Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars

Who’s up for a back-to-school treat?

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars are the perfect way to kick off fall and back to school.

I sure am, even though it’s now officially been over 10 years since I’ve been in school. But I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t want some Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars in their life?


I realize it’s not been too long since I posted my last cheesecake recipe, but when you’ve got something good going on I’m all about celebrating it. And when the ideas are flowing I’m always anxious to share them all with you!

These Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars are definitely my jam. They’re the perfect size, meaning you don’t feel completely laden with alllll the dairy after devouring a huge piece. And did I mention they’re full of one of my favorite flavor combinations ever? Yep, in case you didn’t know, I’m a huge fan and could eat PB&J basically every day of my life until the end of time if given the opportunity.

It’s peanut butter-jelly time, my friends.

These Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars are the perfect back-to-school treat for your little ones!

Let me tell you, we are not skimping on any flavor here. Even though it doesn’t seem like much, the peanut butter and jelly flavors really shine along with the cheesecake. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a huge fan of the Classic New York-Style Cheesecake but, especially at this time of year with school starting up again and fall creeping back onto the scene, it’s fun to mix it up and sneak in some classic childhood combos.

So, what do you think? Ready to hear how perfected the ultimate Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars? You’re going to be blown away by how easy this is…

A bite of these Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars is all you need to soak your day's worries away!

First, we start with a peanut butter-y graham cracker crust. All that’s required for this step is graham crackers, peanut butter, butter and a food processor. That’s it! Pulse it all together and press it into a square baking dish lined with parchment paper. We bake it off just a tad to get things to set a crisp up a bit, then we’re off to the races with our strawberry jelly swirled cheesecake batter!

The first step to Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars: a peanut butter-graham cracker crust!

True to my usual habits, I stuck to using one block of regular cream cheese and one block of light cream cheese for my batter base. Remember, we’re all about that balance! It’s all very similar to my other cheesecake recipes, so if you’ve made either of those before (and even if you’ve not) you’re in good shape to whip these up tonight.

Once the cheesecake batter is poured all over the peanut butter-y graham cracker crust, you’re going to want to strategically place some hefty dollops of your favorite jam or jelly over top. We’re incredibly lucky to have a huge store of homemade jams on hand from my in-laws, so I opted for some classic strawberry, but you can really use any flavor you like.

Drag the dollops through the batter with a knife or toothpick, and you’ll get the beautiful swirly look you see in the photos.

Delicious strawberry jam is swirled through the cheesecake batter in these Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars right before baking.

Into the oven (no water bath required) for a quick 30-ish minutes, then some time to set up in the refrigerator, and you’ll have you AND your kids’ new favorite after-school snack sliced up and ready to devour as soon as they get home from school (or as soon as 5 o’clock rolls around and you’re done with work if you don’t have kids of your own.)

It doesn’t seem like much, but what this recipe lacks in difficulty it most definitely does not lack in flavor. The peanut butter in the crust carries through the entire bar and meets up with the strawberry jam that’s perfectly swirled through the cheesecake, giving you all three flavors in every single bite.

A close-up look at super-tasty Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars.

If these Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars aren’t the perfect September treat, I don’t know what is!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars are the perfect way to kick off fall and back to school.
Print
Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

 Combining a classic back-to-school flavor pairing - peanut butter and jelly - with creamy cheesecake, all in easy handheld bar form. The perfect after-school snack!

Course: Dessert
Servings: 12 bars
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the graham cracker crust:
  • 8 full sheets graham crackers
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite jam or jelly
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9x9-inch glass baking dish with parchment paper, leaving an inch or two hanging off the sides. Set aside.

  2. Now, make the crust. Combine graham crackers, peanut butter and butter in a food processor and pulse until crumbly yet sticky. Press this mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake in the 325 degree oven for 10 minutes. 

  3. While crust is baking, prepare the cheesecake filling. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream cheeses, eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla and sour cream. 

  4. Remove crust from oven and increase oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour cheesecake batter over the graham cracker crust.

  5. Place jam or jelly in a small ramekin and microwave for 20 seconds. Scoop dollops of jam evenly over top of cheesecake batter, then drag a knife or toothpick through the dollops to create a swirl pattern. 

  6. Bake cheesecake in 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden and the middle is still slightly jiggly. Let rest, out of the oven, until cool enough to touch and then transfer to the refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least a few hours or overnight.

  7. Remove cheesecake from the refrigerator and, using the overhanging parchment paper, pull bars out of the baking dish and onto a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut the cheesecake into 12 bars. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars | CaliGirlCooking.com

Patriotic Cheesecake Bites

This is a very rare day where we get to call a Monday a Friday. Let’s take full advantage of it with some Patriotic Cheesecake Bites!

The cupcake liners of these Patriotic Cheesecake Bites peel away to reveal three layers of brownie, cheesecake and blueberry compote.

Let’s be real, I’m pretty dang excited to tell you about these little bites of heaven. After all, how often do you get the taste of rich red velvet brownies, creamy cheesecake and refreshing blueberry compote all in the size of a cupcake? Not very often, I’m betting.


I’m not gonna lie, these Patriotic Cheesecake Bites were a labor of love. In fact, I didn’t even attempt to photograph them the first time around because I knew it would be a recipe that needed a lot of refining. Well, I’m happy to say that my hard work paid off, and now I have delicious layered cheesecake bites to tell you all about!

These Patriotic Cheesecake Bites feature three layers of red velvet brownie, cheesecake and blueberry compote. The perfect bite-size festive dessert for 4th of July!

But first, tell me what you all are doing to celebrate 4th of July?? Did you take today off so you could have a four day weekend? Or are you stuck at your desk today madly trying to get things done so you can cut out of work early and TGIF the heck out of Monday?

The hubs and I had a nice relaxing weekend at home, full of lots of time out in the sun enjoying some beach volleyball and, as we do every weekend, cooking up oh so many delicious things! I made cinnamon rolls on Saturday morning and Sunday morning I finished up the cheesecake bites. Last night the hubs smoked up a tri tip after we did a little new car research, since we’re hoping to upgrade before baby comes in October. Right now we’re looking at either a 2017 Subaru Forester (I currently drive a 2010) or Honda Pilot. Any thoughts/input are welcome!!

The cupcake wrappers on these Patriotic Cheesecake Bites peel away to reveal red, white and blue layers of deliciousness!

We also leave for our babymoon in a week and a half (Kauai, here we come!) so unfortunately neither of us was able to take today off of work, but we’re definitely planning on relaxing with some beach time, friends and more delicious food tomorrow. I can hardly wait. I think every week should only be a four-day work week.

Okay, but I digress, and I need to keep this fairly short because I’ve got things to do and relaxing to commence. Let’s talk about these Patriotic Cheesecake Bites.

A big cake stand full of Patriotic Cheesecake Bites. The perfect dessert to celebrate the 4th of July!

They’re a little more time-consuming than just-your-average cupcake, but not nearly as bad as whipping up an entire full-size cheesecake. There are three layers, so three main steps to the process, but none of them takes very long because we’re talking cupcake-size portions.

The first layer is a rich, chocolate-y red velvet brownie. I’m the first to admit that I’m a BIG chocolate-lover, so this layer came out more of a darker red than a bright, vibrant red, but trust me, the extra chocolate flavor is worth it.

The first layer of Patriotic Cheesecake Bites: red velvet brownie!

The second layer is a classic cheesecake, which I based off of my Classic New York-Style Cheesecake I made a while back. The great news is that for these Patriotic Cheesecake Bites we don’t need to worry about the hassle of a water bath, and they cook sooooo much quicker.

The second layer of Patriotic Cheesecake Bites: creamy New York-style cheesecake!

The third and final layer is a fresh blueberry compote. You guys, this is the proverbial “icing on the cake.” I based my recipe off of this one from Martha Stewart, and added in a little gelatin to make sure the compote set enough to eventually peel off the cupcake liners and reveal the festive red, white and blue layers.

The third layer of Patriotic Cheesecake Bites: blueberry compote!

That’s it! So easy. The first time I made these, I tried making them in my mini cheesecake pan, but even with a generous coating of cooking spray they stuck quite a bit and were hard to pop out. The next time around, I decided to go with a classic cupcake pan with liners (I used these fun Fourth of July ones from Amazon!) and that turned out to be soooo much easier. If you don’t want things to get too messy, you can serve the bites right in the wrappers, or if you want people to really see why you call these “Patriotic Cheesecake Bites,” peel off the papers to reveal the surprise.

These Patriotic Cheesecake Bites are the perfect fun, festive dessert for Fourth of July!

So what do you think? Have I motivated you yet to try these out tomorrow? Better yet, get them started and into the refrigerator tonight, and you won’t have to spend any time in the kitchen tomorrow. More time to enjoy sunshine and good friends!

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Patriotic Cheesecake Bites | CaliGirlCooking.com
Print
Patriotic Cheesecake Bites
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
1 hrs
 

These individually-sized festive bites feature layers of red velvet brownie, classic cheesecake and blueberry compote to make the perfect treat for the Fourth of July!

Course: Dessert
Servings: 2 dozen
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the red velvet brownie layer:
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red food coloring
  • 1/4 teaspoon white vinegar
For the cheesecake layer:
  • 8 ounces regular cream cheese
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
For the blueberry compote layer:
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line 2 dozen cupcake tins with cupcake liners.

  2. First, make the brownie layer. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. 

  3. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Add this mixture to the butter mixture and beat until combined. 

  4. Beat in the food coloring and vinegar.

  5. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the brownie batter into each of the cupcake tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven to cool slightly, leaving oven heated to 350 degrees for baking the next layer.

  6. Next, make the cheesecake layer. In a clean stand mixer bowl, beat together the cream cheeses, sugar and eggs. 

  7. Add the flour, vanilla extract, sour cream, lemon zest and salt and beat until combined.

  8. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of the cheesecake batter in the cupcake tins on top of the red velvet brownie layer. Return cupcake pans to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until cheesecake is set and not jiggly, Remove and let cool while you make the third layer.

  9. For the blueberry compote, combine all ingredients except the gelatin in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the blueberries break down and a gel-ish liquid forms, about 8-10 minutes. 

  10. Turn off the heat and stir in the gelatin. Let sit for 5 minutes, then scoop 1 tablespoon of the blueberry compote over each of the cheesecake bites.

  11. Refrigerate cheesecake bites at least 2 hours or overnight. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. You can serve them in their cupcake wrappers or remove the papers to reveal the patriotic layers. 

Patriotic Cheesecake Bites | CaliGirlCooking.com

Classic New York-Style Cheesecake

Sometimes, it’s the little things.

Classic New York-Style Cheesecake | CaliGirl Cooking

Birthdays are strange. Some years, they fall into place with celebrations that seem to go on for weeks. Others, you feel the urge to just take it easy, not make a huge deal out of it, and spend quality time with the ones you love. Sometimes, all you need is cheesecake.


Yesterday was Chris’ 30th birthday. I’d been asking him what he wanted to do for months, but hadn’t been able to get a solid answer out of him. Usually, I’d be the type of person to put something together anyhow, reach into my event planner background and make something happen. But you see, this here life has gotten me a little crazy for the time being, and between running the blog, working full time, and planning a wedding, I just didn’t have the mental capacity to get creative and think of something on my own. And I told him so.

He knows that I love him deeply, that I would do anything for him, but he also understands everything that I am trying to do right now and supports me 100%. He knows I’m stretched just a bit thin right now. He’s such an easy-going person, and although I know he would have loved to have gotten together with all of his friends this weekend, near and far, I knew he’d also be pretty darn content just relaxing and enjoying a few days off with me. We weren’t able to coordinate getting a big group together, and we couldn’t bring ourselves to spend a ton of money on concert tickets or a big trip with this thing called a wedding looming before us.

But that’s the thing about knowing you’ve found the right person, that you’re about to share the rest of your life with this one human being…You don’t NEED all of that. Yes, it’s a bonus, but at the end of the day, this is the person you are going to have by your side through the good times and the bad, the person that supports you through everything and loves you unconditionally. So you’re perfectly content spending your big 3-0 with just your person by your side, enjoying each others’ company. Oh, and cheesecake, did I mention there was cheesecake?

Classic New York-Style Cheesecake | CaliGirl Cooking

Cheesecake is Chris’ FAVORITE dessert, and from the moment I started asking him what he wanted for his birthday (to do, eat or otherwise), the only solid answer I got out of him was that he wanted cheesecake. Not a fancy, flavored cheesecake (as my creative culinary aspirations would typically lead me to whip up) but a classic, standard, New York-style cheesecake.

I’ve made cheesecake in some form or other before, but never one big, classic cheesecake. I was a bit intimidated but ready to do anything to get my man what he wanted for his birthday. Remember that thing I mentioned back in this post about getting into the kitchen and trying new things? You gotta do it! Trust me, it never turns out to be as intimidating as it seems.

Classic New York-Style Cheesecake | CaliGirl Cooking

So, back to this cheesecake, I did some research and was eventually able to come up with what I thought would make a pretty darn good Classic New York-Style Cheesecake. Now, we all know that cheesecake is not THE healthiest dessert in the book (okay, it’s probably one of the least healthy!) but we also know I’m all about that balance and, if my man wants cheesecake, my man gets cheesecake. I may have thrown in a couple of minor tweaks to help myself not feel so bad about the calorie count, but the thing about balanced living (and eating) is we know we’ll make up for it with healthier dishes the rest of the time, like kale salads and minestrone soup!

As I mentioned before, this recipe may seem intimidating, but if you break it down it’s actually pretty darn easy, and the end result is so worth it! We start with a graham cracker crust that we pre-bake just a little bit to make sure it’s not too soggy once we add the cheesecake filling. We then make our cheesecake filling, sneaking in one package of “light” cream cheese (amongst the four packages the recipe calls for – insert monkey covering eyes emoji here) and we also use light sour cream instead of regular. Aren’t we feeling better already?

The trickiest part of this recipe is the way the cake pan is prepared and how the cheesecake is cooked. We use a springform pan, for ease of removing the cheesecake once it’s done. We then wrap the bottom of the pan in aluminum foil, and place the unbaked cheesecake (once ready to go into the oven) in a water bath. This helps create a steam bath of sorts that enables the cheesecake filling to cook all the way without burning too much.

Classic New York-Style Cheesecake | CaliGirl Cooking

Classic New York-Style Cheesecake | CaliGirl Cooking

There is a bit of prep time, so you’ll want to plan in advance when making this. The cheesecake itself takes over an hour to bake, and then you have to let it cool all the way BEFORE placing it in the refrigerator to set overnight. So, as long as you’re cool with waiting and have a couple of days before you’re ready to actually eat the cheesecake, this recipe will be a snap for you.

This Classic New York-Style Cheesecake is dense, rich, moist and incredibly delicious. It’s creamy, with hints of vanilla and lemon zest. You don’t need much to feel satisfied, which means you won’t be left with a heavy, uncomfortable gut and you can still carry on with your (healthier) day-to-day eating. It’s a special occasion cake for sure, but that’s what birthdays are for!

Classic New York-Style Cheesecake | CaliGirl Cooking

I love hearing about how others celebrate their birthdays (nothing like living vicariously through all of you!) What are the birthday dessert traditions in your family? What is your one special request when your birthday rolls around? Let me know in the comments below!

Classic New York-Style Cheesecake

Yield: Makes one 9-inch cake

A classic recipe for creamy, decadent New York-style cheesecake with hints of vanilla and lemon.

Ingredients

  • 24 graham crackers (full sheets), crushed (about 3 ¼ cups)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 24 ounces regular block cream cheese (3 packages)
  • 8 ounces lite block cream cheese (1 package)
  • 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • ½ cup light sour cream
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Wrap the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan in aluminum foil. Spray the inside of the pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. To prep the crust, combine graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and melted butter in a large mixing bowl. Pour mixture into springform pan and press into bottom to form the crust. Bake in 350 degree oven for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  3. Next, prep the cheesecake filling. Combine all cream cheese and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, beating until combined. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add flour, vanilla bean paste, sour cream and salt. Beat once again until combined. Fold in lemon zest.
  4. Now it’s time to prep the water bath. Fill a large roasting pan or rectangular cake pan with about one inch of water. Place springform pan (still wrapped in foil) in water bath. Pour cheesecake batter into pan once it’s in the water bath. Place entire setup in 350 degree oven and bake for 70 to 80 minutes, or until cheesecake seems set and is just barely jiggly.
  5. Remove entire setup from oven, then remove cheesecake from water bath. Place cheesecake (still in springform pan) on a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Once completely cooled, remove the cheesecake from the springform pan, transfer to a plate, and refrigerate overnight. Serve the next day.
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Classic New York-Style Cheesecake | CaliGirl Cooking

Such a beaut!