Celebrate the magic of the holiday season with our Christmas Cookies Cheesecake Bars! These bars are a delightful fusion of refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough, vibrant Christmas mix M&Ms, and a luscious homemade cheesecake filling, making them the perfect festive treat for your Christmas celebrations.
I absolutely love how this recipe elevates basic chocolate chip cookie dough into a sensational holiday delight. The contrast of chewy cookie layers with the creamy cheesecake filling, all adorned with festive pops of color from Christmas M&Ms, adds a special touch to your seasonal baking. It’s a must-try treat that’s sure to become a new holiday tradition in your home.
Ingredients for Christmas Cookie Cheesecake Bars
- Refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough – This convenient base provides a classic chocolate chip cookie flavor and chewy foundation for the bars.
- Christmas mix M&Ms – Adds festive color and chocolate crunch.
- Cream cheese – Lends a velvety richness and a creamy consistency to the cheesecake layer.
- Granulated sugar – Sweetens the cheesecake filling.
- Brown sugar – Adds a warm, caramel-like flavor to the cheesecake, enhancing its depth and richness.
- Salt – Balances flavors and enhances the overall sweetness.
- Egg – Binds the cheesecake layer together, contributing to its smooth and creamy texture.
- Vanilla extract – Infuses a delightful aroma and a subtle, sweet depth of flavor to the cheesecake.
Making the Christmas Cookie Cheesecake Bars
- Preheat and prepare – Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper for easy removal.
- Cookie dough prep – Break up the refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough and mix in 3/4 cup of Christmas mix M&Ms.
- Create the base -Press half of the cookie dough into the pan to form the base.
- Cheesecake layer – Using an electric mixer, combine room-temperature cream cheese, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. Add an egg and vanilla extract and mix until smooth.
- Spread the cheesecake – Evenly spread the cheesecake mixture over the cookie dough base.
- Top layer – Break the remaining cookie dough into pieces and place them over the cheesecake layer.
- M&M topping – Gently press the remaining Christmas mix M&Ms into the top layer of cookie dough.
- Bake – Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the cheesecake layer is set.
- Cool and chill – Allow the bars to cool in the pan at room temperature, then refrigerate for at least two hours to set.
- Slice and enjoy – Remove from the pan, slice into bars, and savor your Christmas Cookies Cheesecake Bars during the holiday season!
Variations and substitutions
Homemade cookie dough – For an entirely homemade experience, feel free to use your own chocolate chip cookie dough recipe that yields approximately 24 (2-inch) cookies. This allows you to customize the cookie base with your preferred ingredients and adjust the sweetness level to your liking.
Cookie dough variety – You can experiment with different types of cookie dough, such as sugar cookie dough, oatmeal cookie dough, or snickerdoodle dough, for a unique flavor twist.
Candy swaps – Instead of M&Ms, try using other holiday-themed candies like crushed candy canes, Reese’s Pieces, or even white chocolate chips for a different texture and taste.
Nutty crunch – Incorporate chopped nuts like pecans or walnuts into the cookie dough or cheesecake layer for added texture and flavor.
Thinner cookie bars – If you like your cookie bars on the thinner side, use a 9×9 inch pan instead of the 8×8 inch one. Be sure to reduce the bake time by about 5 minutes to ensure they don’t overbake. This modification results in a slightly different texture, making the bars more crispy and less gooey in the center.
Tips for success
- Room temperature ingredients – Allow the cream cheese and eggs to come to room temperature. This ensures a smoother and creamier cheesecake layer.
- Brick-style cream cheese – Opt for brick-style cream cheese over whipped cream cheese from a tub. Heating the whipped version can alter the cream cheese’s structure and lead to unwanted moisture.
- Parchment paper – Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides. This makes it easier to lift the bars out for slicing.
- Even layers – When pressing the cookie dough into the pan, cheesecake layer, and top layer, strive for even thickness to ensure consistent baking.
- Don’t overmix – When preparing the cheesecake layer, avoid overmixing after adding the egg and vanilla to prevent over-incorporation of air, which can lead to cracking.
- Bake with care – Keep a close eye on the bars as they bake. They should be done when the edges turn golden and the cheesecake layer is set but still slightly jiggly in the center.
- Cool completely – Allow the bars to cool to room temperature in the pan before refrigerating. This prevents condensation on the bars, which can make them soggy and affect their texture and presentation.
- Chill adequately – Ensure you refrigerate the bars for at least two hours or until the cheesecake layer is fully set. This step is essential for the bars’ texture and flavor.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
The cookie bars can be frozen for up to two months. Wrap each bar in plastic or foil and store in an airtight container. Thaw the cookie bars in the refrigerator.
Christmas Cookie Cheesecake Bars FAQs
To prevent the cheesecake layer from cracking, it’s crucial to avoid overmixing after adding the egg and vanilla. Overmixing can introduce excess air into the batter, which may lead to cracks during baking. Furthermore, ensure that you don’t overbake the bars; removing them from the oven when the edges are golden, and the center is slightly jiggly but set will help maintain a smooth, crack-free cheesecake layer.
Absolutely, you can make these bars in advance and refrigerate them. This is not only a time-saver for holiday gatherings but also allows the flavors to meld and the bars to set more firmly, enhancing their texture and taste for a delightful treat.
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Christmas Cookie Cheesecake Bars
- 1 (16 ounce) package of refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
- 1 cup Christmas mix M&Ms divided
- 8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
- Break up the cookie dough into pieces and add it to a medium bowl. Add ¾ cup of the M&Ms and combine with the cookie dough.
- Add half of the cookie dough to the bottom of the prepared baking pan and flatten into an even layer.
- In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugars, and salt with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat on low until just combined.
- Spread the cheesecake mixture over the cookie dough and smooth it into an even layer.
- Break the remaining cookie dough into small pieces, lightly flatten it, and place it over the cheesecake layer.
- Gently press the remaining M&Ms into the top layer of cookie dough.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the edges are golden and the cheesecake layer is set.
- Allow the cookie to cool in the pan to room temperature before refrigerating for at least two hours.
- Once the cookie has chilled, remove them from the pan, slice into bars, and enjoy!
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
- The cookie bars can be frozen for up to two months. Wrap each bar in plastic or foil and store in an airtight container. Thaw the cookie bars in the refrigerator.