Cheesecake is a big deal in my house. My husband's family loves it and it’s my go-to for any gathering.
The thing with cheesecake, however, is that it can take forever to make! There’s a lot of chilling time for a classic cheesecake. (I always let mine refrigerate for at least 12 hours!)
Cheesecake in Half the Time!
That’s where these bars come in. They cut that time significantly so you can make them in the morning and they are ready to serve by the afternoon. You can also eat them without a fork—bonus! Plus, there’s chocolate involved, and who can resist that?
Chocolate Chip Cookie + Cheesecake = Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars
These bars feature a buttery cookie crust made from vanilla wafers and butter. I’m partial to the Trader Joe’s brand of wafers but any vanilla wafer will work.
But the wild card comes from the mini chocolate chips mixed right into the crust. The result is a toffee-like chocolate chip cookie base that absolutely makes these bars stand out.
The filling is smooth and dense like a classic cheesecake, fortified with a little bit of tangy sour cream, plus even more mini chocolate chips sprinkled throughout. There are just enough chocolate chips that it satisfies chocolate lovers but not so much that you’re exiting cheesecake territory.
Tips for Making These Cheesecake Bars
- Do not to overmix the cheesecake filling. Overmixing contributes more air and can cause the cheesecake to rise like a soufflé and crack as it deflates. For extra insurance, gently tap the pan of pre-baked bars on the counter a few times to release any larger air bubbles.
- Cool slowly to prevent cracks: Like with all cheesecakes, cooling these bars slowly is the key to preventing cracks! With a full-size cheesecake I’d go for at least an hour in the turned-off oven, but 30 minutes will do the trick here with these bars.
- Chill these bars thoroughly for the most smooth, creamy texture. I suggest 3 hours for a bar that can be handheld and eaten without a plate and fork.
- To get super clean and sharp slices, use a large knife warmed in hot water to slice these. I also make sure to cut straight down with the knife and not drag it through the bars in order to get those clean slices. I also use a ruler because I’m all about precise slices—but that’s up to you!
More Bar Cookies You'll Love!
- Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Streusel Topping
- Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies
- 7-Layer Magic Bars
- Kahlua Brownies
- Blueberry Crumb Bars
7/22/2020: We spiffed up this post to make the crust portion of the recipe a little clearer to understand with help from Rachel Knecht.
Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars
- For the cookie crust:
- 30 original-size vanilla wafer cookies
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons (43 g) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons (10 g) mini chocolate chips
- For the cheesecake filling:
- 16 ounces softened cream cheese
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces) sour cream
- 1/2 cup (3 ounces) mini chocolate chips
- Food processor
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper, leaving an overhang of parchment on two sides. This will help you lift the bars out of the pan after they’ve been baked.
Make the crust:
Pulse vanilla wafers in a food processor until fine crumbs the size of sand are formed. You should end up with 1 cup of crumbs. Add sugar and salt to the food processor and pulse 5 times to combine. Pour in melted butter and pulse until the mixture starts to clump together, 5-10 seconds. The crust will look like wet sand and stick together when squeezed. Remove blade and use a small rubber spatula to stir in 2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips.
Form the crust to the pan:
Dump the cookie crumb mixture into the prepared baking dish. Firmly, press crust into the bottom of the dish in an even layer. You can use the bottom of a measuring cup for this. It should be firm enough to not move when gently touched. Bake for 10 minutes. The crust will be slightly golden brown around the edges.
Remove from oven to cool on a cooling rack while you make the filling.
Turn the oven down to 325°F.
Make the filling:
Beat the cream cheese in a mixing bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer) until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time until combined, scraping the bowl after each addition.
Beat in the sugar, followed by the vanilla extract and sour cream, until just combined. Do not overmix. The mixture should be smooth and thick like yogurt.
Turn off the mixer and fold in the mini chocolate chips with a spatula.
Fill the crust:
Spread the cheesecake filling over the prepared crust and rap the pan on the counter a few times to release any bubbles.
Bake the bars:
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the filling is just set and slightly jiggly in the center. Turn off the oven, crack open the door (use a wooden spoon wedged between the door to keep it from closing if yours won’t stay open) and cool in the oven for 30 minutes.
Chill the bars:
Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature on a rack, about 30 minutes. Transfer to the fridge and chill for at least 3 hours or overnight before serving.
Leftovers! These bars will keep in a covered container in the fridge for about a week.