These Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars give you all the great flavors of cheesecake without the fuss of making a big cheesecake. Total game-changer!
A slice of luxuriously rich cheesecake is one of my favorite guilty pleasures, especially since moving to the city. But despite this love of cheesecake, I rarely make cheesecake at home, because it can be a bit fussy. Enter: these vanilla bean cheesecake bars, which are a completely different story. You get all the great flavor of cheesecake without the fuss of making a big cheesecake.
These vanilla bean cheesecake bars have a rich and tangy flavor perfectly balanced by the lightly sweetened graham cracker crust. The best part? They’re easier to make and easier to eat; talk about a serious win-win!
These vanilla bean cheesecake bars are surprisingly simple to make; here’s what you’ll need:
There are two main components to these vanilla bean cheesecake bars.
To make the buttery graham cracker crust, start by grinding up your graham crackers using either a food processor or blender (or throw them in a plastic bag and beat them on the counter). You need 9 full sheets of graham crackers; 9 full sheets = about 1 and 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs. Don’t have graham crackers where you live? (I’m looking at you, UK readers!) Use 1 and 1/2 cups of crushed digestive biscuits instead.
Mix the crushed graham crackers with 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 5 tablespoons of melted butter, and a pinch of salt. I like to use a good amount of butter (shocking) in my graham cracker crust because it provides flavor and is the key binding agent here. Once you mix it all up, the mixture will be thick, sandy, and coarse and you’re ready to press it into your prepared pan! Once firmly pressed in, you’ll freeze the crust for 10-15 minutes and then par-bake at 375°F (190°C) for 8-10 minutes; this ensures a stable bottom rather than a crust that is too crumbly and falls apart.
They wouldn’t be cheesecake bars without a delicious cream cheese filling! To make the cheesecake layer, beat together the cream cheese, granulated sugar, vanilla beans, and lemon juice until smooth. Beat in 3 large eggs, one at a time, then add the heavy cream and beat until smooth. Pour the batter on top of the slightly cooled crust, and then bake at 325°F (165°C) for 35-40 minutes, or until the cheesecake has set up and the edges are lightly browned. The bars will be very puffy but will sink slightly as they cool.
Serving: These vanilla bean cheesecake bars need a few hours (preferably overnight) to fully chill, however, you can serve them chilled or at room temperature. To get them to room temperature after chilling, just let them stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.
Storage: Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Leftovers can also be individually wrapped in plastic wrap surrounded by tin foil and then be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw in the fridge, on the counter, or in the microwave before serving.
VANILLA BEAN CHEESECAKE BARS: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I make these vanilla bean cheesecake bars ahead of time?
Of course! In fact, you kinda have to! Your cheesecake will need at least 2 hours to cool down at room temperature and then need 3 hours to set in the fridge before you can slice it and serve it up, so you’ll probably want to make it the day before you plan on serving it!
How long will these vanilla bean cheesecake bars last?
As long as you keep the cheesecake bars covered tightly, they will last 5-7 days in the fridge. They are perfect for making ahead of time for parties and events. Or you can just enjoy them all week long.
VANILLA BEAN CHEESECAKE BARS: TROUBLESHOOTING
Help! My cheesecake has lumps of cream cheese in it! What did I do wrong?
Sounds like your cream cheese wasn’t softened enough! Room temperature cream cheese becomes creamier when it’s mixed and it incorporates much better with the other ingredients in this recipe. If your cream cheese is too cold, it tends to stay lumpy in the batter and doesn’t fully mix!
Help! My cheesecake bars have sunk! What did I do wrong?
Sounds like you incorporated too much air into the mixture! Too much air will make your cheesecake rise in the oven and then deflate when out, causing the surface to sink and potentially crack.
You can prevent this by starting with room temperature ingredients which will help prevent you from overworking them. You can submerge eggs in hot tap water for five minutes to bring them to room temperature and pop your cream cheese blocks in the microwave for 15 seconds at medium power to warm them up.
Help! My cheesecake bars have a weird dry and crumbly texture! What did I do wrong?
It sounds like you overbaked your cheesecake bars! The center of the cheesecake should still wobble when you remove it from the oven; it will continue to cook as it cools on the counter. If you leave it in the oven until it’s completely firm, it’ll be overbaked (and cracked) by the time it’s ready to eat. For other visual clues, make sure the filling is pale—you’re not looking for golden brown—and that the edges are just barely puffed.
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