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Cheesecake Bars

Smooth, creamy, and indulgent vanilla Cheesecake Bars with a thick, sweet graham cracker crust. Plus, suggestions for how to top your bars -- add a few berries, a simple berry sauce, caramel sauce, or caramelized sugar topping -- all these ideas are outlined in the post. Enjoy!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cheesecake bars
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Chilling Time 8 hours
Total Time 9 hours
Servings 16 bars (1 (8x8-inch pan)
Calories 244kcal
Author Chelsea, cheesecake adapted from King Arthur Flour
Cost $7.82

Equipment

  • 8x8-inch baking pan
  • Parchment paper and nonstick cooking spray

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 1 and 1/4 cups (140g) graham cracker crumbs (about 9 graham crackers; measure the crumbs!)
  • 5 tablespoons (70g) unsalted butter melted
  • 1/3 cup (65g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the Filling

  • 2 packages (8 ounces EACH) full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (210g) white granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (16g) white all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (50g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (OR 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste)
  • 1 large lemon (1 teaspoon EACH: zest and juice), optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Optional Toppings: berry sauce (Note 1), fresh berries, caramel sauce, etc. -- see blogpost for more ideas!

Instructions

  • PREP: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and place the oven rack in the middle position. Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper (leaving enough overhang to pull out the bars) and lightly spray with cooking spray. Melt butter and set aside to slightly cool to room temperature.
  • CRUST: In a medium-sized bowl, add the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, brown sugar, and salt. Stir until completely combined and then press the crust firmly and evenly into the prepared pan. (I like to compress the crust with the bottom of a flat measuring cup.) Bake the crust for 10 minutes, remove and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
  • CHEESECAKE: In a large bowl, combine the ROOM TEMPERATURE cream cheese, sugar, and flour. Using a hand mixer, beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Don't overbeat, beat at high speed, or beat in opposite directions. (Beat in a constant circle going the same way.) Use a spatula to scrape the edges and then add in the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and salt. Beat on low speed until it's *just* combined and smooth, being careful to not overmix. Again, beat the mixture in a constant circle going the same direction.
  • BAKE: Use a spatula to scrape every bit of the batter into the slightly cooled crust. Smooth the top in one even layer. Bake for 37-43 minutes at 325 degrees or until the filling is set but ever-so-slightly jiggly in the center. (The cheesecake will continue to cook as it cools.) After the bars are baked, turn off the oven, open the oven door and let the cheesecake stand in the open oven for 30 minutes. (We're slowly reducing their temperature to reduce the risk of cracks!) After 30 minutes, transfer the Cheesecake Bars to a wire cooling rack. After 1 hour, cover tightly and refrigerate until the bars are completely chilled throughout, 6-8 hours.
  • CUT: Use the overhang to lift the Cheesecake Bars out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Cut into squares and serve with the berry sauce or refrigerate (without sauce added) until ready to serve. To get clean slices, run a knife under hot water for a few seconds, wipe to dry, make 1 slice, and repeat.

Video

Notes

Note 1: Optional berry sauce:
  • 2 packages (16 oz. EACH) frozen triple berry medley, slightly thawed
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • Pour just over 2/3 of each bag of (slightly thawed) frozen berries into a medium pot. Store the rest of the berries in a small bowl in the fridge.
  • To the pot, add in lemon juice and sugar and bring the berries to a very gentle boil over medium heat. Cook the berries until they are very syrupy, about 4-6 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the berries to slightly cool and then transfer to a blender; pulse the berries to get a smooth puree.
  • Pass that puree through a fine-mesh strainer and use the back of a wooden spoon to push the mixture through. (You should just be left with seeds in the strainer, and that's what you'll discard.)
  • When ready to serve this sauce over the Cheesecake Bars, stir the reserved berries into that smooth sauce and spoon right on top of the bars. You want to top the bars RIGHT before eating, so if you won't be eating it immediately, store the berry sauce in the fridge separately.
Nutrition information is for the Cheesecake Bars only--not any of the optional toppings.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 244kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 412mg | Potassium: 140mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 204IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 129mg | Iron: 1mg