Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Peppermint cheesecake bars

Still craving peppermint after the holidays? These rich and creamy peppermint cheesecake bars should do the trick. They are much easier to bake than a full-sized cheesecake!
Chocolate and mint is my favorite flavor combination. I go crazy for things like peppermint patties and mint chocolate chip ice cream. When my husband notified me that we still had half a box of Oreo Thins (mint flavored!) in the pantry, I knew that I wanted to turn them into a cheesecake crust. But, I didn't need a full cheesecake.

So I set out to make the next best thing to cheesecake and baked cheesecake bars. They are much easier to bake than a full-sized cheesecake and a lot easier to share with friends.

My cheesecake layer did crack a little bit, but I covered it up with some additional peppermint chips. The cheesecake turned out a little bit softer than I had wanted, but it was still smooth, creamy and utterly divine.

Friends and family devoured these bars in no time, and I was sad that I didn't save more of these bars for ourselves. My husband was skeptical about cheesebake bars initially but he eventually agreed that they were pretty fantastic. Normally, I wouldn't say this, but "I told you so."

Peppermint cheesecake bars
Crust
  • ¾ cup crushed chocolate graham crackers (I used Oreo Thins)
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Filling
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 1 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup crushed peppermint or peppermint chips, plus more for topping (if desired)
Directions
Make the crust: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8" square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Set aside.

In a food processor or blender, crush crackers until fine (alternatively, you can put your crackers in a zip-top bag and crush with a rolling pin). Add melted butter and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand. Transfer the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan and press down with the bottom of a cup or a spatula. Bake in your preheated oven for 7 minutes.

Make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed for about 30 seconds until creamy.

Add sugar until well mixed. Then add the Greek yogurt and mix until it is fully incorporated. Add the peppermint extract, flour and salt and mix. Finally, add in the eggs, one at a time, until everything is well-blended. Do not over mix.

Transfer the cheesecake batter into your pre-baked crust. Shake the pan to release the air bubbles. Bake in your preheated oven for 35 to 38 minutes. The cheesecake portion might still be slightly jiggly, and that is OK.

Turn off the oven, remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool on the counter until it is room temperature. Then transfer the pan to the refrigerator and allow to chill for at least 2 to 4 hours (preferably overnight).

If desired, add crushed peppermints or peppermint chips to the tops of the bars. Make sure the bars are completely chilled before cutting and serving.

Leftover bars should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: One 8"x8" pan; about 16 servings

Source: Adapted from Crunchy Creamy Sweet

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