Easy Dessert

Some desserts have a reputation for being difficult to make. No one bats an eye if you show up with a plate of chocolate chip cookies, but if you bring cheesecake to the office, people are wowed.

“I could never make cheesecake,” they say. “It’s so hard!”

I’m here to bust that myth. Cheesecake is waaaay easier than you may think. Cream the cream cheese with some sugar, beat in a few eggs and pour it over a graham cracker crust. Bake for an hour or so, and let it cool. So much less involved than scooping individual individual cookies onto tray after tray.

And that’s why I whipped up a pan of these Oreo cheesecake bars for dessert with friends a few weeks ago. They’re easy to put together, and cheesecake is always a hit with everyone in our social circle. Plus, I almost always have cream cheese in the fridge.

The recipe calls for Oreos, but I can confirm that they work just as well with the off-brand / Aldi version of everyone’s favorite sandwich cookie. And since the off-brand package apparently has fewer cookies, I can also confirm that the filling is just as good with 10 Oreos instead of 12.

The four of us managed to not eat the entire pan that night, so I told Andy to leave the leftovers alone until I could photograph them. And he did, mostly. I mean, there are still three squares on that plate. ūüôā


Oreo Cheesecake Squares 

For the crust: 
23 Oreo cookies, crushed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling: 
12 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons sour cream, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
12 Oreo cookies, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 325¬į and line a 8″ x 8″ baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on each end of the pan to use as a sling.

In a medium bowl, combine the cookie crumbs and the melted butter. Stir until the mixture is evenly combined. Spread the cookie crumbs in the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and maintain the oven temperature.

To make the filling, beat the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until it is light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar to the cream cheese and beat until well-combined. Mix in the sour cream, vanilla and salt. Beat in the egg and egg yolk until combined, scraping down the bowl as needed.

Use a rubber spatula to fold in the chopped Oreo cookies. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and smooth the top with the spatula. Bake until the cheesecake is set around the edges but slightly jiggly in the center, about 40 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Cover the pan and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least three hours. (I left mine in the fridge overnight.) 

To cut the bars, use the foil as a sling and remove them from the pan. Place the bars on a cutting board and remove the foil. Use a large chef’s knife to slice the bars into equal-sized squares. Refrigerate cut bars until serving.

From Annie’s Eats, who adapted it from The Recipe Girl, originally from You Made That Dessert?¬†by Beth Lipton

Click here for a printable version.

The Benefits of a Well-Stocked Pantry

I do my best to “shop the perimeter” at the grocery store. I don’t load the cart up with chips, pop, and frozen dinners. We eat our veggies. In fact, if people are judging me based on what’s in my grocery cart, they’re probably thinking, “Someone call Hoarders; this woman has gone crazy in the cream cheese section,” rather than, “lay off the chips, lady.”¬†

(What?! Bricks of cream cheese for $1 each? This girl is stocking up; you never know when a cheesecake emergency will strike. And by emergency, I mean, “It’s been a while since I made cheesecake, and I am really jonesing for one right about now.” Ahem.) ūüėĬ†

There are exceptions to every rule though. And at our house, these exceptions live in a Rubbermaid tub on the pantry shelf, in between the 10 bags of sugar (also on sale, I might add. Christmas baking is coming!) and the extra jars I bought when I organized my spice cupboard. What kind of exceptions, you ask?

Reese’s Cups
Hershey Kisses

It’s important to have a well-stocked pantry, you know. That way, you can make whatever you want, whenever the mood strikes. And by “whatever you want,” I mean cookies and cream ice cream. And by “whenever you want,” I mean now. Of course. ūüėÄ

Cookies & Cream Ice Cream
Psst… if you look closely, you’ll notice that I did NOT use actual Oreos for the recipe. This girl is A-OK with generic chocolate sandwich cookies.

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

5 egg yolks (freeze the whites and save them for buttercream!)
1 cup half-and-half
2 cups heavy cream, divided
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I never measure. I just pour till it looks smells good.) 
20 oreos, coarsely chopped

In a medium saucepan, stir the sugar, salt, half and half, and one cup of cream together over medium heat. Heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm and steamy (but not simmering or boiling). Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, pour the remaining cream in a large bowl and set a fine mesh strainer over the top. Set aside.

Whisk the egg yolks together in a medium bowl. (I like to use my two-cup Pyrex measuring cup for this step, as it makes for an easy transfer back into the pan.) Gradually pour the warm cream into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to avoid cooking them. Return the egg mixture to your saucepan and cook it over medium heat, stirring constantly. When the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a metal spoon (right around the 170-175 degree mark, for those of you with thermometers), remove it from the heat.

Pour the cooked custard through the fine mesh strainer and into the cream. Stir to combine, then add vanilla. Thoroughly chill the mixture (either in the fridge or over an ice bath). When the ice cream base is cold (this will take at least a couple hours in the fridge), freeze it in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

After you have churned the ice cream, fold in the chopped oreos. Freeze until firm.

Adapted from Annie’s Eats, who adapted the vanilla base from David Lebovitz’s¬†The Perfect Scoop and the cookies and cream from Pennies on a Platter.

Click here for a printable version!


Oreo Goodness

Friends make everything more fun. Even when you’re doing something that’s already awesome. So when my friend Lacey asked if I wanted to spend an evening making Oreo truffles with her, I jumped at the chance. (I may or may not have sent an all-caps email back to her that read, “I WOULD LOVE TO,” but that’s besides the point.)

These truffles are a great no-bake dessert idea. We’re talking three ingredients here, people. Cream cheese, Oreo cookies and either almond bark or white chocolate. The worst part is waiting for the truffles to freeze up before you can dip them, and then waiting for them to harden before you can eat them. (Not that waiting slowed me down… I made the ultimate sacrifice and took care of the one that I accidentally crushed with my clumsy fingers. Whoops.)

Even if your dipping skills are less than stellar, odds are that they'll be eaten before anyone notices!

Oreo Truffles

1 package Oreo cookies, finely crushed
1 8 oz. block of cream cheese
16 oz. of white chocolate or almond bark

Preheat oven to 200. (Don’t panic; this really is a no-bake recipe. This is just my favorite way to melt chocolate, since I’ve had terrible luck with both the microwave and the double-boiler methods.) Roughly chop the chocolate and place in an oven-safe bowl. Place the bowl in the warm oven, stirring every 10 minutes until the chocolate is smooth and melted.

While the chocolate is melting, combine the oreos* and the cream cheese in a large bowl. Mix together.¬†(I used my hands, as a spoon didn’t seem to work well.)¬†When the mixture is smooth and mostly uniform, form into 1″ balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Freeze until firm, about 20 minutes.

Using a toothpick, or a slotted spoon, or your fingers (do whatever works Рwe used a slotted spoon), dip the frozen truffles into the melted chocolate. Place on a second cookie sheet lined with wax paper (learn from my mistake here Рdo not put them on a cooling rack to dry. They will fuse to the cooling rack, which will result in ripped bottoms. Trust me.) Garnish with reserved cookie crumbs, if desired. (Colored sprinkles would also be cute here, and then you could coordinate it for any occasion!)

*Reserve about two tablespoons of crushed oreos for decorating, if you’d like.

From Chef in Training