1 hr 20 mins, plus cooling time
Makes:About 18 bars
If making a cheesecake seems too labor-intensive, these bars are the perfect compromise. With a cookie crust and a swirly chocolate-vanilla filling, they offer the best of the cake without the worries of finding the fancy baking pan. Of course, a perfect cheesecake is impressive, but it’s hard to beat a treat that can be eaten on the go.
Game plan: The cheesecake bars can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated in a covered container.
2 1/2 cups vanilla wafer cookie crumbs, such as Nabisco Nilla Wafers
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted
For the filling:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
4 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
For the crust:
Heat the oven to 325°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
Coat a 13-by-9-inch pan with butter. Place cookie crumbs and melted butter in a medium bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Pour the crumb mixture into the pan and, using the bottom of a cup, press evenly into the bottom and slightly up the sides.
For the filling:
Combine chocolate and butter in a small saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until evenly melted. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
Whisk together sugar and flour in a medium bowl and set aside. Place cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. With the mixer running, pour in sugar-flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Stop the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.
With the mixer on low, add vanilla and then 1 egg, allowing to incorporate completely. Stop the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle. Return the mixer to low and repeat with remaining 2 eggs, allowing each to incorporate completely before adding the next.
Pour 2 3/4 cups of batter from the mixer into a medium bowl and reserve. Add cooled chocolate to the remaining batter in the mixer and beat on medium speed until evenly incorporated.
Randomly drop spoonfuls of chocolate batter over the prepared crust, then drop spoonfuls of reserved vanilla batter in between the chocolate. Drag a knife through the batter in a figure eight to create a marbled pattern. Bake until the outer 1 inch of batter is set and puffed but the center is slightly jiggly, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove to a rack and let cool completely. Refrigerate until well chilled and firm, about 1 to 2 hours. Cut into squares and serve.