Cookie Dough Cheesecake Brownie Bars

A fudgy brownie base is topped with a cool, creamy cheesecake layer in what is one of the most decadent desserts on this blog. Eggless cookie dough balls scattered throughout the cheesecake layer add an extra level of sweetness, tying this hybrid dessert together.

I don't have any shame in saying that I definitely use my baking abilities to buy my friends'* affection.

*And the affection of potential love interests. It's fine, I'm fine.

The thing is - why wouldn't I?! I love baking. I love making friends. Friends love baked goods. It's a virtuous circle in its purest form.

Plus, Nana always said the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, and we all know how well my love life is going... I could use all the help I can get.

In my freshman year of college, I pledged and then became a brother of the business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi (AKPsi if you're in the know). I loved the lessons I learned from the pledge process, all the friends I gained, and the lifelong bonds I formed with my pledge brothers. However, there was one issue I faced as I began my sophomore year - how did I make the brothers see me as more than a little pledge?!

Answer: bake for them and demonstrate my value. Taking a page from the D.E.N.N.I.S. system without the whole thing about neglecting emotionally etc etc.

So, for one of our first pregames of the year, I made this dessert. And holy COW, guys, was it DEMOLISHED. People were like, scooping at it with their hands, brownie crumbs strung haphazardly around the edges of their mouths, cheesecake residue squished firmly into the carpet of our party venue. Not a morsel was left by the end of the party.

So, when my friend Matt turned 23 last year, I decided it was the perfect time* to make it again!

It's hard to be this beautiful.

It's hard to be this beautiful.

*This may have had something to do with the fact that I was going through a difficult breakup and absolutely nothing sounded better than three desserts in one. NOTHING.

To the surprise of no one, the brownies were once again demolished. After receiving no fewer than three marriage proposals (with a tequila shot taking the place of an engagement ring), I decided that this dessert is the secret to love. Get me on Oprah, stat!

Cookie Dough Cheesecake Brownie Bars

To make these brownies, you will need:
Brownie Layer
- 6 T (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 4 oz semisweet chocolate, melted
- 2 eggs
- 1 t vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 T cocoa powder
- Pinch salt
- 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Cheesecake Layer
- 16 oz (2 bricks) cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 t vanilla extract
- Pinch salt

Cookie Dough
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/8 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 t vanilla extract
- 3/8 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- Pinch salt
- 2 t water
- 1/8 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

First, preheat your oven to 350F and locate every mixing bowl you could ever dream of any more. This recipe is a doozy, folks. Line an 8x8" baking pan with foil and spray with baking spray.

Brownie Layer: Combine your butter, sugar, and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring in between, until the mixture is melted together and smooth. Let cool.

While the mixture is cooling, whisk together your flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

Once your wet mixture has cooled slightly, beat in your eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla extract. Stir in the dry mixture until just combined. Stir in the dark chocolate chips. Set aside.

Cheesecake Layer: In a medium bowl, combine your cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Set aside.

Cookie Dough: Combine the butter, brown sugar, flour, salt, vanilla extract, water, and chocolate chips in a small bowl. Roll into small balls and set aside.

Assembly: Pour the brownie batter into your prepared pan. Spread to create an even layer. Pour the cheesecake batter on top and spread to create another even layer. Gently press the cookie dough balls into the cheesecake as desired.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until the cheesecake is golden brown around the edges, then remove from the oven. This is the hard part. Let this beautiful dessert cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, then chill in the oven for 2 hours. This WILL be the most difficult two hours of your life. Don't lose hope. Once it's done chilling, you'll be able to dig in!

...but may I suggest that you use utensils? Cheesecake is REALLY hard to clean out of your carpet. Or so I've heard.