Friday, April 27, 2018

Caramel Swirl Cheesecake Bars

Our weather has suddenly turned warm, but thankfully the house isn’t too hot to bake. We’ve hit record temperatures for a couple of days, but no worries as by the weekend it will be cloudy and cold again. I didn’t really think about how warm it would be when I was planning what to bake, but thankfully I had picked a bar cookie which means that the oven doesn’t have to be on all that long.

A couple of weeks ago I was at the store and I must have been hungry as I picked up several random things, including a package of sea salt caramel chips. I don’t always like flavored chips, as they can taste quite artificial, but I hoped these would be good. I do miss the raspberry chocolate chips that Hershey’s used to make; they made the best cookies ever. Too bad they stopped making them. Oh well. I could have made the cookies on the back of the package, but I looked online and found these cheesecake bars. I hadn’t made a cheesecake bar cookie in a very long time.

I used packaged graham cracker crumbs, which was a lot easier than grinding them up myself. The hardest part was melting the caramel chips, as they were very heat-sensitive. Too much heat and they scorch, and even using 50% power mine got a little too warm. Thankfully, it all smoothed out in the mixer. I would typically melt the chips with a little bit of shortening, which helps moderate the mixture, but I didn’t want to risk messing up the filling. I let mine chill overnight before cutting, and I think that works best. The caramel flavor in the bars is subtle, but does pair nicely with the tang of the cream cheese.

Caramel Swirl Cheesecake Bars
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted

24 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon rum
10 ounce package sea salt caramel chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with foil, allowing the foil to hang over the edge of the pan. Spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Make the crumb crust: in a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press the crumbs evenly into the base of the prepared pan; set aside.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and salt on medium until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.

Measure 3-1/2 cups of the cream cheese mixture and set aside in a separate bowl. To the remaining batter in the mixing bowl, add the cream and rum and stir to combine.

Melt the caramel chips in the microwave, heating using 50% power and stirring frequently. Add the melted chips to the rum batter in the mixing bowl and mix on low to combine. Alternatively drop the plain and the caramel rum batter on top of the crumb crust. Run a knife through the batter to create a swirled effect.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the center of the bars is set. Cool on a wire rack and then refrigerate until fully chilled. Cut into bars.

Recipe from Hershey’s

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