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It’s Spring and love is in the air! There’s love for that special someone, family, friends, life, Girl Scout cookies, cheesecake… all of these things inspire feelings of love. Today is an extra special day for love as it also happens to be Camilla over at Culinary Adventures with Cam‘s 15th wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary darling! She and her husband love to celebrate with cheesecake, so she’s having a virtual party with over 25 different cheesecakes to celebrate! That’s how you throw a party. 😉
My cheesecake bars are inspired by my favorite Girl Scout cookie – the Samoa. I adore caramel, and my mom is a fan of coconut and chocolate, so as a little girl I always saw these as the perfect cookie and each year, when I sold Girl Scout cookies growing up, we always bought a few boxes of Samoas and one Thin Mints for our house. Before we get to the bars though, I’d like to add a small PSA on behalf of the older Girl Scouts everywhere. The Juniors, Cadets, and Seniors would really appreciate it if you’d buy cookies from their booths every once in a while. I know those pre-teen/teenage years are a little awkward compared to the Daisy and Brownie cuteness, but that’s also the age where a girl’s confidence is usually put through its first real test. If they’re out there and you’re planning to buy cookies anyway, please support your older Girl Scout troops.
Back to cheesecake. I was originally going to make this as a classic cheesecake, but opted out for two reasons – the first being that it’s incredibly difficult to safely dip the bottom of an entire cheesecake in chocolate and I really wanted to keep that aspect of the original cookie, and second, my cheesecake pan fills to the top with cheesecake, and I didn’t want spillover from the caramel layer as it sets. I also envision taking these to a party or potluck at some point and bars are easier to serve than a full cheesecake.
This caramel layer is actual caramel candy from scratch. If you’d prefer something softer, use a thick caramel sauce recipe and refrigerate it until firm. You won’t have the clean cuts, but the texture will be closer to that of the cheesecake. I wanted a thick layer of caramel that stayed cleanly on each bar, so I made it into a candy. It doesn’t provide a clean bite through, so use a fork, or if you’re not in the mood to be graceful, just take the caramel off, hold in one hand, bite the caramel, and then bite the cheesecake you have in the other hand. It’s like having two desserts at once.
For the chocolate, you don’t have to temper it because the cheesecake stays in the fridge, but if you’d like that crunch, go ahead and temper the chocolate or use a good quality candy coating so you still get actual chocolate flavor.
- 8 oz (225 g) graham cracker crumbs
- 1/4 c (45 g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp (1 g) salt
- 8 tbsp (113 g) unsalted butter, melted
- 3 8-ounce packages cream cheese (24 oz/678 g), softened
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 c (150 g) granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp (6 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp (10 g) vanilla extract
Toasted Coconut Caramel
- 8 tbsp (113 g) unsalted butter
- 2/3 c brown sugar
- 1/3 c granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp light corn syrup or honey*
- 1 c heavy cream
- 2 c toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
- Dark chocolate or dark chocolate candy coating
- Preheat your oven to 425 F and butter at 7"x11" baking dish.
- Combine the first four ingredients (graham cracker crumbs, sugar, salt, and melted butter) to make the crust. Once well combined, evenly press into the baking dish and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer whip the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract on high for about 2 minutes until fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, stirring to combine and scraping the sides of the bowl after each egg.
- Stir in the flour.
- Pour the cheesecake batter over the crust and use an offset spatula to ensure it's spread evenly.
- Place the baking dish in a larger baking dish and fill the larger baking dish with water until it comes about 2/3 of the way up the sides of the smaller dish. Place the cheesecake and water bath into the oven.
- Bake at 425 for 10 minutes then, without opening the door, lower the heat to 350 F and bake an additional 15-18 minutes until the cheesecake is set but still jiggles slightly in the center.
- Turn off the heat and crack the oven door open. Leave the cheesecake in the oven 30 minutes, then remove from the oven and water bath, and allow to cool on a rack an additional 30 minutes before refrigerating until well chilled.
- While the cheesecake is cooling in the oven, you can toast the coconut if it isn't already. Place the coconut in a dry skillet and toast over medium heat about 5 minutes until golden, stirring constantly. Remove from heat immediately and allow to cool.
Make the Caramel
- You may make the caramel while the cheesecake is cooling on the rack or make it later when the cheesecake is chilling. To make the caramel place all ingredients in a medium saucepan with a lid. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is melted.
- When the sugar has melted, attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and cook until the mixture reaches 238 F.
- Remove from heat, stir in the toasted coconut flakes and pour over the cheesecake. Refrigerate at least two hours until set.
Assembling the Cheesecake:
- The easiest way to cut the bars is to remove the caramel layer (it comes off cleanly), cut the caramel into squares, then return the squares to the cheesecake (they'll fit together perfectly) and cut along the lines. Return the cut bars to the refrigerator while you melt the chocolate so they are well chilled for dipping.
- I used dark chocolate candy melts, which I melted in the microwave at 50% power, for 1 minute, then 20 second intervals, stirring after each until smooth.
- Set out a sheet of wax paper for the dipped bars. Dunk the bottom of each bar in the chocolate, wipe off excess, and set on the wax paper. Repeat for each bar.
- To drizzle chocolate on the bars, place the remaining melted chocolate in a piping bag or ziploc bag, snip off a corner or the tip, and drizzle chocolate over the bars. Allow to set and serve chilled!
*You need to add either corn syrup or honey as an inverse sugar to stabilize the caramel. The honey will add a slight flavor to the caramel, but it does work as a substitute for corn syrup in this recipe.
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Today we are helping Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla celebrate her 15th wedding anniversary with waaaayy more than #fifteencheesecakes.
Here’s what everyone brought to the cheesecake table, listed in alphabetical order. Enjoy!
Cheesecake Bars by Baking and Creating with Avril
Cheesecake Bites by Cookaholic Wife
Caramel Cheesecake by Dancing
Cheesecake by My Hobbie Lobbie
Topped Peppermint Cheesecake by Amy’s Cooking Adventures
Cheesecake with Strawberry Puree by Making Miracles
No-Bake Cheesecake by Hapa-tite!
Brulee Cheesecake Bars by Tara’s Multicultural Table
Basket Mini Cheesecakes by Little Bit of Everything
Cheesecake by Things I Make (for Dinner)
Cream Cheesecake by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Layered Cinnamon Streusel Cheesecake Cake by Famished Fish, Finicky Shark
Blackberry Cheesecake by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
Churro Caramel Cheesecake by Cheese Curd In Paradise
Pull up a Chair
Mom’s New York Cheesecake by Taste Cook Sip
Pumpkin Cheesecake by Angels Homestead
Cheesecake with Shortbread Crust by Living the Gourmet
by Goodie Godmother
Sopapilla Cheesecake Bars by The Savvy Kitchen
Sopapilla Puff Pastry Cheesecake by Pink Cake Plate
Cheesecake Brownie Torte by Making Memories With Your Kids