Monday, August 8, 2011

Orange Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

 Whenever we have a family occasion, we collectively decide on a menu, and then we decide who's gonna make what. The texts and emails start flying, all with the same question: "What do you want me to make?"
So, when I asked Jeanie what she wanted me to make for Emma's shower, she told me she had a recipe in mind that she wanted me to try. It's from a book of recipes that all use a 9x13 pan and it's called The Pan That Can. How fun is that?
 And here we are! It has a few extra steps to it, but it's not difficult to make and SO YUMMY. It has the same vibe as those chocolate know.. the ones you slam on the table to break apart. So, thanx to my Jeanie for finding the recipe. It was a big hit and definitely a keeper! They're perfect for everything from elegant brunch to a huge birthday bash.
You should try 'em, and then let me know how you liked 'em!

1 1/4 cups finely crushed graham crackers
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 c melted butter

3 8oz pkgs cream cheese
1 1/4 c. brown sugar
3 eggs
3 tbs frozen orange juice concentrate thawed
1 tbs finely grated orange peel
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
6 oz semi sweet chocolate, cut up
2 tbs butter

1 1/2 c sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 350F
Line a 9x13 pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Lightly grease foil. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, stir together crust ingredients until well combined. Press evenly into bottom of prepared pan. Chill the crust while you make the filling.
In a large mixing bowl, beat softened cream cheese and brown sugar on medium speed until well mixed. Add eggs one at a time, beating just until combined after each addition. Stir in thawed orange juice concentrate, orange peel, vanilla, and salt. Pour one cup of cheese filling into a medium bowl. Set both bowls aside.
Place chocolate and butter in a nonmetallic bowl. Microwave on high, 20 seconds at a time, stirring after each interval until melted and smooth. Stir chocolate mixture into reserved cup of cream cheese filling. Carefully spread chocolate filling evenly over graham cracker crust. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Carefully pour remaining cheese filling over baked chocolate layer, spreading evenly. Bake 40-45 minutes or just until mixture is set in the center. Remove from oven, cool for 30 minutes in pan on wire rack. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine sour cream and sugar. Cover and let stand at room temp while bars cool. Gently spread sour cream mixture onto bars. Cool for one hour more. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours before cutting into squares. Sprinkle finished squares with cinnamon.

When I made this, it was late at night, so I kinda skipped the steps that involve waiting for it to cool, then doing the topping, then cooling for another hour, etc. I just let it cool completely out of the oven, then topped it with the sour cream, then let it chill in the fridge uncovered for several hours until I was ready to serve. Oh, btw, if you clean your knife by dipping it into hot water before each cut, and use a straight down chopping motion, you'll get much pretty squares.
I didn't have the concentrated orange juice, so I just used 1/2 tsp orange extract + 3 tbs fresh orange juice. I also used chocolate chips instead of the bars of semisweet chocolate. No chopping required!
The original recipe instructed to melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan, but I think it's easier (also less likely to scorch the chocolate) if you use the microwave as I've instructed above. I also took the liberty of rearranging and rephrasing the recipe to make it a little easier to understand.

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