Monday, July 26, 2010

oreo cheesecake bars

One time, as my sister and I were on our way out the door of her place, I grabbed an Oreo for the ride down the elevator. As I was eating it, she was telling me that she's been purchasing the reduced fat Oreos for a while.  Did you know that the difference in fat lies in the cream, and not the cookie?  And apparently there is an evident contrast in taste between the full fat and reduced fat Oreo.  But you'd only know that if you've had a taste test comparison.  She tells me that its best to stick to the reduced fat version because once you know that there's better out there, you might not want to go back (or its harder to go back) to those "healthier" ways.  I wholeheartedly agree.

The last time I made a cheesecake was way back when.  It was also the last time I tasted a full-fat calorie laden cheesecake composed to regular cream cheese and regular sour cream.  I can't say cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts, but I really do enjoy making them.  Before now, I was under the erroneous impression that you needed a stand mixer to make a cheesecake and a spring form pan.  I was wrong.  Cheesecakes need to be well blended and smooth.  You can easily use a food processor or a powerful blender.  You can also wrap your pans in foil for easy removal in lieu of a spring form.  After this baking endeavor without the "appropriate" kitchen tools, I can tell you that you too can make a really good cheesecake at home.  Especially the kind I'm about to tell you about.  One of the things you wouldn't know after eating these cheesecake bars is that it's composed of healthier alternative ingredients.  I think it's good, and other people thought it was good.  But I also have to say, I think everyone who tried it hasn't eaten a regular classic cheesecake in a while either.  So I don't recommended taste test comparisons, but I can assure you this version tastes like the real deal from what I can recall. Haha.

Adapted from AllRecipes.com & EatCaliforniaFruit
Ingredients:
22 oreo sandwich cookies
3 tbsp butter, melted
12 oz neufchatel (less fat) cream cheese, room temperature (approx. 1.5 eight oz packages)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup plain yogurt, room temperature
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
pinch of salt

Directions:
1) Preheat the oven to 325F.  Wrap the insides of an 11 x 7" rectangular pan in aluminum foil.
Grease with cooking spray and set aside.

2) Set aside 4 whole oreo cookies to add to the cream cheese mixture.  With the remaining 18 cookies, twist the sandwiched cookies apart and remove the white filling with the back of a butter knife.  Discard this filling.  Place the chocolate cookies in a ziploc bag and crush them with a rolling pin to fine crumbs.  This should make approximately 1.5 cups of oreo crumbs.

3) Add the melted butter to the cookie crumbs and mix.  Pour this mixture into the greased pan.  Form a cookie base in the pan using your hands to spread and push the cookie crumbs into place.  Set aside.

4) In a blender, add plain yogurt and 4 oz of cream cheese.  Blend until a creamy and smooth texture is achieved.  Add an additional 4 oz of cream cheese and repeat process until all of the cream cheese has blended completely with the yogurt.  Add the flour and blend until there are no lumps.

5) In a bowl, beat the eggs with the vanilla, sugar and salt.  Add the cream cheese mixture from the blender into the bowl.  Mix until combined. Do not over beat.

6) Place the remaining 4 whole oreo cookies in a ziploc bag and roughly crush them with a rolling pin.  Be sure not to over-crush them; they should be broken into chunks and not finely crushed.

7) Mix these oreo pieces into the cheesecake filling batter.  Add this mixture to the pan with the oreo base layer.  Spread the batter evenly.

8) Place pan into the middle rack of the oven and bake for 35 minutes.  After 35 minutes, turn off the oven and keep the oven door slightly ajar.  Do not touch the cheesecake.  Let it sit and rest in the oven for approximately 3 hours. 

9) After 3 hours, remove the cheesecake and cover the pan with plastic wrap.  Place it in the fridge and let it sit overnight.  The next day, the cheesecake can be easily removed from the pan by lifting up the aluminum foil.  Slice into 18 servings.  Keep covered under plastic wrap until ready to eat.

10) Savor each bite.  Cheesecake is not to be taken lightly.  Even though this is a lighter version of cheesecake.

As you can see, these cheesecake bars are pretty yellow.  The reason is because I used organic eggs.  The yolks were orange red.  I recommend that regular, non-organic eggs be used!  The batter shouldn't be as yellow.  But if you are concerned, you can also reduce the yolk by one in this recipe (but keep the egg white). The purpose of the egg is to make up for the lack of fat and of cream cheese.  It serves as a binding agent. The flour also helps with gluten formation to keep everything together as well because the yogurt is not very thick!