I’m so glad I remedied that with these.
They combine so many of my favorite dessert elements in one including a buttery, brown sugar and graham cracker crust.
I adore graham cracker crusts, and it truly makes these bars.
This crust is definitely crunchy, but it didn’t crumble or fall apart, which I find is often the case with graham cracker crusts.
For the filling I got away with using light cream cheese. It’s a little counterproductive to use light cream cheese right along with a stick of butter and gobs of peanut butter, but hey, at least the recipe has been tested with light cream cheese and it works. Using light cream cheese can be a gamble, but you’re safe here.
Feel free to use full-fat if you prefer extra cardio.
If you’re a cheesecake purist, you can omit the swirls, but I like the break up the visual monotony with swirls and of course, they taste so good. Or use your favorite jam or Nutella swirls.
The beauty of these bars is that they can be made in one bowl, and there’s no need to wash it between the layers, which isn’t often the case with layered bars and there’s umpteen dirty bowls for one pan of bars.
Nor do you have to drag out a mixer, another time-saver.
Not having to mess around with making a real cheesecake, baking it in a water bath, or dealing with possible cracks, is even better. I just can’t be bothered with all that.
The bars are fast and easy, just the way I like my desserts.
They’re also rich, decadent, and comforting. The graham cracker crust adds texture and crunch, a wonderful counterbalance to the smooth, dense, cheesecake layer.
The cream cheese is tangy, the peanut butter is a tiny bit salty, and the crust is so buttery, with notes of caramel from the brown sugar that caramelizes while baking.
I won’t wait another year-plus before making more cheesecake bars after indulging in these.
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- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- pinch salt, optional and to taste
- 1 large egg
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature and very soft (light is okay)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- heaping 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter, melted for swirling
- Preheat over to 350F. Line an 8×8-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
- In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.
- Add all remaining crust ingredients and mix with a fork to combine.
- Turn loose crumbs out into prepared pan and using a spatula, pack mixture firmly into pan in an even, smooth, flat layer; set pan aside.
- In the same mixing bowl (no need to wash it), combine all filling ingredients except peanut butter, and whisk until smooth and combined, or beat with an electric mixer if preferred. The softer the cream cheese is, the easier the filling comes together.
- Pour filling over crust; set pan aside.
- In the same mixing bowl (no need to wash it), melt the peanut butter, about 1 minute on high power.
- Drizzle peanut butter over batter to create swirls. To create the marbled pattern shown, drizzle peanut butter over batter in 5 wide, evenly spaced, parallel lines, each spanning the length of the pan. Like 5 rows of long train tracks. Rotate pan 90-degrees. With a toothpick, starting at the top of the pan, “draw” 5 evenly spaced lines through the peanut butter. You’re dragging the toothpick perpendicularly through the first set of lines to create the marbling.
- Bake for about 35 minutes, or until center is set with very little jiggle; some looseness and a very slight jiggle is okay, but there should be not sloshing in the center. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out mostly clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. Allow bars to cool in pan for about 1 hour before lifting out with foil overhang and slicing; however, I prefer to serve these bars chilled. Cover the pan with foil to prevent fridge smells, and refrigerate mostly cooled bars for at least 2 hours, or overnight or until bars have chilled completely, before slicing and serving.
- Bars will keep airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. I prefer to store them in the fridge and serve them slightly chilled.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 291Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 55mgSodium: 147mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 1gSugar: 22gProtein: 4g
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What’s your favorite cream cheese or cheesecake recipe?