Happy Halloween! I hope everyone had a great day. It was a beautiful, mild fall day here on the East Coast, which was perfect for trick-or-treating. So, like me, I’m sure many of you are now staring at a giant bag of candy and wondering whether you’ll be eating it until Thanksgiving. Fear not, TRB has a boo-tiful rescue up her sleeve to put that leftover candy to good use: Cheesecake Bars!
I know, I know. I normally get excited about any dessert. But this one is different. Promise!
Here’s why: I chose Kit Kat candy (fun size, of course!) for this recipe, but you could easily substitute Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Almond Joy, Snickers, Milky Way or even good ‘ol Hershey’s mini bars. The key, folks, is the crust. And, truth be told, I took a gamble this time. Well, actually, I forgot to buy graham crackers at the grocery store earlier in the week, which meant I was making a Ritz Cracker crust because that’s what I had on hand. Now, I never would have thought to use those as a base for cheesecake bars, but let me tell you, I may never go back! The salty, buttery-ness of the Ritz Crackers really offsets the sweetness of the Kit Kat bars and the tanginess of the chocolate cheesecake — it’s so, so good!
Back to the potential variations for this recipe…
If you were to use Reese’s or Snickers, a peanut butter swirl in either the cheesecake layer or chocolate topping would work very well. For Almond Joy, I’d suggest adding 1 tsp. of almond extract to the cheesecake layer to accentuate the almond flavor of the candy. Who doesn’t love caramel? You could mix some into the cheesecake layer or top the bars with it, if using Milky Way. And, with good ‘ol Hershey’s mini bars, a white chocolate topping could work well, maybe combined with some crushed Oreos — you’re catching on, aren’t you? The possibilities are endless!
So, go count up your Kit Kat minis (or whichever candy you have the most of in the bag!) and bake this recipe. Trust me, you’ll thank me later this week.
Kit Kat Cheesecake Bars
by The Rescue Baker (adapted from Baker’s Royale)
Makes 12 large bars
For the Crust:
21 Ritz Crackers (3 mini sleeves of 8), crushed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 stick salted butter, melted
For the Cheesecake Layer:
(2) 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
16-20 packages of Kit Kat fun size bars
For the Chocolate Topping:
1/2 bag Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 tbsp. salted butter
1. Line a 9×12 pan with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Make the crust: Combine the cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter and press into the lined pan. Bake for 10 minutes, until the crust is golden. Set aside to cool while you assemble the cheesecake layer.
2. Prepare the cheesecake layer: Beat the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix until well combined. Add cocoa powder and heavy cream, and mix until chocolate is well incorporated and the mixture reaches a spreadable consistency.
3. Layer the Kit Kat bars over the cracker crust. Pour the cheesecake layer over the Kit Kat bars. Bake in oven for 40 minutes or until cheesecake layer is firm. Set aside to cool.
4. Prepare the chocolate topping: Microwave the chocolate chips and butter on 30-second intervals until melted. Mix until smooth. When cheesecake layer is cooled, spread chocolate layer over top. (I used a fork to make cute little swirls, but feel free to get fannnncccyyy here!)
5. Refrigerate the bars for at least 4 hours or overnight. Once bars are chilled, cut into squares with a sharp knife. (Be sure to wipe the knife between cuts).
Hope you love this one as much as I do!
Here’s how it looks when it all comes together: