For Chocolate Lovers only

Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

Tips: Rich as Croesus, these immensely popular bars take time to put together, but they are not difficult to make. In fairness, I must tell you that they are difficult to cut, but it can be done with a good sharp knife and a deal of patience, and I think they’re more than worth the effort required here. A top layer of lightly sweetened sour cream, a layer of chocolate cheesecake, and a brownie crust…and did I mention the layer of raspberry jam? These will keep for at least a week in the fridge (in an airtight container), but note that they do not freeze. Remember that most people will want a knife and fork to eat these, so, while they’re not the thing for a bake sale or a formal party, they are great for just about any other occasion. Perfect when paired with coffee!

You’ll need a sturdy, handheld electric mixer and a 13 by 9 inch pan to make these; the pan MUST be 2 inches tall. I do preparation for the components simultaneously (if I’m measuring sugar for the topping, for instance, it makes sense to me to measure the sugar I’ll need for the other components at the same time).

Yield: 32 or more bars


  • 2 cups dairy sour cream, well-stirred before measuring
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

  • Cheesecake Filling
  • 6 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 eggs, graded “large”, at room temperature

  • Brownie Crust
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into thin pats
  • 1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 eggs, graded “large”, preferably at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt

  • Raspberry Jam
  • 1/2 cup good-quality seedless red raspberry jam, well-stirred


Line a 13 by 9 inch pan (at least 2 inches tall) with heavy-duty aluminum foil, shiny side up, pressing out as many creases as possible and folding back any excess against the outside edges of the pan. Adjust rack to center of oven.

Although the topping will be used last, I prepare it first and allow it to stand at room temperature, covered, so it will be ready when I need it. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix very thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap; set aside at room temperature until needed.

You won’t prepare the entire cheesecake layer now, but you must make part of it here so it has a chance to cool somewhat before it’s added to the remaining cheesecake batter. In small heatproof bowl, combine finely chopped chocolate and heavy cream. Place over simmering water on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl). Stir frequently until almost melted. Remove from heat and hot water; dry bowl bottom and sides. Stir until mixture is smooth and melted. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally. The rest of the cheesecake layer will wait a little while.

For brownie layer: In 2 quart, heavy-bottomed, nonaluminum saucepan, combine chopped chocolate and butter. Stir over very low heat until almost melted. Remove from heat; stir until completely melted and smooth. Allow to cool 10 to 15 minutes. While this mixture cools, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

After 10 or 15 minutes, add sugar and vanilla to melted chocolate mixture. With slotted spoon, stir well to combine. Add eggs, one at a time, beating in each egg until combined (chocolate mixture will smooth out somewhat after last egg is incorporated). Add flour and salt; stir in just until batter is mixed together. Turn batter into prepared pan and spread level.

For raspberry jam layer: Warm the jam by heating it in a small saucepan over very low heat (stirring often) just until warm and smooth; do not boil it! (Alternatively, warm in microwave at 50% (medium) power for very brief intervals, stirring well after each, just until warm and smooth.) Drizzle jam all over the top of the brownie layer, keeping it away from each edge by about 1/4 inch. Set pan aside briefly.

Now, back to the cheesecake layer. In large bowl, combine softened cream cheese, sugar, salt, and vanilla. With sturdy handheld electric mixer, beat at medium speed, scraping bowl and beater(s) often, until perfectly smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating in each at a low speed just until incorporated (again, scrape bowl and beater(s) often throughout this process so cheesecake layer will be smooth). Give the melted chocolate mixture another stir before adding; if it’s still slightly warm, that’s OK. Pour this chocolate mixture into the cheesecake batter. Stir in thoroughly with large spoon or rubber spatula, trying to avoid getting excess air into the batter.

Pour the chocolate cheesecake batter over the large spoon or spatula onto the raspberry-jam-topped brownie layer. If necessary, spread cheesecake layer level. Place in preheated oven. Bake 22 to 30 minutes, turning pan back-to-front about halfway through baking time.

Check after about 22 minutes of baking. The edges of the cheesecake filling should be puffed and risen, with cracks in them, while the center should still appear not set. If necessary, bake 5 to 8 minutes longer (I always end up baking this for 30 minutes in my oven). Do not overbake. If you see any large bubbles of filling that have risen up, prick them with a toothpick. When done, remove to cooling rack and close oven door; TURN OVEN OFF.

Working quickly, pour sour cream topping in a thin stream all over top of cheesecake filling. Spread as evenly as possible with the back of a large spoon, but don’t fuss too much with the topping. Return the pan to the TURNED OFF oven and allow to stand 5 minutes. Remove to cooling rack.

Cool briefly at room temperature, then chill, covering tightly when cold. Allow to chill at least four to six hours before cutting into bars.

To cut, use a large, sharp, heavy, straight-edged knife. Remove the uncut block, still in foil, from the baking pan (carefully! it’s heavy and not particularly solid) and place on a large cutting board. Gently peel back foil from edges. Rinse the knife blade with hot water, then shake off; do not dry. Cut off about 1/4 inch of each edge before cutting these into bars. Press down firmly with the length of the blade to cut the block, and remember to run the knife blade under hot water (shaking it off but not drying it) after every cut or so. Use a small offset spatula to help remove bars from the still-uncut portion of the block. You can cut these into 32 bars, but they’re so rich I often make more than that. Store these in a single layer, not touching, in a foil or wax paper lined airtight storage container for up to a week (in the fridge, of course).

To serve, remove as many as you’ll need from the fridge (be patient! They sometimes stick to the foil or wax paper; use a small offset spatula to help) and place on a serving plate (or plates). Cover loosely so that the cover doesn’t touch the bars (I sometimes use an upside down pot) and allow to stand at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes before serving. Please do not omit this step! I know you will, but I’ve tried these both cold from the fridge and with the chill off, and they have a much fuller flavor in the latter state.

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