From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...These cheesecake bars were one of two kitchen surprises this holiday season. They, along with the Poteca cake, proved to be delicious and what began as an attempt to find something different for holiday meals, ended up with the addition of two new recipes to my holiday repertoire. These bars are simply wonderful and I recommend them to you without reservation. They were inspired by a recipe I found in an old issue of Bon Appetit magazine, and, to be honest, I decided to make the bars only because I had whiskey left from the provisions for Irish coffee that we served at get-together earlier in the week. I closely followed the original recipe, but I added whiskey to the ingredient list and decided to "frost" the bars with whipped cream rather than dollop it over them. I also decided to freeze the cheesecake prior to cutting it into bars. This makes for neat slices which help improve their appearance. Once cut, I returned the bars the freezer where they could be extracted in any quantity needed for a specific occasion. I cannot be trusted when there is a ready-to-eat cheesecake in the house, so the freezing step is an absolute necessity in our house. The bars can be thawed in the refrigerator in an hour or so, but when pressed for time, they can be thawed at room temperature in about 20 minutes. This is not an overly sweet dessert and if you enjoy coffee flavored desserts, you will love these bars. They are truly espresso flavored, and, it goes without saying, that more whiskey can be added should you feel it's needed. Here is how the bars are made.
Irish Coffee Cheesecake Bars...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by Bon Appetit
9 whole graham crackers, broken up or 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup + 2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided use
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cubed
6-1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder, divided use
1 tablespoon + 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream, divided use
1 tablespoon Irish whiskey
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 large egg
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 11 x 7 or 9 x 9-inch metal baking pan. Add graham cracker crumbs to a food processor, or, if using whole crackers, grind them to make small crumbs. Add 1/4 cup sugar and pulse to combine. Add 1/4 cup butter and 1-1/2 teaspoons of espresso powder. Pulse until crumbs are moist and stick together. Transfer 1/2 cup crumb mixture to pie dish for crumb topping. Press remaining mixture onto bottom of prepared metal baking pan. Bake crumbs in pan and pie dish until golden, 10 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.
2) Meanwhile, stir remaining 5 teaspoons espresso powder, 1 tablespoon cream, and whiskey in small bowl until coffee dissolves.
3) Beat cream cheese in large bowl until smooth. Add reserved 2/3 cup sugar and beat to blend. Beat in coffee mixture, then egg.
4) Spread filling evenly over crust in metal baking pan. Bake until set, about 25 minutes. Chill uncovered until cold and firm, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.
5) Beat 1 cup cream with 1 tablespoon sugar in medium bowl until firm peaks form. Spread whipped cream in a layer cream over cheesecake. Sprinkle with reserved crumbs from pie plate. Place pan in freezer for 1 hour. Cut cheesecake into 16 bars while still frozen. Transfer to refrigerator about 1 hour before serving. Yield: 16 bars.
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