I’ve never been a big fan of desserts. I do love, I mean love, cookies, but desserts such as cakes, pies, and pastries, really do little for me.
However, (isn’t there almost always ‘however’), I do have a weakness for cheesecake bars. If you’ve never tried any one of the gazillion variations on cheesecake bars, well, you must. The base crust is topped with a simple cheesecake filling, then finished with crumbs….huge, sweet, delicious crumbs. Everything is baked to perfection, then chilled. For me, these are the perfect dessert.
I’ve taken a classic recipe for chocolate cheesecake bars, one that I have been making for years, and tried a new spin. I had picked up a few prepared graham cracker pie shells for a steal a few weeks ago. They’ve been sitting in the freezer because frankly, I’ve been uninspired.
I have to give credit for this idea to my husband. It was all his idea. He is not a cook or a baker but rather a happy consumer. However, he does know when something is just plain good!
Job well done for hubby! I put his idea into action and what resulted was a really delicious dessert. This one is a “do-it-againer” as we say in our home.
The recipe below is gluten free. However, it can easily be made with a regular graham cracker crust and regular all purpose flour. The results will be identical.
Chocolate Crumb Cheesecake Pie
serves 16 (2 pies)
2 – Prepared Chocolate Pie Crusts (I used Mi-Del Chocolate Snap Crust)
1 cup milk chocolate chips, melted
8 oz. cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
2 sticks salted butter, cold, sliced
1 1/2 cups gluten free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Baking Flour)
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar**
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Melt the chocolate chips according to the package instructions. Pour the melted chocolate evenly over the bottom of both pie crusts. Do NOT spread the chocolate with a knife or offset spatula. The melted chocolate will adhere to the crust and take up the crust from the pan as you spread….can you tell that this may have happened to me? Just don’t do it! Drizzle the chocolate on and let it be messy. Really, your taste buds won’t care.
In making the cheesecake filling it is of the utmost importance that the four ingredients be at room temperature. Mixing cold and room temperature ingredients will result in a lumpy filling, which you really do not want. Using room temperature ingredients produces a silky filling, which you DO want! Place the cream cheese into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream the cream cheese for one minute until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and egg. Mix for another minute. Add in the condensed sweetened milk and mix on medium for two minutes until all of the ingredients are combined and that silky smooth appearance is achieved.
Pour half of the cream filling into each of the pie shells.
To make the crumbs you must start with cold butter. Cut the butter into thin slices. Place in a bowl. Sift together the flour, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder. Add to the butter. Using a handheld pastry blender, two knives, or your hands, press the ingredients together to form crumbs…big crumbs, not dust, or pea sized crumbs. No we are going for crumbs like on a crumb cake. This will take a few minutes and some elbow grease. You will know you are getting close to the right consistency when the mixture turns a dark brown color.
WARNING: Do not sample the crumbs. Resist the urge to simply try a little. I repeat, do not taste the crumbs. If you do, I can almost guarantee that one of your pies is going to be crumbless. Take my word for it. Heed the warning people!
Evenly distribute the crumbs among both pies. Some of the crumbs will slightly sink into the filling. This is fine.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the pies from the oven and allow them to come down to room temperature. As the pies begin to cool, the filling will also begin to sink a bit. This is normal. Place the pies in the refrigerator to cool for several hours. You want to serve this pie cold. Once chilled, cut into 8 slices and serve.
You may opt to dust a bit more powdered sugar on top of the chilled pie for visual appeal.
**I can not tell you how many times I have started a recipe to only realize part way through that I am out of powdered sugar. It is an ingredient that I do not keep on hand. If you find yourself in a similar position, I have an easy solution. Measure out an equal amount of granulated sugar. Place the granulated sugar into a powerful blender (like a Vitamix) and crank it up to high for 30-60 seconds. The granulated sugar will become light and powdery. Spill into a bowl and allow the now powdered sugar to cool. Sometimes the blender will heat the sugar as it processes it. Warm sugar will end up softening the butter, which we do not want.