My brother has only ever made one request of my blog:
“Can you make something that’s not healthy again? Like those pumpkin pie-stuffed chocolate cupcakes?”
Of course, my brother is the one blessed with a lightning metabolism and is the slender size of a string bean and could probably stay that way living happily off of cookies and fruit tarts for the rest of his life (two of his baking specialties). I gave a noncommittal “eh” (code for: probably not)…and then made cheesecake-stuffed chocolate chip cookie bars.
Only because (1) my roommate and I found ourselves with a very uncharacteristic overabundance of cream cheese in our fridge and I couldn’t think of anything healthy to make with it and (2) these looked really delicious. And (3) this was around the start of the month so my mood was, shall we say, a little irregular.
So I made them. Then looked up the nutrition facts and died. And then realized that the definition of why moderation is necessary was sitting in front of me, so maybe a lesson could be learned. And justified it by the fact that I don’t calculate the nutrition facts of birthday cake and that it was probably someone’s birthday that day anyway. Somewhere in the world, I was sure someone turning 22 (the candle numbers I happened to have). Actually, probably many someones.
In fact, today is someone’s special day. One of my awesome blogger friends who I met in North Carolina! Her name is Kaylie and she blogs at Skinny Muffin. I’m pretty sure (like me) she is a cake person (rather than a cookie person, like both my roommates…something I’m still trying to wrap my head around), but still. One of the many reasons I love her blog is her recent series called “Dietetic Dish” and it’s all about what she’s learned in her nutrition class as she studies to become a dietitian. Thanks to her, I’m committing myself to buying organic eggs (apparently the semi-cheap “vegetarian” eggs I used to buy means nothing in terms of humane chicken treatment.)
Anyway, it’s her birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY KAYLIE! If I had to bet on it, I would bet you are not turning 22. I would bet you are turning at least 23 or 24. But thankfully, 22 has been immortalized, so happy 22nd in spirit! Inside I think we all know it feel like a perfect night…for breakfast at midnight.
Ew. Why did I just do that.
Okay so even if you’re going for full-out indulgence, there are a few swaps you can make to sneak a tiiiny bit more nutrition into whatever you’re making. Here are some of my favorite tips for healthier traditional baking:
- Instead of using all refined white flour, use part whole-grain flour like whole wheat, oat, or buckwheat (I listed my blend in the recipe)
- Use Greek yogurt instead of a half the equivalent portion of butter (i.e. instead of 4 tablespoons of butter, use 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt)
- Reduce the amount of chocolate chips
- In the cheesecake, use half Greek yogurt, half cream cheese instead of all cream cheese
Chocolate chip cheesecake cookie bars
- For the cookie layer:
- ½ cup unsalted butter very soft
- 2/3 cup Morena unrefined cane sugar sugar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar packed
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour I used a blend of ¼ cup all-purpose, ½ cup whole wheat and 6 tablespoons oat flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup chocolate chips
- For the cheesecake:
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened to room temperature*
- 1/3 cup Morena sugar or regular
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8x8” glass pan well (I used the butter wrapper).
- With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars in a small mixing bowl (if the butter is soft enough, you may be able to do the mixing by hand). Add the egg and vanilla; cream again until smooth. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir gently until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
- Cream the cream cheese and sugar together until fluffy (you will probably need an electric mixer to do this properly). Add the egg and vanilla and mix again until well combined.
- Press half of the slightly chilled cookie dough into the bottom of the greased pan. Pour the cream cheese mixture on top. To spread cookie dough on top of the cream cheese layer, I rolled the remaining cookie dough into 1-inch balls and then smashed them, and layered the flattened rounds across the surface, then filled in the gaps with any leftover cookie dough. If there are gaps in the cookie dough, remember that the cookie dough will expand in the oven.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until the top is set—the center may be a tiny bit jiggly, but not catastrophically so. Check earlier if your oven tends to run hot. Let cool, then cut into tiny squares. Unless, of course, you’re the birthday girl/boy, in which you can take a fork to the pan.
Did you try this recipe?Tag @thepancakeprincess on Instagram!
A few other cheesecake recipes for ya:
Healthier Cookie Dough Cheesecake
pancakeprincess, can i just say, i love the way you write? it is so friendly and sweet. you make me smile. thank you! you seem like an awesome person. have a tasty day!
YOU seem like an awesome person!! Thank you so much for the sweet comment, totally made my day! :))) Good luck on your cheesecake quest!
These look so indulgent crazy good Erika!! That’s too funny about your brother, but I swear “healthy” really can taste just as unhealthy as ordinary desserts!! I loooove desserts just like you and this one looks beautiful and AWESOME!! I need to try chocolate chips and “cheesecake” combo together. I came across some cheesecake chocolate chip cookies through an email of the one of the most pinned cookie recipes that Pinterest sent one week several weeks back and have been dying to try the combo!
So true, Brandi. That’s what I love about your blog! I just bought a giant bag of pecans at Costco the other day and am so so so so excited to finally try your pecan butter chocolate chip cookies!!!
Linda | The Urban Mrs
Err…I thought all cakes are healthy and that’s why we save it for the best aka after a very big meal, lol. This cheesecake is totally awesome and I bet each layer brings tons of happiness!
Haha that must be why! I don’t know how I didn’t think of that 🙂
Nancy @ gottagetbaked
Ignorance is bliss, girl! If you’re gonna eat it, don’t look up the nutritional facts! I used to eat a scone every day when I was in undergrad until I discovered how fatty they are because they’re basically butter and flour baked together. Sigh. Calories sure won’t stop me from eating a pan of these cookie bars! I like the way your brother thinks.
I know, I know. I don’t know why I even try. Ugh. Fatty food I used to hate: scones. Fatty food I now love: scones. Sadness. They are SO good!!!
Two Red Bowls
“So I made them. Then looked up the nutrition facts and died.” HAHA I died when I read that. This has happened to me so many times, I can’t even think about it. But it’s worth it when the desserts look as tasty as yours do! Love this idea. I’ll have to save it for when I have a lot of friends over to give these to (/ keep them away from me) 🙂
Ha I knowwww. It’s the worst part of baking, by far. Usually I don’t even bother with desserts like this! But yes, you are spot on with that having-friends-over strategy so you don’t eat half the pan like I was about to!
Melanie @ HappyBeingHealthy
Wow, those look amazing and your pictures are gorgeous!!
Thanks so much Melanie!
how about eating these to reminisce about turning 22…it was a great year!
Haha, that’s a good one too!
Couldn’t find something healthy to do with your blocks of cream cheese–you mean I’ve been fooling myself all these years thinking eating cream cheese straight from the packet would at least get me a good dose of calcium? No wonder string-bean-thin men are all speeding past me while I sit here with my spoon 😉 go all the way or go home, I say, on these desserts. I’m lucky to have stumbled across your blog on tastespotting, and hope this comment has paid you back just a bit in kind for your lovely humor and writing. #newfollowerforyouuu <3
Haha woman that comment just made my day! Thanks for stopping by and leaving your lovely comment 🙂 Sigh. Those string bean thin men are speeding past me and my peanut butter jar too 🙁
Shikha @ Shikha la mode
Lucky for you that cheesecake is my all-time favorite dessert ever. Love this! Hope your birthday had a good birthday!!
Oh yeahhh!! Do you like Greek yogurt cheesecake? It is my one true love. And haha it sounded like she had a lovely birthday!
Oh my goodness, these look amazing Erika! Hehe, that’s so funny that your brother has the sweet tooth. I’m all for indulgent treats here and there – everything in moderation 🙂
Kristi @ My San Francisco Kitchen
Those look to die for!!
OH MY GOD! Good minds think a like — without even reading your post, I made these exact bars today for the soccer team at my school! What a coincidence!
Ahaha we are brain twins!!! (I wish.) The only thing that would have made this better, now that I’m thinking about it, is if we’d swirled some nutella through the cheesecake layer…but knowing you, you might have already done that! 🙂
Your brother is hilarious, hehe! Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts, and now I’m into their raw cheesecakes 🙂
Haha thanks Jennifer. He’ll be happy to hear that!
Kaylie @ Skinny Muffin
1. You are SO nice to give a birthday shout out to me. We are OFFICIALLY blog best friends. And I feel honored to know such a talented baker. 2. I AM 22 today! HOW WEIRD [and perfect] IS THAT?!?!?!?!?!? SO COOL. 3. It’s Dietetic Dish, not Diabetic Dish, but I got a totally awesome laugh out of that haha. 4. THESE LOOK SERIOUSLY AMAZING. Even though 99% of your stuff is healthy (and always looks delicious), you really outdo yourself with you 1% unhealthy recipes. I am practically drooling on my computer right now.
Ahaha omg embarrassing. When I was typing that I literally did a mental head tilt and was like “hmm that doesn’t seem completely right…” but forged ahead anyway because I am silly. The Dish is fixed, thank you for alerting me to that 🙂
Also I totally wish I could beam these over to you!! Although I’m sure you’re having some amazing birthday treats anyway (I want to see a recap on your blog! Is that weird? I love food stalking.)
And YAY 22!!! I knew those candles would come in handy someday! And thanks for all the kind words, as always 🙂
Alex @ Cookie Dough Katzen
Oh my yum! I’m with your brother! Haha these look amazing. I say eat healthy meals and enjoy crazy desserts 🙂
Haha that is a good philosophy to live by…I might adopt it too!
You leave me speechless every time i visit your blog. Okay, maybe not completely speechless as i have this to say about this post…. OMG WHAT ARE U SERIOUS U ARE A GENIUS CHEESECAKE N COOKIES TOGETHER?????? *breath* Seriously… wow. Now, i’m going to go eat my packaged chips ahoy cookies and imagine i’m eating yours.
Oh stop ittt. Har har thanks 🙂 But don’t give me too much credit–it’s been done before! I’m curious how this would fit into a IIFYM diet…I’ve really been toying with starting IIFYM, partly thanks to your blog!
Your brother’s a really smart guy… these look amazing!