Inverted Graham Cracker Cheesecake Bars

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As students trundle to their first classes of the quarter, laden with heavy backpacks filled with books they will probably never finish, for classes they will soon find no time to attend;

as school swings back into high gear with the sound of familiar chimes ringing from the campus bell tower, tolling its stolen set of pipes recorded from another university tower;

as I lug my brick of a laptop to my office under the unnaturally blazing October sun, I think vaguely to myself that if I chance to encounter a mad Sasquatch on my unlikely path to school, at least I carry a dense projectile with which to defend myself, my expenses spreadsheets be damned.

New beginnings are always an adventure, and Fall is a beautiful thing…

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This–the late start of a new school year–is when the sun sets at an abysmally early hour and all the poetic heebie-jeebies jittering around my body just want to leap off onto the page illuminated by burning midnight oil. Call it my inner Donne or just an English grad student’s whimsy; but this is also the season of  warm, comforting flavors of cinnamon-infused graham crackers in my treats, which must all be baked now that the temperature has dropped below 90F: and there’s something special about graham crackers that makes me ask them in their lurid blue cardboard box, blithely, What the heck is a “graham” anyway? Why didn’t we reunite earlier than this?

On that rude self-interruption: I don’t know what a graham is. The phrase “graham cracker” reminds me oddly of the joke that goes, “If olive oil is made of olives, then what is baby powder made of?” Enigma central. I could probably Wiki this in a second but Bruno Mars’s “Lazy Song” just came up on my Spotify and I am not one to argue with divine intervention.

Whatever it is, I think we all agree: it’s amazing, and it’s achieved its softest, most cinnamony comforting potential in this graham cracker cookie sandwiched cheesecake bar. #word

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If you follow WG, you’ll know I’m the chattery type; but now that a new school year has begun, I’m throwing all of my energies back into the black hole that is teaching, working, socializing, baking orders for my brand new Etsy bake shop, and attempting to maintain the semblance of a normal life. (That last one is particularly difficult.) I have actually taken to sleeping on my too-short loveseat at night so I’ll wake more easily in the morning, heaven forbid I fall back asleep and don’t start working until 2 PM like this weekend 9 AM.

Given the muddled state of my brain, which is caught between a work frenzy and a sugar-induced coma, I’m leaving you today with some visuals and a recipe for one of the best, most comforting treats I have ever shared. These inverted graham cracker cheesecake bars are cinnamony, creamy, chock full of warm fall flavors, and–a super plus for a cheesecake bar–aren’t inclined to get your hands in a mess, because I piled extra graham cracker crumb on top for easy handling.

For all the mums out there with mud-spattered little hands and dirt-crusted fingers around the house: can you hear the hallelujah choruses yet?

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I believe the phrase to use here is,

you’re welcome.

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And you most certainly are.

Happy Fall, everyone!


Inverted Graham Cracker Cheesecake Bars

Inverted Graham Cracker Cheesecake Bars

The best way to celebrate fall--absolutely no-mess cheesecake layer sandwiched between two generous graham cracker cookie crusts for easy handling. The warm, cinnamony graham cracker flavor and soft, creamy texture of this bar will make it an instant potluck hit!


For the graham cracker cookie crust [adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction|]:

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

For the cheesecake layer:

  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup white sguar
  • 3 tablespoons milk or non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek 0% yogurt (may substitute higher-fat)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour


For the graham cracker cookie base:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x9-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in vanilla and egg.
  4. Add flour, graham crumbs, baking powder, and salt. Mix in until just incorporated into wet ingredients, and no more.
  5. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Press 2/3 of your dough carefully and evenly into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. In the meantime, make your cheesecake layer.

For the cheesecake layer:

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese and sugar until smooth and light.
  2. Beat in milk. Add egg and vanilla; mix in until combined. Stir in yogurt, then add flour and mix in until just incorporated into the cheesecake batter.

For the assembly:

  1. Once your graham cracker cookie crust has baked for 10 minutes, pour cheesecake evenly over crust. Sprinkle remaining cookie dough in blobs over the cheesecake filling; don't worry about covering everything, just make sure you have dough all across the pan.
  2. Bake in preheated oven for an additional 17-22 minutes, until the sides of the cheesecake have set (golden brown edges) and the center remains only slightly jiggly. Allow to cool at room temperature for 30 minutes before transferring pan to fridge.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before cutting into bars, and then manhandle & devour them at your pleasure. They'll stay pretty sturdy!

 By the way: only two days left to enter my Etsy sampler box giveaway to celebrate the opening of my new online bake shop. Enter the giveaway here, or visit my shop directly and order your customized baked treats today! Thank you all for your amazing support so far!

A special shoutout to all the lovely bloggers who have been or will be helping me celebrate, promote, and spread the snacky word about my shop this week. You can read their wonderful promotion posts/mentions below: 

Amanda @ A Cookie Named Desire

Zainab @ Blahnik Baker

Andrea @ Cooking with a Wallflower

Meggan @ Culinary Hill

Uru @ Go Bake Yourself

Nancy @ Gotta Get Baked

Jessica @ Jessica in the Kitchen

Kelly @ Life Made Sweeter

Courtney @ Neighbor Food Blog

Cynthia @ Two Red Bowls

Kristy @ The Wicked Noodle

Thank you gals a bushel and a TON: you are seriously the most amazing friends a girl could ask for. I could send you all an elephant-sized chocolate right now filled with love!



22 Replies to “Inverted Graham Cracker Cheesecake Bars”

  1. Take care not to burn out! We’d miss your scrumptious dessert recipes if you got too busy! (Especially these lush Graham Cracker Cheesecake Bars!)

    1. haha thanks for looking out for me Deb–I’ll try! These bars do help with the sanity 😉 hope you have a lovely week!

  2. “Graham” isn’t a thing — it’s a man. I forget the exact history but “graham flour” was invented by a 19th century minister by the name of Graham as a healthy diet food (it has extra wheat germ and fiber or something like that). One of benefits was that graham flour was supposed to help control sexual urges!!! Really. So maybe it’s a good thing for grad students who need to concentrate on their studies. 🙂 Anyway, this looks lovely. Good recipe — thanks.

    1. Hah! I knew I could count on you to provide that needed contextualization–though I never knew that about graham flour and was absolutely cracking up at its supposed health benefits. GOOD TO KNOW. Happy Tuesday, John!

  3. Love the look of these – yum!

    1. Thanks a bundle, Alessandra–off to visit your lovely blog!

  4. Can we talk about how amazing this cheesecake bar is? Graham crackers galore, chocolate, cream cheese? I think I’m in dessert heaven, Ala! I might have just found my new favorite dessert =)

    1. Uhhhhm yes Andrea we could (and should) talk about this all day <3 yayy I hope you try it and LOVE it too! Happy Wednesday, lady!

  5. These cheesecake bars look absolutely lush, Ala!

    1. I love that word: lush! Totally stealing it now. Thank you, Jess–have an awesome Thursday!

  6. These are exactly the kind of “after school”/”after work”/”after dinner”/”all hours” snack I need in my life!

    1. Whoo! I won’t argue with you there, Joanne! Soooo I’m off to grab another slice right now…hehe…

  7. These bars look incredible Ala! So SO smart! Love these!

    1. Thanks, Trish! Hope you’re having a fantabulous weekend!

  8. Your bars look incredible! And your thoughts always make me giggle…which I needed today! Thanks for the smiles whenever I drop by (not to mention the hunger pangs!).

    1. That’s probably one of the nicest things anyone could’ve said right now–I’m smiling like crazy, too! Have a wonderful weekend, Liz!

  9. Everything you make is magic. Now can you wave your wand and have a pan of this appear in front of me? I’d be ever so grateful! Thanks, babe 😉

    1. Daw, you make me blush, girl–my Harry Potter senses tell me I’d love to make these appear, but one of the five exceptions to Gamp’s Law is that you can’t materialize food right? 🙁 booooo. Anyway, happy weekend, Nance! Hope all is well!

  10. Holy moly, these bars have everything going on that I love. Graham cracker crust, cheesecake and more graham cracker topping? Amazing!!!

    1. I never get enough graham cracker crust in my cheesecake for my liking. I’m completely on board with you on this one, Kelly <3

  11. I came across this recipe looking for something made with graham crackers and also because someone at work said how they like the traditional graham cracker crust with cheesecake. I have to say this was very good but the taste of Graham crackers was very underwhelming and the coworker didn’t think it tasted like the crust you find in a cheesecake. Left me a little disappointed. Still tasty but not what I was expecting.

    1. Hey JD! Glad you tried these, and sorry to hear that they didn’t have the graham cracker crust taste you were expecting. They’re definitely a more subtle flavor than a regular cheesecake!

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