I like cheesecake bars. They’ve got all the creamy-ness of a big round cheesecake, but require less effort. They serve a crowd. They’re lowkey, but they don’t look it. So! Let’s talk about these!
These cheesecake bars came about on a whim. I wanted to make coffee cheesecake but I didn’t want to make a big one, so I searched for a recipe in bar form. When I couldn’t find any that looked good, I came up with my own. The usual story.
The base of this cheesecake is really simple! I’ll never veer from a graham cracker crust for cheesecake; I think the texture really offsets the creamy filling perfectly. Here, chocolate graham crackers replace the usual honey ones for the crust, and nutty browned butter amps up the flavor. There’re cacao nibs in the crust for extra texture, and I love how they pair with the espresso in the filling.
I tested the filling a few times until I settled on a perfect amount of coffee and the right combination of sweeteners. I love the flavor of maple syrup with coffee so there is some of that in the filling, along with regular white granulated sugar to ensure the texture isn’t too liquidy. The strong, fresh brewed espresso, adds just enough deep, dark flavor without overpowering everything else.
The ganache on top is a must have. What’s cheesecake without ganache? Exactly. I could have left it at that but I’m a sucker for those little chocolate coffee beans, so on top they went.
And that’s it! I added these to my Shavuos menu last year but they needed a bit more testing before I could bring them to you, so I’m super happy to be posting them now, when there’s juuust enough time for you to make them before the holiday.
Enjoy your cheesecakes and family time, and let me know if you make these. Chag sameach!
Yields: one 9×13, 16 large squares or 32 small ones
Why I love this recipe: here, a classic graham cracker crust is made with dark chocolate cookies, browned butter and cacao nibs for extra crunch and flavor. The sour cream enriched filling is soft, creamy and decadent, sweetened with both sugar and maple syrup and the espresso adds a sharp hit of coffee, which is complemented by the dark ganache and chocolate coffee bean topping.
Notes: Before you begin, all your filling ingredients need to be room temperature. Leave them out on the counter overnight, or several hours in advance before you begin baking. This will make the mixing seamless, and prevent against a lumpy batter. For easy cutting, remove cheesecake from pan and pull baking paper off. Heat a knife in a cup of hot water for a minute or 2, then wipe knife dry and cut. Wipe knife clean after each cut.
For the crust:
- 10 oz. chocolate graham crackers
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 stick butter, browned
- 2 tablespoons cacao nibs
For the filling:
- 16 oz. cream cheese (2 bars) at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup strong espresso, cooled
For the topping:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
- chocolate coffee beans, for topping
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13 square baking dish with baking paper.
- Make the crust: crush the dark chocolate cookies or process in food processor until smooth and uniform. Combine crumbs, sugar, salt and melted butter until all crumbs are moist. Mix with cacao nibs.
- Lightly press crumb mixture into prepared baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes. Remove and set aside until needed. Reduce oven heat to 325°F.
- In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add in sour cream and sugar and beat again.
- Add eggs, one at a time, to cream cheese mixture, beating well after each addition. Add maple syrup, salt and coffee and beat again, scraping down sides as needed, until mixture is completely smooth.
- Spoon mixture on top of prepared crust, smoothing to completely cover crust.
- Bake in preheated 325 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, until center no longer wobbles and edges are just starting to turn golden.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely before refrigerating.
- Meanwhile, make the ganache: place chocolate in a large bowl. Heat cream in a medium pot over medium-low heat until just simmering and pour over chocolate.
Let sit, undisturbed, for 5 minutes. Then whisk until smooth.
Pour the ganache over the cooled cheesecake. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight before serving.
- To serve, remove from fridge. Cut into into 16 large squares or 32 small ones. Top each square with a chocolate coffee bean. Serve.