Well, I’m on a dessert kick. If you ask my husband, he’d tell you I rarely crave sweets, and that I’d take a batch of lightly-salted homemade popcorn over those cult-favorite miniature Cadbury eggs. However, this week, I’ve made a coconut custard pie, these creamy, versatile vanilla cheesecake bars, and a batch of marmalade oat crumble bars. And, we’ve yet to get to the gym this week. And we’ve been eating lots of pasta and carbs.
Note to self: Must. Get. To. Gym. ASAP. (Or else I’ll soon be blogging about weight-loss, diets, cowering to Jillian Michaels DVDs, etc.)
So the first dessert I’m going to share with you is the vanilla cheesecake bars I made yesterday. I’d been craving a slice of cheesecake this week, so naturally I searched on the oh-so-addictive Pinterest and found this simple recipe. You can do much with vanilla cheesecake! It’s truly like a blank canvas with so much promise, just awaiting some flair. I’ve enjoyed a square (or three) in its plain, uncomplicated vanilla-y goodness, but these would also be delicious with fresh berries (as pictured), a compote, a drizzle of chocolate ganache…oh, the possibilities are endless.
If you’re used to rich, heavy cheesecakes, you’ll find that this one is a bit lighter. In this case, “lighter” should not be confused with “not as good as the original” because it still maintains a great, semi-dense consistency that you’d expect from baked cheesecakes. I also prefer the shortbread-like crust of these bars instead of the typical, crumb-y (and crummy…bleh) graham cracker crust.
(adapted from BakeorBreak.com)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup half & half
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
To make the crust:
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9″x 13″ baking pan.
Beat butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed to low, and gradually add flour and salt until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes.
To make the filling:
Place cream cheese, sugar, and half & half in the bowl of a stand mixer or a food processor. Mix until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the mixture, or add extract if using. Add flour. Mix or pulse until smooth.
Pour filling over partially baked crust. Bake for 22-24 minutes, or until the filling is set. Refrigerate until ready to cut into bars and serve.