When I planned this week’s cookies, I knew that I wanted to bake bar cookies. I looked and found a couple of different recipes. I planned on making a brownie variation, and planned to get the needed ingredients at the store. Tuesday at work I had an opportunity to chat with folks from work and I mentioned that I was deciding on what to bake. I also noticed that at lunch there were brownies and lemon bars for dessert. Everyone had picked lemon bars. Since a lemon bar was the other recipe I was considering, I was starting to rethink my choice!
I did end up changing what I baked. I had a box of Nilla Wafers in the cupboard, so that helped! These bars require a lot of ingredients: 2 packages of cream cheese, 3 eggs, over a cup of butter. Trust me, once these bars are all put together, it’s a very heavy pan! It takes some effort for each layer, but thankfully you assemble them completely and then bake. If you bake each step separately, it takes a lot longer. Assembly itself wasn’t that time consuming.
I baked these a day in advance and then let them refrigerate overnight. Thankfully I read through the recipe in advance or I would have missed that detail. These did bake a lot longer than the original recipe specified. I checked at 30 minutes, which is what the recipe said, and the dough was pretty raw. I kept adding time, until the cookies were a beautiful golden brown. These bars are so decadent. Sweetness from the Nilla Wafers, the tanginess of the cream cheese, and the refreshing lemon all come together for a real treat!
Lemon Cheesecake Bars
60 Nilla Wafers
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon extract
Zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 lemon, zested
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
11 ounces white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
Make the crust: in a food processor, pulse Nilla Wafer cookies until crumbs. Add the sugar and pulse to combine. Add the melted butter and pulse until the mixture comes together. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.
Make the cheesecake filling: in a large mixer bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, lemon extract and lemon zest on medium until smooth. Pour over the crumb crust and smooth the top.
Make the cookie dough topping: rinse and dry the mixer bowl. Beat the butter and sugar on medium for 2 minutes, until light. Add the egg, vanilla and lemon zest and beat on medium until combined. Add the baking powder, salt and flour, mixing on low until incorporated. Stir in the white chocolate chips. Using small pieces of dough, piece together a layer of dough to top the cheesecake layer. Use your fingertips to spread gently until the cream cheese is (nearly) covered.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the top cookie later is golden brown. Cool completely and then refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator.
Recipe from Shugary Sweets