan
  5. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool while you prepare filling
  6. Using a hand or stand mixture, beat the cream cheese about one minute. Add marshmallow fluff and sugar and mix until well blended
  7. Add egg, vanilla extract and salt, beat until smooth
  8. Fold in chocolate chips. You may choose to reserve some for the top
  9. Pour batter into pan. Add layer of marshmallows on top, enough to fully cover the mixture
  10. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheesecake is set, but do not over bake
  11. Marshmallows should have a golden brown color. For a deeper, toastier look, switch your oven to the broiler setting and brown marshmallows for approximately one minute. You may do this with the door open so you may monitor and pull the pan before marshmallows burn
  12. Remove from oven. While still hot, you may add extra chocolate chips on top, if desired
  13.   Allow bars to cool before cutting. You may also refrigerate for up to a week

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

what's cooking

My boyfriend just celebrated his birthday this past week. Like many men, getting an answer out of him in terms of what he wanted for a birthday cake and what he wanted to do to celebrate his birthday was like pulling teeth. Through a painful text message conversation, I narrowed down that he’s not a big cake person, is anti fruit flavored cakes, not a big ice cream fan, likes cheesecake, and said that anything that combines chocolate with peanut butter is good.

So I narrowed it down to a chocolate peanut butter cheesecake. I brainstormed some ideas – peanut butter flavored cheesecake with fudge, peanut butter cheesecake with peanut butter and chocolate swirl, cheesecake with peanut butter cups, etc. The only thing I was certain was that it would have an Oreo crust, as opposed to graham cracker or another type of cookie.

In recent months, I have become a fan of the mini peanut butter cups, the ones that are a bit larger in size than an M&M. It came to me that it would be fun to fold those into cheesecake, almost like chocolate chips, and in lieu of chopping up full sized peanut butter cups. So finally I had the cake narrowed down – vanilla flavored cheesecake with an Oreo crust, mini Reese’s mixed in, the top decorated with hot fudge and full sized peanut butter cups. Since, you know, nothing says love as much as making the most fattening cake imaginable.

And of course in doing so, everyone wanted the recipe, so here you go…

PEANUT BUTTER CUP CHEESECAKE

For the filling:
3 8-ounce blocks cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 bag Reese’s Minis

For the crust:
20-24 Oreo cookies, crushed fine in a food processor
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

For topping:
1/2 cup hot fudge, room temperature or warmed slightly
About 8 full sized Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, cut in half

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 9-inch spring form pan with a bit of cooking spray.
  3. Combine crushed Oreos, melted butter and sugar until well blended. Press mixture evenly into pan, both on bottom and about halfway up the sides of the pan. Bake about 10 minutes. Remove and cool. Lower oven temp to 325 degrees.
  4. Meanwhile, using a hand mixer, mix cream cheese and sugar until well incorporated. Add eggs and mix in thoroughly. Then blend in sour cream and vanilla.
  5. Fold in mini peanut butter cups. Add filling to pan with cooled crust, and bake for about 50 minutes to one hour. Top of cheesecake will crack slightly. Cheesecake is done when you can dip a toothpick in the center and it comes out mostly clean (do not over bake – if top of cheesecake is golden brown, it is overdone).
  6. Remove cheesecake from oven and allow to cool at room temperature for one hour. At this time, you can evenly spread the fudge in the center to decorate. After the hour, place the cheesecake in the refrigerator and chill for a minimum of three hours, up to overnight.
  7. When the cheesecake is cooled, decorate with the full sized peanut butter cups. Carefully remove from spring form pan and transfer to a plate – enjoy!

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Quick Cheesecake Brownies

Whenever I want to bring a homemade-esque dessert to an event and I want to do it in a pinch, I revert back to semi-homemade tactics and make cheesecake brownies. They are ridiculously easy, versatile, and best of all, taste phenomenal.

Now the reason I say semi-homemade is because I prefer boxed brownie mix over making brownies from scratch. Not to say that brownies from scratch are difficult, but for some reason I have always preferred the taste of Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines in my mouth (that’s what she said, anyone?). Plus, we’re talking about doing stuff in a pinch.

To make the browines, you follow the recipe on the box as indicated. Pour the batter in your pan, and set aside, do not bake immediately.

For the cheesecake topping you’ll need:

  • One 8 ounce block or container cream cheese, softened
  • One cup sugar
  • One egg
  • A teaspoon or two of vanilla
  • OPTIONAL – Your desired flavoring or coloring – a liqueur, food dye if you’re feeling festive, syrup such as butterscotch, etc.

Cream the sugar and cream cheese with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer until smooth. Mix in egg, vanilla, and optional flavorings. Spread the mixture over your brownie batter. You may either marble topping in swirling around with a knife, or you can smooth it on top to keep it a separate layer. Bake according to brownie package directions. It’s that easy!

An example of green cheesecake brownies I made for a Jets-themed party. All it took was a few drops of green food coloring in the cheesecake mixture.



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