Cookie dough cheesecake bars
Updated: Nov 13, 2021
A failed chocolate chip shortbread cookie recipe led to the perfect recipe for a "cookie dough" and an incredible partner for my cheesecake bars! I used the same "cookie dough" recipe in my cookie dough brownies and was so excited to try it out in another form.
There are so many delicious layers in this recipe. First there is a graham cracker crust layer. Next, you'll melt chocolate chips and spread them to create a layer of chocolate. Then comes a layer of our "cookie dough" and of course finally the layer of creamy cheesecake with some chocolate chips for good measure!
Though there are lots of layers to be enjoyed here, each part comes together quite quickly. I highly recommend using a stand of hand mixer for the cheesecake, but otherwise there is no fancy equipment needed. After the baking is done and before you slice, you'll place the cheesecake bars into the freezer for about 5-6 hours. Take it from me who tried to slice these after an impatient hour in the freezer...it's well worth the wait! You absolutely can slice it after an hour or two, but the cheesecake layer will be a bit soft. Whenever you do it, be sure to use a sharp knife.
One of the best things about this treat, similar to my gooey vanilla wafer bars, is that they are stored in the freezer. This means they can last for quite a while and are a great bake ahead treat or dessert to keep on hand in case a sweet craving strikes.
A couple of notes on ingredients before we get going. One of the most important parts of this is to have certain ingredients at room temperature - especially the cream cheese for the cheesecake and butter for the cookie dough layer. Both can be softened carefully in the microwave, but I highly recommend instead taking them out of the fridge and allowing them to sit for an hour or two, the butter can remain out for even longer.
Also, if you're anything like me, a long ingredient list always makes me a bit weary. Though the list may look long because of the different layers, I promise you it's full of things I typically have on hand, and likely ones you do as well. The only items I usually have to buy for this recipe are graham crackers, cream cheese, and sometimes milk if I don't have any on hand!
9 crushed graham cracker sheets (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
5-6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1/2 cup (3 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
Cookie dough layer
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (2 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
16 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup milk (I used 2%)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
Total time: 7 and a half hours including chill and freeze time
Prep time: About 30 minutes
Bake time: About 45 minutes total
If you haven't already, remove your cream cheese and stick of butter from the fridge for later.
First, make your graham cracker crust. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place all 9 graham cracker sheets into a plastic bag and use the back of a pan, rolling pin, or any flat tool to crush them to a powder. If you have a food processor, you can also use that instead, but I find it easy to crush the graham cracker small enough using the plastic bag method. Into a medium sized bowl, add your crushed graham cracker, salt, and brown sugar and toss to combine. Melt your 6 tablespoons of butter and add most of it into your dry mixture, reserving the last tablespoon. Use a spoon to combine and bind the butter with your dry ingredients. If you find it is not binding, add the rest of your butter after you've begun mixing.
Line a 9x9in square pan (or you can use an 8x8 pan if that's what you have) with parchment paper. Pour your graham cracker crust mixture into your lined pan and use the back of a spoon or a flat tool to press the graham cracker down evenly ensuring there are no open gaps. I like using a small, flat bowl or the back of a measuring cup. Place your pan into the oven for 6 minutes.
Remove your square pan, and sprinkle your 1/2 cup of chocolate chips across the crust. Place your pan back into the oven for 2 minutes. Remove and use a flat tool to spread the melted chocolate across your crust. Move slowly and carefully. Know this doesn't need to be a perfect layer, but you'll want to cover as much of the graham cracker as you can with the chocolate knowing that gaps are okay too. Set your pan aside to cool.
Make your cookie dough. In a medium bowl, combine your room temperature butter and granulated sugar using a spatula or large spoon. Continue mixing until the sugar is completely incorporated into your butter - you should see no streaks of butter only. Add in your vanilla extract, and mix until fully combined into your butter and sugar mixture.
Next, add in your flour and salt. Move slowly to avoid over mixing your dough. Once a dough has formed, which means your flour and salt are both just mixed into your butter mixture, add in your chocolate chips. Continue using your spatula or large spoon to fold in your chocolate chips until they are evenly dispersed.
To spread your cookie dough onto your crust, grab your dough in sections, flatten it out in your hand and then place it around your crust until the dough is largely covering your crust. I find it easiest to use my hands to gently press your dough down to seal any gaps and get as much cookie dough coverage as you can.
Next, make your cheesecake layer. Into your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add all of your cream cheese. Turn your mixer on at a medium to high speed for 1-2 minutes. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of your bowl and the paddle attachment. Add in your granulated sugar, and then turn your mixer back on to a high speed for another 2 minutes.
Next, add in your milk, eggs, and vanilla extract. Turn your mixer back on at a low to medium speed for another minute. Scrape down the sides of your bowl, paddle attachment, and the bottom of your bowl and then turn your mixer back on at a low to medium speed for another minute until fully combined and smooth. Check for any streaks of unmixed ingredients and you can always turn our mixer back on for another minute or so to ensure everything is fully combined.
Finish, bake, and slice your bars. Pour your cheesecake mixture over your cookie dough layer and spread smooth with a spatula or flat tool if needed. Take your last two tablespoons of semisweet chocolate chips and sprinkle them evenly across your cheesecake. Some will sink and some will stay at the top, that is perfectly okay.
Your oven should still be heated to 350 degrees. Place your cheesecake into the oven for 35-40 minutes. You'll know it's done when you shake your pan and the cheesecake still jiggles but is set around the edges and firm to the light touch. Once it's fully baked, allow your cheesecake bars to cool for about an hour or so at room temperature. Then, place your cheesecake into the freezer for at least 5-6 hours (or overnight) before slicing!
When you're ready to slice, you can remove your frozen cheesecake from the pan and use a sharp knife to carefully cut. My preference is to slice into 9 squares, and then slice diagonally to create 18 triangles, or you can cut the full pan into 16 squares. Once sliced, I recommend storing your cheesecake bars in the freezer within an airtight container to eat any time! I think they taste great just out of the freezer, but I usually give them about 10 minutes at room temperature before enjoying.
Carb and serving info:
Carbs for full recipe: 537
Carbs per serving (1 of 16): 34
Carbs per serving (1 of 18): 30
Carbs from graham crackers: 108
Carbs from chocolate: 86.2
Note: Carb information is calculated based on the specific ingredients I used to cook with to help guide my own insulin to carb ratio when dosing before I eat my home cooked recipes.