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Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars

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True confession: these bars are actually semi-homemade. Another confession: no one will care … they are just that good.

I first tasted a chocolate cheesecake bar during my second year of college living in a house with fourteen (yes, you read that correctly) other 19 to 20 year old girls. As you can likely imagine, there was rarely a moment of peace and quiet. In “The White House” (as we and so many other women before and after us affectionately call it), there were more dance parties, late night conversations, hair-brained adventures, and tear-jerking laughter than could be counted. Things were chaotic, at moments dramatic, but overall simply a lot of fun. Perhaps chief among the highlights of living there were our dessert parties. And when I say dessert parties, imagine a large three story house with dessert in every room and hundreds (again, yes, you read that correctly) of people stopping by. Insane.

These bars are the recipe of my dear friend who made them for nearly every party. They are quick, easy (as I already confessed, they are semi-homemade) but they are oh so delicious. I can’t make them without missing the days spent in that big, old white house.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars
Adapted from my friend Abi’s recipe (source unknown)

1 package pre-made chocolate chip cookie dough (our favorite is Toll House)
1 8oz block of cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/3 c white sugar

Preheat oven to 375°.

Grease a 9X9 glass pan with butter and set aside.

Remove half of the chocolate chip cookie dough from the packaging and return the remaining half to the refrigerator. Use your fingers to mash the dough into flat pieces. If you bought a tube of cookie dough, use a knife to cut off pieces of the dough and then flatten each piece. If you bought the pre-shaped cookie dough, simply use your fingers to flatten each cookie. Line the flattened pieces in the prepared pan, covering the bottom of the pan with cookie dough. Overlapping is okay, but you don’t want to leave gaps if possible.

Use a mixer to combine the cream cheese, egg and sugar. Blend until smooth, then pour the mixture over the cookie dough.

Repeat the same process of flattening the cookie dough with the dough reserved in the refrigerator. You’ll want to cover the entire cream cheese mixture with cookie dough (or as much as you can).

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the edges are browned and the cream cheese is set.

Let cool on the counter for 30 minutes and then refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Makes 16 bars.

Texas Sheet Cake

Texas Sheet Cake

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Consider chocolate cake. Any number of things come to mind. Like the Trunchbull making poor Bruce Bogtrotter eat that enormous chocolate cake in front of the entire school (although maybe that wasn’t actually so bad … he did end up with an entire cake). Or, Bill Cosby’s stand up routine “Chocolate Cake for Breakfast,” (“NUTRITION! Eggs, milk, and wheat are in the chocolate cake …”) which growing up was the standing joke for what we should have for breakfast (although, somehow I never did end up with that cake come breakfast time …).  Or perhaps, it is this amazing peanut butter and chocolate cake that I made for two of my sister-in-law’s bachelorette parties and the leftovers that we ate the next day until we couldn’t move. (Can you tell I’m a fan of chocolate cake?)

This version of chocolate cake is quick and easy (at least as cakes go) and is originally from Cooking Light, so I think you can claim it is healthy (just don’t ask your favorite dietitian). My edits are very minimal: a dash more cinnamon, replacing buttermilk with milk, and a less sweet, more intensely chocolate frosting.  It goes a long way since it is a sheet cake (or it just makes folks feel less guilty about having a second slice).

Texas Sheet Cake
Adapated from Cooking Light, Sept. 2007

Cake
2 c all-purpose flour
2 c granulated sugar
1 t baking soda
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
3/4 t water
1/2 c butter, melted
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa
1/2 c milk
1 t vanilla extract
2 eggs

Frosting
6 T butter
1/4 c cocoa
1/3 c milk
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
2 t vanilla extract
1/2 c pecans, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 375°.

Grease 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray or butter. Set aside.

Combine flour through salt in a large bowl and stir well to combine. Then combine water, melted butter, and coca in mixer and turn on to low speed. When well combined, gradually add the flour mixture. Turn mixer up to medium speed and mix until well blended. Add milk, vanilla and eggs; beat well.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until an inserted wooden pick comes out clean. Place on wire rack to cool.

While cake is starting to cool, combine butter, cocoa, and milk in a sauce pan to make your frosting. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add powdered sugar and vanilla. Pour over the still hot cake then sprinkle with pecans.

Allow cake to cool completely before serving.

Serves 16-24.

One additional thought on this post: While I grew up listening to Bill Cosby, in no way do I support or endorse him in light of recent revelations about his treatment of women. The truth about the man behind all those stories is deeply disturbing and sad.