bars

I’ve been doing a lot of baking lately with my friend Jeannette.  Jeannette lives in Texas, and I’ve never met her in “real life,” but I still consider her a great friend and I always have a blast chatting with her via Twitter as we mess around in our respective kitchens.  Usually when we decide to bake something together, we go back and forth for a while trying to come up with a recipe we’re both interested in and for which we both have all of the ingredients in our pantries.  There was none of that with these cheesecake chocolate chip cookie bars; we were both immediately on the same page about how good they sounded – maybe not terribly surprising, could you really go wrong with cheesecake and chocolate chip cookies in one dessert?  The bars are made with ingredients you’re likely to have on hand most of the time too, which makes them especially dangerous.       

bars

This dessert is essentially a chocolate chip cookie bar with a layer of cheesecake in the middle, and it’s just as tasty as it sounds.  The bars are a little tricky to assemble, but in a really fun way.  Half of the cookie dough is pressed into the bottom of the pan, the cheesecake mixture is poured over the top and then the remaining cookie dough is shaped into discs and scattered over the cheesecake (I explained this more fully below and included a photo that should help).  In the oven, the cookie dough spreads and puffs, covering most of the cheesecake, leaving just enough visible to give the top a bit of a marbled look.  The bars are stored in the fridge and they’re deliciously chewy when chilled.  Another fun baking project for Jeanette and I, and though she hasn’t posted hers yet, I think she was just as big a fan as me.     

Cheesecake Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
from Heat Oven to 350 (who adapted from King Arthur Flour and Jill)

{I know some people don’t like to use shortening and I do plan to try this recipe using all butter at some point – I’ll update this post with my results after I do.}

Cookie Dough
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Cheesecake
8 oz (1 block) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Spray a 13×9 pan with cooking spray.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, shortening, both sugars, vanilla, salt and vinegar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  Beat in the egg until well combined.  With the mixer on low, add the baking soda and flour and beat just until incorporated.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Press half of the dough into an even layer over the bottom of the prepared pan (I found it easiest to use my fingers to do that).  Set aside the other half of the dough.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium until smooth and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the sugar, egg and vanilla and beat just until incorporated. (I rinsed the bowl of my stand mixer & used it here but you could also do this with a hand mixer in another bowl if you’d rather.)

Pour the cream cheese mixture over the cookie dough layer in the bottom of the pan and spread to the edges.  Use the second half of the cookie dough (that you set aside earlier) to top the cream cheese.  The easiest way to do that is to grab pieces and flatten them into discs between your hands then place them around the cream cheese layer.  You don’t have to cover the cream cheese layer completely (you can see what mine looked like here).

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is brown and cooked through (the bars will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan slightly).  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool to room temperature then store in the refrigerator.