Thursday, February 24, 2011

Oreo Cheesecake Bars

You might not know it, but there is a cheesecake dilemma. And a cake dilemma... and a pie dilemma... Pretty much a dilemma for everything that is round (Yes, I'm discriminating against shapes today).

The problem is it is fairly next to impossible to sneak out a piece before taking it to the neighbors, or a work function, or church social, you catch my drift. I mean, how do you even know if it tastes good?

When I was a kid my mom had baked up three pumpkin pies and sat us three kids down, each with a pie in front of us, and said "Have at it! Eat as much pie as you want!" (It was like a dream come true. ) I probably got five or six bites into my pie before I realized something was wrong. All I tasted was salt, salt, salt! That pie-scarfing session turned into some logical life-lesson about not switching the sugar and the salt in the pantry. PS Mom- Totally wasn't me. And I will swear it to my deathbed. Anyways- good thing she didn't send a pie over to the neighbor's right?

Which brings us back to the cheesecake dilemma. If I'm going to spend three hours making a cheesecake, you can bet I'm going to want a bite. Also kind of want to make sure it doesn't taste like feet. (Unless I'm taking a cheesecake to *those* neighbors. Just kidding. I don't even know my neighbors).

The cheesecake dilemma is solved here, by making cheesecake into little bars. So you can taste-test one. Or three. Or half a pan. Your neighbors will still love you for bringing over delicious treats, and you'll love them because they gave you a good excuse to eat cheesecake. Everyone wins.

Original recipe from: Recipe Girl, slightly adapted

For the Crust:

-1 pkg Oreo cookies
-4 Tbsp butter, melted
For the Filling:
-3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
-1 cup granulated white sugar
-3/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
-1 tsp vanilla
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-3 large eggs, at room temperature
1. Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line a 9 x 13-inch pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Spray with Pam.

2. To make the crust, place 28 Oreos in a food processor and process until finely ground. Pour into a large bowl, add the melted butter, and stir with a spatula until all crumbs are moistened. Place the cookie-crumb mixture in the lined pan and, using your fingers, press the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom. Bake 10 minutes, then remove to a wire cooling rack (leave the oven on) while you make the filling. Break the remaining Oreos in half, put them in the food processor, and turn on and off quickly a few times, just until the cookies are roughly chopped.
3. To make the filling, In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese and sugar until well blended, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a flexible spatula and beat again until uniform. Beat in sour cream, vanilla and salt. Scrape down the bowl and mix again. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. After beating in the last egg, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat one more time, to make sure the mixture is fully combined. Stir in chopped Oreos with the same spatula.
4. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the baked cookie crust, smooth the top with the spatula, and bake for 40 minutes, until the filling is set around the edges but still slightly wobbly in the center when you gently shake the pan. Remove the pan to a wire rack to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. When cool, cover it with foil and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours, or overnight.

5. To cut, use the foil overhang to lift the cheesecake out of the pan and place on a large cutting board. Use a sharp chef's knife to cut the cheesecake into bars, rinsing off the knife with hot water and wiping it dry between each cut. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
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