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S'mores Cheesecake Bars

  It's a flannel sort of Sunday.  I've been sleeping in like nobody's business this weekend, and wearing crazy Target knee socks.  There are gummy bears galore, pianos to be played, and I'm currently wrestling through Wuthering Heights.  Speaking of which, can somebody please explain to me the extreme appeal girls seem to have towards Heathcliff?  I mean, sure, he's got a danged pathetic story, but the only person he really seems to care for is Catherine- and even then, he's got a pretty funny way of expressing his devotion.  I won't even get into Catherine's character right now.  Nope.  Can't.  Won't.

  I guess ladies are just funny like that.  They want the drama, the heartbreak, all that jazz.  Mr. Bennet of Pride and Prejudice puts it quite well: "Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed in love a little now and then. It is something to think of, and gives her a sort of distinction among her companions."

  Jane Austen can certainly tell it like it is.

  Chocolate seems to be the healer of many things, especially broken hearts.  But you know what?  Give me marshmallows anytime.  This is why s'mores are such a perfect balance for me.  That is, as long as the marshmallow to chocolate ratio is just right.

  S'mores are a happy medium for many people, and cheesecake the weakness of many more.  Enter these guys.

  Now I'll be honest here, I'm not a super duper huge cheesecake fan.  But my tastebuds are ever expanding their horizons, and I often find certain food items I used to despise growing on me.  These cheesecake bars are one example of that.  Marshmallows, chocolate, and cheesecake are a match made in heaven.

  So say hello to my new go-to for "Can you bring dessert?" when we're invited to dinner.  People love it, I love it, we all love it.

  However, you certainly don't need the excuse of a dinner party to make these.  Get a little affair of the heart going, and suddenly you'll have every justifiable excuse.  Perks of being a girl, aye?

S'mores Cheescake Bars
Yield: about 12-16 bars

Ingredients for the crust:
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Ingredients for the cheesecake:
  • 4 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup marshmallow cream
  • 2 tsp. cocoa powder
  • ¾ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs 

Ingredients for the topping:
  • 1½ cups mini marshmallows 
  • Milk chocolate chips, melted (optional)

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with foil (Do not use parchment, since you will be later torching/broiling the marshmallows.  Fire hazard!); spray lightly with cooking spray.  Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a small bowl.  Stir together with a fork until well combined.  Press the mixture in an even layer into the bottom of the prepared baking pan (A large, flat-bottomed glass helps to make an even layer.).  Bake 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown; transfer to a wire rack while you prepare the filling.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325˚ F.

To make the filling, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, making sure the bowl isn't touching the water.  Heat until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally, making sure the water never boils.  Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, and marshmallow cream.  Beat on medium-high speed until smooth and well combined, 1-2 minutes.  Blend in the cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and eggs until incorporated.  Stir in the melted chocolate until well blended.  Pour the filling over the graham cracker crust and smooth the top with a spatula.  

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the center is just set (only jiggles the slightest bit in the center when gently shaken.).  Remove from the oven.

Evenly top the cheesecake layer with the mini marshmallows.  Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes, just long enough so the marshmallows begin to melt into each other (If using a broiler to toast the marshmallows, really make sure you don't let them melt into each other too much in this step.  You want them to keep some of their uniformity so they can withstand the broiler.).  Transfer to a wire cooling rack.  Using a kitchen torch, lightly brown the tops of the marshmallows.  (Alternatively, this can be done underneath the broiler with a very watchful eye.) Once the cheesecake has cooled to room temperature, drizzle with melted milk chocolate if desired.  Transfer to the refrigerator and chill 2-3 hours before slicing and serving.

Sources: heavily adapted from Annie's Eats, who adapted from Sugar Plum Blog