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Sunday, August 21, 2011

S'mores Cheesecake Bars

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Today, I turn 25. Weird. Weird because in my head, I still think I’m 21. In fact I sometimes catch myself answering the question “how old are you?” incorrectly. It’s not because I’m worried about growing older (that’s not to say I don’t feel old seeing kids I used to babysit for graduate from HIGH SCHOOL)…I know I have a lot to look forward to in the future, I just seem stuck in this youthful mindset. The years between turning 21 and turning 25 have been fast and furious, but also really fun. I graduated college. I started my first “real” job. I got married. I traveled to 4 countries and at least twice as many states. I watched my husband go through a career change. I transitioned into a job and a career path that I love. I endured several running injuries and many, many tears.  I started this blog. I discovered a passion for cooking. I ran a marathon. I joined a church that became my second family. I started school, again. I made and ate a lot of ice cream.
(me on my actual 21st birthday!)

Whew. I get tired just typing that out, and that isn’t the half of what my last four years have all entailed.
Interestingly enough, I’m not the same person I was at 21. At twenty-five, I’m more sure of myself and what I stand for. I care less about what people think about me, my choices, and my interests. I’m more balanced and more laid back than I was four years ago (I know those of you that know me well are laughing at this, but I promise I am!). I’m more confident in my faith. I’m more careful with my friendships and the people I share my innermost self with.

And yet, in so many other ways, I’m still exactly the same. I am still fiercely loyal to my family and long to be in their company more than anyone else’s (besides Ryan’s of course!). I can still laugh at myself, especially when I find myself in embarrassing situations. I still get choked up during sappy TV or movie moments way more than the average person. And I still love anything s’mores flavored!

These cheesecake bars, another gem from the Cheesecake Extravaganza, are just one more thing to add to my list of s’mores delights (which now includes brownies, cake, bars, ice cream pie, ice cream, and granola bars!)…only time will tell what other s’mores treats I’ll spend enjoying for the next twenty-five years!

S'mores Cheesecake Bars
As seen on Annie's Eats

for the crust-
-1 cup graham cracker crumbs
-1 tbsp sugar
-4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

for the cheesecake-
-4 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
-8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature (I used 1/3 less fat)
-1/4 cup sour cream
-1/2 cup marshmallow cream
-2 tsp cocoa powder
-3/4 tsp vanilla extract
-2 large eggs

for the topping-
-1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
-chocolate chips or candy melts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8x8 inch pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Stir until wet and press in an even layer into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool slightly. Reduce oven temperature to 325F.
2. To make the filling, melt the 4 oz. of chocolate in either the microwave or using a double boiler. Once melted, stir until smooth and set aside to cool slightly. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream cheese, sour cream, and marshmallow cream on medium-high until well combined (1-2 minutes).
3. Add cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and eggs, beating to incorporate. Stir in melted chocolate until well blended. Pour the filling over the crust and use a spatula to spread evenly. Bake for 30 minutes, until teh center is just set (does not jiggle when gently shaken).
4. Remove from oven and top with the marshmallows. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes, until marshmallows begin to puff and melt. Turn oven to broil and watch carefully, removing when marshmallows are just browned (could also remove and use a kitchen torch). Once bars have cooled to room temperature, drizzle with melted chocolate or candy melts. Transfer to the fridge and chill for at least 3 hours before slicing and serving.