Creamy, delicious, and flavored with real maple syrup, these maple cheesecake bars are a delightful dessert. Top with cinnamon whipped cream for a truly amazing treat!
Last year, I made a maple cheesecake for our Friendsgiving celebration. We had almost 20 people over and I was in hostess heaven! As a feeder a hostess at heart, I adore having people over and getting to love on them a bit.
One of our guests was gluten-intolerant. Since one of the cardinal rules for being a gracious host(ess) is to know everyone’s preferences and have options available, I wanted to be ready! Of course, we were going to have some homemade truffles and macarons, but there needed to be more!
So I used the pecan crust from my gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake and made a maple cheesecake filling instead.
It might have been one of my favorite desserts of the night.
So I spent the rest of the year swearing to the Godfather that I was going to make it again. And yet, it took almost a year! And when I was about to bake, I realized I was short a few ingredients. Oops.
I was out of pecans, and didn’t have enough cream cheese for my famous sky-high cheesecakes.
This recipe just couldn’t wait any longer though! So with a few modifications, we have… maple cheesecake bars!
Yes, all the exclamation points are totally necessary. I’m not going to apologize. Love you!
Maple Cheesecake Bars Recipe Notes…
The recipe is pretty straightforward, but I have a few tips for you to help you achieve perfect, creamy cheesecake bars. Bars are actually a great place to start if you’ve never made cheesecake before because they’re a bit less fussy.
First, the crust. It’s a classic graham cracker crust, BUT I have a few suggestions for you. If you have maple sugar, and you want a bold maple flavor, I totally recommend using maple sugar instead of brown sugar.
Maple sugar isn’t something most of us have in our pantries though, so brown sugar works perfectly. It does add a little more maple flavor. We’ll talk about this a bit in the next section.
Second, make sure your cream cheese is softened. You can either take your cream cheese out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you mix up the bars, or unwrap and microwave. Softening cream cheese in the microwave only takes about 15 seconds.
I’d also suggest taking your eggs out 10-15 minutes before mixing and the sour cream. The maple syrup might be a good idea too.
I’ve literally forgotten to take out the maple syrup every time I’ve made maple cheesecake though and it hasn’t mattered.
Greek yogurt can be swapped for the sour cream. The best texture will come from full-fat yogurt. I have used fat-free in cheesecake bars before though, and they still turned out quite good. There is a slight difference in texture, but most people won’t notice.
If you are using a stand mixer to beat the cheesecake, use the paddle attachment. To prevent cracks, you’ll want to avoid whipping too much air into the cheesecake, so the paddle is a better option than the whisk.
To cut down on dishes, I usually mix with a hand mixer and a large mixing bowl. Choose your adventure!
You can make cheesecake bars in advance!
It’s best if you make these the day before you plan to serve so there’s plenty of time to chill! The maple cheesecake bars are easiest to cut when cold.
If you’re planning to serve these with a holiday meal, then this definitely saves you a bit of time on the day of the big feast. Bake your bars a day or two before, refrigerate, then cut and serve!
Cheesecake bars are seriously one of the best ways to serve cheesecake to a crowd. So much easier than letting people slice away at a round cake. Trust me.
What kind of maple syrup should I use?
Darlings, for these bars, you’re going to want to use real maple syrup for the best flavor. The “breakfast syrups” aren’t going to shine through in quite the same way. You can use them, of course, but if you can use the real thing, it’s so good!
Maple syrup sold to consumers is labeled by color: Golden, Amber, Dark, and Very Dark. The golden and amber have a more delicate flavor, while dark and very dark are bolder and more robust.
I’ve made this with Amber and Dark. With the amber maple syrup, the maple flavor was light. It was still there, but I couldn’t clearly say “maple!” until the day after the bars were baked.
On the other hand, the dark maple syrup was perfect! Because I wanted a bold maple flavor, this was my favorite.
BUT, both were really good, so use what you have. I just felt it was important to include this section because we noticed a big difference in flavor. And since I want you to get exactly the result you want, these notes will hopefully help. 🙂
What about the cinnamon whipped cream?
Originally, the whipped cream wasn’t part of the plan. But as I was photographing, the bars just felt like they needed a little something.
This batch was also the batch where I only had amber maple syrup on hand, so I wanted to add something that would help coax out the maple flavor a bit more. The cinnamon whipped cream was PERFECT!
Because cheesecake bars have a different bite than cheesecake the whipped cream topping also made them feel decadent. Cheesecake bars have a smaller ratio of cheesecake to crust. To me, the small smear of whipped cream added just the right finishing touch.
You may choose to spread the whipped cream on for a rustic look, or use an open star tip to pipe pretty dollops. There is no wrong way to do this. If you have extra whipped cream, it’s perfect on pies, ice cream, or fruit.
I hope you love this maple cheesecake bar recipe, darlings! Happy baking!
Graham Cracker Crust:
- 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted (see notes)
- 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar, or maple sugar (see notes)
- 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup sour cream
Cinnamon Whipped Cream
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease an 8x8-inch square pan and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the graham crackers, butter, and sugar. Press the crust mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Set aside.
- If you used a large mixing bowl, wipe out any crumbs and use it to make the maple cheesecake filling.
- Using a hand mixer, or using the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring until just incorporated. Scrape the bowl after each egg.
- Pour the maple syrup and sour cream into the bowl and stir until smooth.
- Pour the cheesecake batter over the crust and smooth.
- Bake the cheesecake bars for 50-55 minutes until the center is just set but still jiggles slightly. The bars will continue to set as they cool, so you want to pull them out of the oven when the center still hasn't fully set. If you wait until the bars have fully set, they will over-bake and won't be as creamy. Watch them carefully towards the end of the bake time.
- When the bars are ready, allow to cool at room temperature for 20-30 minutes, then refrigerate at least an hour and a half until well-chilled.
- If you'd like to add the whipped cream, make it when you are ready to slice the bars. In a clean, chilled mixing bowl, combine the heavy cream, sugar, and cinnamon. Start on low speed and work your way up to medium-high. Whip until medium-stiff peaks form, then stop. Spread or pipe the whipped cream over the cheesecake bars and enjoy!
- Extra cheesecake bars can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to a week.
- If you use unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt to the graham cracker crust.
- To really punch up the flavor of the maple, use maple sugar. Otherwise, brown sugar is perfect!
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