Next time you need to make cheesecake for a crowd, try these creme brulee cheesecake bars. Instead of baking the cheesecake in the traditional springform pan, I bake it in a 9×13 pan so I can easily slice into squares. I usually opt for two dozen slices but if you want bigger pieces, you can slice into fewer squares/rectangles. If you don’t need quite this much cheesecake, you can half the recipe and it’ll fit in an 8×8 square baking dish. The point is, any way you slice it – no pun intended – these bars are perfect for a grab-and-go dessert.
They’re also easy to make but the little bit of orange zest in the batter and a crunchy layer of caramelized sugar on top makes these seem super fancy and people will be impressed. Plus, caramelizing the sugar gives you a good excuse to break out the kitchen torch, one of my favorite appliances. I do recommend waiting to cover the slices with sugar and torch until right before serving so that the topping stays crunchy.
The crunch of the caramelized sugar adds just the right amount of texture to the smooth, creamy cheesecake and you can crack through the sugar with your fork much like you would crack through the top of a creme brulee with your spoon (cracking through that layer of sugar is the most satisfying part of eating a creme brulee, am I right?).
- 2 packages graham crackers (18 crackers)
- 10 Tbsp butter, melted
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 4 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste or extract
- Zest of half an orange
- 4 eggs, room temp
- Sugar for topping
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Butter a 9×13 pan and line with parchment; I like to leave the edges overhanging the pan to make it easier to pop the cheesecake out.
Crush the graham crackers in a food processor (or in a plastic bag with a rolling pin if you need to get out your aggression). Stir in the sugar and the melted butter and press the crumbs into the pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes.
While the crust is baking, make the filling. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and orange zest for a few minutes until the batter is smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until just incorporated after each.
Pour the batter onto the crust once out of the oven. Tap or drop the pan on the counter a few times to get any air bubbles out and then bake for 40-45 minutes or until just set.
Let cool completely before using the parchment sling to remove from the pan. Slice into squares or rectangles and dust an even layer of sugar over each slice. Using a kitchen torch, melt the sugar until caramelized and crunchy just like a creme brulee. Alternatively, if you don’t have a kitchen torch, you can use the broiler in your oven to melt the sugar, just keep a careful eye on the cheesecake to make sure it doesn’t burn. Enjoy!