Guys, this week is just too much. Last week, everyone was all, “yayyyyyy Labor Day and next week will be great because it’s a 4-day week” but we were all idiots who collectively forgot about Beach Withdrawals. The symptoms of Beach Withdrawals include: smelling sunscreen in a cubicle, an overwhelming desire to read a light (ehrm, trashy) book, and caffeine-resistant afternoon sleepiness (particularly the kind of sleepy that involves open mouths and lolling tongues). My name is Leighto-Greato, and I have Beach Withdrawals.
But all diseases have one great perk. Don’t look at me like I’m a sicko — you all remember the girl from college who looked awesome after she had mono. The great perk of Beach Withdrawals is the ancillary symptom of Calorie Freedom. If you don’t get to wear a bathing suit until next spring, you at least get to eat like you don’t have to wear a bathing suit until next spring. And besides, indulging in Calorie Freedom generally softens the blow of the other Beach Withdrawals symptoms. (Or, at least, if you’re smelling cookie bars, you won’t imagine smelling sunscreen because duh, literally nothing smells better than cookie bars.)
To that end, allow me to I introduce chocolate chip cheesecake bars. They’re like normal cheesecake bars, but they have a chocolate chip cookie crust instead of a graham cracker crust. They are total mind exploders — that buttery crunchiness of a perfect chocolate chip cookie, topped with the creamy decadence of a cheesecake bar. Oh, and they freeze well. So you can make a batch and wrap up half of it* and save it for that creeping seasonal disorder: Holiday Anxiety.
- ½ c. butter (1 stick), softened
- 1 c. granulated sugar
- ¼ c. brown sugar
- 1 t. vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 1⅛ c. all purpose flour
- ½ t. baking soda
- ½ t. salt
- 1 c. chocolate chips (1/2 bag)
- 2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together butter, ½ c. granulated sugar, brown sugar, and ½ t. vanilla extract with a hand or stand mixer. Add 2 eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each egg. In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt (WHO NEEDS SIFTING?! NOT US. As long as you whisk. Isn't that neat?) Add the flour to the wet ingredients in three batches, mixing until just combined between each addition. Keep the mixing as light as you can -- the more you mix, the more gluten will develop and the tougher your cookie will be. Once the flour mix has all been combined with the butter/sugar mix, fold in the chocolate chips.
- These are just the basic instructions to make a half batch of chocolate chip cookies. If you want to make a whole batch and just use half for this -- and say, maybe, freeze the other half -- that would be brilliant. And it also happens to be what I did. Just line a cookie sheet with wax paper and drop out the cookies as if you are going to bake them. Then, instead of going in the oven, put them in the freezer. Once they have dried out and frozen, you can pluck them off the baking sheet and store them in a bag for 3 months or so in the freezer. Then just bake them off as you want them. Warm chocolate chip cookies whenever you want them -- is there a better way to welcome fall?
- Spray a 9 x 13 cake pan with non-stick spray. Spread the cookie dough mix in an even layer on the bottom of the pan. This will become your cheesecake crust. Bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned on the edges and top -- the key here is to get the cookie to set enough that you can spread the cream cheese over it, but not so much that the cookie will burn when it goes back in the oven. Keep an eye on it -- once you get light browning in the middle, it's done.
- While the cookie is in the oven, mix up the cheesecake bars. Literally, just mix them up. Using a hand- or stand-mixer, combine the cream cheese, remaining eggs (2), remaining vanilla (1/2 t.) and remaining sugar (1/2 c.) until combined. Once the cookie crust is set and out of the oven, spread the cheesecake batter in an even layer over the cookie layer.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or so, until the bars are lightly browned on top and set in the middle. Serve warm or out of the fridge.
*To wrap this up and freeze it, I cut the leftover bars into four big chunks, individually double-wrapped each one in saran wrap, smooshed out all the air, and then put the saran-wrapped bundles in a freezer bag. Easy, peasey, right?