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Caramel Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars


What do you get when you combine three of the best flavors ever into one easy dessert? Caramel Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars, that’s what. And wow, they are incredible.

Two caramel cheesecake stuffed chocolate chip cookie bars stacked on white tray.


One of my most-loved bar cookies in the history of ever is an innocent little recipe posted way back in the dark ages (ahem, 2013) that involves two of my favorite things: cheesecake and cookie dough. 

Fast forward several years. After making and posting these salted caramel brown butter chocolate chip bars, I couldn’t get the idea of combining the gloriousness of both recipes into one.

Enter the ultimate mashup: caramel cheesecake stuffed chocolate chip cookie bars. 

Whoa-good doesn’t even begin to describe the deliciousness of these bars. I didn’t even brown the butter and they were incredible. {My reasons for not doing so: too lazy, it’s summer break, kids everywhere, sometimes you just have to be a cookie bar slacker.} But can you even imagine the amped up caramel flavor explosion if you were to brown the butter first? 

Top down view of crackly top of caramel cheesecake stuffed chocolate chip cookie bar.

The top shelf of cookie dough gets all crackly and kind of flaky and lovely after baking. It’s one of my favorite parts of these bars. 

Despite the four rather intense layers, these bars come together super fast. 

1) Make yourself some basic but delicious cookie dough. No mixer required (thank you, almighty melted butter). Spread half in the bottom of a 9X13-inch pan. 

2) Melt soft caramels (please for the love of Pete unwrap them first) with a little bit of cream in the microwave and spread over the cookie dough.

3) Mix together a quick cheesecake batter and slather that on the caramel. 

Process shots of 9X13-inch pan of cookie dough, then layered caramel, then layered cheesecake.

You can see what’s about to happen here right? THE BEST COOKIE BARS ON THE PLANET ARE ABOUT TO BE STARING YOU IN THE FACE. Prepare your self-control; prepare yourself. 

5) Flatten the rest of the cookie dough and jigsaw piece it across the cheesecake. Don’t strive for perfection here. It’s futile and unneeded. 

6) Bake those bars until golden and set. Let them cool. Refrigerate (don’t skip this…they are SO much better chilled). Cut into squares. Take a deep breath. Eat just one. Walk away. Laugh hilariously at the big fat joke you almost played on yourself. Return and eat a couple more just to make sure they taste ok. 

Side by side unbaked and baked pans of caramel cheesecake stuffed chocolate chip cookie bars.

In the interest of full disclosure, I probably over baked the bars (right there, just above) by a few minutes. The outer edges are a little too brown for my liking. So watch yours a little more closely than I watch mine. The good news is, they still taste dangerously amazing even with a tiny bit of over browning.

These special cookie bars are soft and decadent. Rich and chewy. Each flavor is solidly present without overpowering the other layers. And they actually benefit from being made ahead of time (overnight) and chilled, so go ahead and capitalize on that for a great make-ahead dessert.

Two caramel cheesecake stuffed chocolate chip cookie bars stacked with bite taken out of top bar.

You cannot go wrong with a fantastic cookie bar. For at-home enjoyment or for sharing with others. You just can’t. And sometimes simple is the way to go. But every once in a while, you gotta just hit it out of the park. Go big or go home. Earn some serious rock star points.

When you decide that time is now, these caramel cheesecake stuffed chocolate chip cookie bars will be waiting for you. 

One Year Ago: Steak Fajitas with Chipotle Sour Cream
Two Years Ago: Easy Peanut Butter Fudge Bars
Three Years Ago: BBQ Chicken Salad Cilantro Lime Rice Bowls
Four Years Ago: Soft and Chewy 7-Layer Cookies {Not Bars…Cookies!}
Five Years Ago: Mandarin Broccoli Salad
Six Years Ago: The Best Lemon Bars
Seven Years Ago: Make-Ahead Sausage and Egg Breakfast Bake
Eight Years Ago: Blueberry Fool

Yield:
9X13-inch pan of brownies

Prep Time:
30 minutes

Cook Time:
35 minutes

Additional Time:
4 hours

Total Time:
5 hours 5 minutes

Caramel Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Ingredients

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough:

  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons, 8 ounces) butter, melted and cooled slightly (I use salted butter)
  • 1 1/3 cups (10 ounces) lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup (5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups (13.75 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) chocolate chips

Caramel:

  • 11 to 14 ounces soft caramels, unwrapped
  • 1 tablespoon cream

Cheesecake:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) powdered sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9X13-inch pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper (helps with cleanup), and lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. For the cookie dough, in a large bowl, add the melted butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir together until well-combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.
  3. Stir in the flour and chocolate chips and mix until combined and no dry streaks remain. Press half of the dough evenly on the bottom of the prepared pan.
  4. For the caramel, combine the soft caramels and cream in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 1-minute intervals at 50% power, stirring in between until melted and smooth. Drizzle the warm caramel over the cookie dough and spread into an even layer.
  5. For the cheesecake filling, in a medium bowl, add the cream cheese and powdered sugar and mix with an electric mixer (stand mixer or handheld) on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until evenly combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Spread the cheesecake filling evenly over the caramel layer.
  6. Take the remaining cookie dough and flatten into disc shapes, about 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick. Place the flattened cookie dough over the top of the cheesecake layer. It’s ok if there are small spaces; the entire top doesn’t need to be completely covered just make sure it is mostly covered with cookie dough.
  7. Bake the bars for 35-40 minutes until lightly browned on the edges and mostly set throughout. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Refrigerate bars until well chilled, 2-3 hours (these bars taste even better the next day after chilling). Cut into squares and serve. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze for several months.

Notes

Browning the butter before making the cookie dough will amp up the caramel flavor notes in these cookie bars. Not necessary but totally delicious. My favorite brand of soft caramels are the fleur de sel ones from Trader Joe’s, but any soft caramel you’ve used in the past with good results will work (if using homemade caramel, you’ll want about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups).

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Recipe Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Two caramel cheesecake stuffed chocolate chip cookie bars stacked.

Posted on July 1, 2019 by Mel



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