Black and White and Loving Vanilla Bean

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My sister’s 23rd birthday is coming up, and she is having a cocktail party* to celebrate.  The color scheme for the evening is black and white so I am helping out by baking desserts with those colors.  The first thing that came to my mind was black and white cheesecake bars.  That is slightly ironic given that Jessica doesn’t like cheesecake.  However, she doesn’t eat gluten either, so most of the desserts are not even for her.

*way for twenty-somethings to get drunk and feel classy

cheesecake 6

I started by adapting this recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Bars.  I swapped gingersnap crust with Oreo and got rid of the pumpkin.  But then I thought, how could make it even more special?  Instead of using just a plain cheesecake layer for the “white”, I made it vanilla bean.  Wow, this took the dessert to a whole new level.  I’d never baked with vanilla bean before and I think I might be hooked!  When you take a bite of the Chocolate and Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars, you get a sweet creamy layer and then that chocolate crunch from the crust.  The rich chocolate cheesecake layer comes through next, but then when you think you are done, the vanilla bean kicks in.  Layers of flavors are what make desserts stand out.  Make these.

vanilla bean 1

To make the crust, grind up about 17 Oreos in a food processororeos in food processor

Set cookie crumbs aside

oreo crumbs

Melt butter; add melted butter and sugar to cookie crumbsmixing crust

Press mixture into a 9×13 pan lined with tin foil and cooking spray; spread evenly using fingers to push down crust mixture and set aside

crust in pan

To make your cheesecake filling, beat cream cheese in mixer until light, creamy and lumps are gone (about 5 minutes)

cream cheese cream cheese creamed

Add granulated sugar and combine on medium-high speed well until light and creamy

sugar and cream chs creamed

Beat in eggs, one at a time, on medium speed

add egg

Mix in flour on medium speed

add flour

Add your vanilla extract and salt and beat until your mixture is thick and creamy

add vanilla extract

Now, separate 1/2 of the cheesecake filling and set aside in a separate bowl

Split the vanilla bean open with a sharp knife

vanilla bean 2

Scrape out the awesomeness of the vanilla bean with the back of the knife

vanilla bean 3

Add vanilla bean to the batter and stir

vanilla bean batter

Melt chocolate chips and butter in a small saucepan over low heat or in the microwave; mixture will get very thick

chocolate and sugarmelted butter and sugar

Add chocolate to the filling still in the mixer and combine thoroughly

chocolate added

Pour chocolate batter over crust and bake for 15 minutes

chocolate layer

chocolate layer baked

Remove from oven and pour remaining cheesecake filling on top vanilla bean batter

Bake for 33-38 minutes or until edges begin to separate from foil and middle bounces slightly when touched

vanilla layer baked

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight

Remove cheesecake from pan and cut into small bars

cheesecake 8

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Vanilla Bean and Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

Yield: 36 small bars

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups Oreo cookie crumbs (about 17 cookies); I used reduced fat Oreos
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, separated
  • 2 8-ounce packages light cream cheese softened at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean (if leaving this out, replace with 1 tablespoon of additional vanilla extract)
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cooking Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Line a 13×9 pan with tin foil and spray with cooking spray, set aside
  3. To make the crust, grind up about 17 Oreos in a food processor until fine; set cookie crumbs aside
  4. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in the microwave and pour over cookie crumbs
  5. Add 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar and mix until well combined
  6. Press mixture into a 9×13 pan lined with tin foil and cooking spray; spread evenly using fingers to push down crust mixture and set aside
  7. To make your cheesecake filling, beat cream cheese in mixer until light, creamy and lumps are gone (about 5 minutes)
  8. Add granulated sugar and combine on medium-high speed well until light and creamy
  9. Beat in eggs, one at a time, on medium speed
  10. Mix in flour on medium speed
  11. Add vanilla extract and salt and beat until mixture is thick and creamy
  12. Now, separate 1/2 of the cheesecake filling and set aside in a separate bowl; add vanilla bean and stir
  13. Melt chocolate chips and remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over low heat or in the microwave; mixture will get very thick
  14. Add chocolate to the filling still in the mixer and combine thoroughly
  15. Pour chocolate batter over crust and bake for 15 minutes
  16. Remove from oven and pour remaining cheesecake filling on top
  17. Bake for 33-38 minutes or until edges begin to separate from foil and middle bounces slightly when touched
  18. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight
  19. Remove cheesecake from pan and cut into bars

Notes:

Adapted from this recipe which was adapted from The Curvy Carrot

I used light cream cheese because I wanted a final product that wasn’t overly rich, but regular cream cheese would work as well

When cutting the bars, I recommend cleaning your knife with a paper towel between slices to keep from contaminating the layers with one another

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cheesecake 11

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23 Responses to “Black and White and Loving Vanilla Bean”

  1. Madison M February 9, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    I’m a sucker for high quality (ie: expensive) coffee, really great bread (Great Harvest is my favorite) and expensive butter to spread on that bread.

    The bars look delicious! :)

  2. Bethany @Bridezilla Bakes February 9, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

    Those look incredible!! I’ve never used a *real* vanilla bean before — I’ve heard that they work wonders. My husband LOVES vanilla-flavored things, so I might have to try these, and take the plunge on high quality vanilla beans soon!

  3. Liz @ Blog is the New Black February 9, 2011 at 10:13 pm #

    I don’t even like cheesecake- but this looks fantastic!

  4. Veronica February 10, 2011 at 12:12 am #

    LOVE it! Girl, you totally rocked these black and white bars, but I hope you have something else planned for your sister, who the day is for, after all. Come on now!

    • KeepItSweet February 10, 2011 at 6:40 am #

      Oh, don’t worry. You know I do:-)

  5. Kristina February 10, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    My mom used to make these-I haven’t had one in forever!!!

  6. Lauren February 10, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    I love the little black specks that vanilla beans give to desserts – I actually use vanilla bean paste for the same effect but lower price!

    • KeepItSweet February 10, 2011 at 9:47 am #

      Oh, I need to find that! Does it have the same quality of flavor?

  7. Sprinkled with flour February 10, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    I love the vanilla bean and cookie crumbs in this:) I don’t have anything too pricey in my cabinets, but I love my Madagascar vanilla.

  8. Rachel @ The Avid Appetite February 10, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    First and foremost, I can’t imagine anything better than an Oreo crust. But vanilla bean cheesecake?! Yes please! Wishing I was attending this party so I could get my hands on some! :)

    • KeepItSweet February 11, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

      You should crash:-)

  9. gingerbreadbagels February 10, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    Oh those look sooo good. I absolutely love using vanilla beans in recipes. :)

  10. Jennifer February 10, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    can’t wait to try them next weekend!!

  11. peabody February 10, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

    Wow, that looks super yummy. I love the double layer.

  12. Simply Life February 10, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    i can’t live without some kind of nut butter! these look amazing!

    also, to answer your question – I used canned fava beans …I couldn’t find fresh ones anywhere!

    • KeepItSweet February 11, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

      I’ll have to look for canned now! I think fresh are really only around during the summer.

  13. Lot-O-Choc February 11, 2011 at 4:41 am #

    Oh yum, this looks amazingly good…anything with Oreos in it does it for me yum!

  14. Joanne February 11, 2011 at 7:25 am #

    Vanilla beans really are a great way of elevating a dessert from good to OMG good. You are a such a sweet sister doing all of this for the cocktail party! If I were your sister, I would break my gluten-free diet for one of these. They look too good to resist.

    • The Sister February 11, 2011 at 4:39 pm #

      It’s tempting but then again it’s tempting to break it with everything she makes…

  15. Jenn (Cookies Cupcakes Cardio) February 11, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    I have never tried using a vanilla bean. I love the taste, but for some reason, the idea of scraping the bean seemed too hard. Thanks for the tutorial, and I’ll have to try it out now.

  16. Jen @ keepitsimplefoods February 12, 2011 at 9:18 am #

    These are a dream! I agree that vanilla bean is divine. I need to stop “cheaping out” with the extract and go for the beans!

  17. Peggy February 12, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    I love using vanilla beans! This looks so great! I’m a sucker for saffron!

  18. Amanda @ AmandaRunsNY February 18, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    At first, I was thinking that this recipe looked really great but then I saw the vanilla beans and started drooling.