Graham Cracker Crumb Cheesecake Bars with Golden Oreos: a recipe/post from your newest PhD candidate! (eep!)

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If it’s felt quiet around here lately, you’re completely right. But guys. Guys.

Guess who’s penning this post as a newly baptized English PhD candidate? (eeks!) Excuse me while I bust-a-move around the room a la old-school 90s arcade game.

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So for those of you who are just like, Ala you big nut what are you even talking about we have no idea please speak English okay, I have basically spent the past few months working furiously toward writing a dissertation proposal (called a “prospectus”) that I finally discussed with my entire exam committee on Monday. For a little shy of two hours, we sat in a room and questioned and brainstormed and pontificated about my ideas on the construction of children’s fantasy literature (and yes, that’s my dissertation topic–booyeah!).

Then they sent me out of the room and were all like GO STEW IN YOUR SWEATY INSECURITY and closed the door and deliberated.

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Okay, actually they sent me out at a really nice and comfortable point in our conversation, and basically everyone was grinning as I walked out and everyone was still grinning when I walked back in. I was honestly a little bit scared because I have never seen my advisor beaming so broadly before at me, and I expected a terrifying green imp to burst out of his skin at any second and shout, “NYAH NYAH, you failed!”

But thankfully, my advisor’s skin stayed intact and he actually shook me heartily by the hand as he said: “I am so happy to congratulate you on successfully passing your exam!”

I imagine there being a palpable exclamation mark at the end of that sentence. Like, never ever have I heard him use an exclamation mark and the word “you” in the same sentence before, so you know–pretty big deal! And the whole committee was grinning when I walked in, and I was suddenly flooded by this deluge of Congraulations and Drink at least two beers tonight, please as I walked around the room shaking hands with everyone. It felt kind of like being the VP, except instead of kissing babies I was hugging profs. Which is kindaaaa a big deal when you think about how many shows of physical affection usually go on in academia, i.e. severely restricted. It’s like if your cold aloof cat was suddenly warm and cuddly with your dog, who likes to annoy your cat with friendship. (I am the dog in that metaphor.)

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Either way–here I am! Like a birthday come and gone, I feel eons older and none the wiser. Okay, maybe I feel just a little bit wiser–or at least less backlogged than I did when I first started this program and realized the sheer immensity of the climb ahead of me.

Still, there’s something (comfortingly) anticlimactic about taking the Part 2 exam, in a way that I didn’t feel after I finished my kind of terrifying Part 1 exam last year. Whereas my first exam left me feeling drained, I feel pretty energized right now to start working on this beastly dissertation (read: 280 – 370 pages) over the next year or two. I’m physically and mentally tired, but emotionally pumped–so hopefully I’ll get my butt back into the blogging way real soon (i.e. I have some really fun posts coming up these next few weeks, so stay tuned!)

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Speaking of which, I have to introduce you to these Graham Cracker Crumb Cheesecake Bars with Golden Oreos. They are seriously insane and probably among the Top 10 things that I’ve made, in terms of them flying off the plates because my friends were devouring them so quickly. The top and bottom layers consist of a wonderful, easy no-bake graham cracker crust, and the center is filled with the simplest cream cheese filling you could ever ask for. Of course, I had to dirty things up by throwing in whole Golden Oreos into each creamy center, which adds a whole new universe of texture and flavor that nobody could identify straight-up but everyone LOVED. It’s like icebox-cake meets vanilla-monster meets ice cream. With like, cookies and cream white chocolate bar chunks on top, just because #YASSSSPLEASE. And it’s all really, really good.

And no-bake.

And so easy.

And so popular.

I’m 99% sure this is the only reason they let me stay on the swim club even though I’m such an old fart.

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More on my post-exam celebration updates next post: for now, I’m off to spend a night out for dinner next to the beach!

MAKE THIS, and bon appetit for now!


Graham Cracker Crumb Cheesecake Bars with Golden Oreos: a recipe/post from your newest PhD candidate! (eep!)

Graham Cracker Crumb Cheesecake Bars with Golden Oreos: a recipe/post from your newest PhD candidate! (eep!)

One of my TOP TEN most fly-off-the-plate recipes! These bars are so simple to make and leave everyone wondering what awesome voodoo magic you practice. A creamy no-bake cheesecake bar is sandwiched by sweet, cinnamony graham cracker crumbs and stuffed with whole Golden Oreos. Can it GET any better? (We thought not!)


For the graham cracker crust:s:

  • 3 cups graham cracker crumbs (you can grind graham crackers into a fine crumb in a food processor)
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

For the cream cheese filling:

  • 2 (8 oz.) packages original cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For assembly:

  • 16 Golden Oreos
  • 1 XL cookies and cream white chocolate bar, broken into pieces


For the graham cracker crust:s:

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients until a wettish crumbly mess forms. Press half of the crumb evenly but gently into the bottom of a foil-lined 9x9-inch baking pan. Place in the freezer for 5 minutes so that it can set just a bit.
  2. Reserve the remaining crumbs for the topping.

For the cream cheese filling:

  1. Beat together all ingredients until smooth. Spread half of the mixture carefully over the graham cracker crumb bottom, taking care not to disturb the crumbs (if you do, simply freeze your crust for an additional 5-10 minutes).
  2. Reserve the remaining half of cream cheese for the next step.

For the remaining assembly:

  1. Place 16 Oreos, evenly spaced (4x4 grid) on top of the cream cheese mixture.
  2. Spread remaining cream cheese mixture as well as you can over the Oreos, covering them as much as possible.
  3. Top with remaining graham cracker crumbs.
  4. Freeze for at least 4-6 hours before serving! These are great when they have defrosted slightly, and taste like an amazing burst of cheesecake-meets-INEXPLICABLY-AWESOME.



21 Replies to “Graham Cracker Crumb Cheesecake Bars with Golden Oreos: a recipe/post from your newest PhD candidate! (eep!)”

  1. Oh Ala!!! I just mentally went through the day I took mine..almost 4 years ago. We take it at the end of our 2nd year and it was just similar to the feeling you described. Waiting after the 2 hour question session was the worst but seeing all their grins when I walked back in made it worth it!!! So happy for you girl!! You seriously made it past the hardest part of this whole PhD adventure and soon the end will be here 🙂 So proud of you! FINE…I am also here for the sugar goodness that these bars are 🙂

    1. Oh my gosh, I can only imagine how happy and just DONE you felt then. I’m so glad to have your support and your wisdom! Thanks so so so much. Things are slightly wobbly at the moment just because of some other stuff, including an upcoming conference…but I’m really looking forward to finally own this project. You’re the best, Zainab! <3

  2. Oh my these look addictive. I don’t think i’d trust myself with a whole pan of these >0< and congrats on all of your hard work on your PHD! best of luck for what happens i the future ^^
    Also I was tagged to do this Sisterhood of the world post answering some questions and I nominated you to do the tag! so if you wanted to do it that would be awesome ^0^ xo

    1. That’s so kind of you, Takara! I really appreciate it xoxo as for the post–things are really busy atm, but thanks for thinking of me! You’re totally welcome to send the questions anyway, I’m just not sure if I’ll have the time to answer <3 but I can try!

  3. Congrats on passing! These cheesecake bars look divine, Ala!! 😀 Definitely the perfect delicious treat to celebrate with!

    1. Oh, you’re a gem! I totally need to catch up with your blog and everything wonderful in your life. Thanks so much, Jess! <3

  4. YAY!!!! I know how stressful those committee meetings can be…I have to have one in a few weeks to determine whether i can defend my thesis in August..CRAZY STUFF. You deserve all the celebration! But especially lots of these cheesecake bars.

    1. Oh my GOSH girl, that’s so exciting!! I hope you get to defend in August (if that’s what you want) and that you can tell me how everything is on the other side of things! GAH so excited for you! And thank you!!

  5. Congrats! That’s exciting news! Very happy for you.

    1. Thanks a billion, John! Still need to catch up on your latest doings.

  6. Oh my gosh, CONGRATULATIONS!!! That is amazing, wonderful news! I think you deserve an entire pan of these glorious looking cheesecake bars all for yourself to celebrate! And I’ll eat some for you on my end! 🙂

    1. THANK you so much, Kate! You’re the best. I totally may have eaten half the pan, hehe. <3 <3

  7. Ala! Congrats on your big accomplishment! I’m so proud and happy for you….woohoooooo! I should pop a wine on your behalf tonight…well that’s my excuse, but I need this cheesecake bars for sure. They look outstanding especially for a dessert. Gosh, I definitely need a tray. Do you deliver? 🙂

    1. hahaha I know, if only I did! I’d send these to you ASAP if they traveled well. Alas! But thank you so much for your kind words, Linda–seriously. I really appreciate it! <3 can't wait to catch up on your blog soon!

  8. Aaaw yay! Congrats Ala! So so happy and excited for you! You definitely deserve it and these bars are a delicious way to celebrate!

    1. Thank you sooo much, Kelly! I can’t wait to catch up with your latest doings soon <3

  9. Ala, congratulations! I’m so proud of you! You are brilliant and your spirit is so infectious that I know you impressed and charmed the pants off everyone in the room (not literally because ain’t nobody want to see a bunch of academics without their pants on 😉 And now hand me a pan of these incredible cheesecake bars!

    1. You’re the best, Nance! Thank you SO much. I was laughing so hard when I read your comment about the pants (totally correct, would NOT want that to happen under any circumstance!). I can’t wait to get back on board the train of life and read about everyone’s doings, including yours. HOPE ALL IS WELL with your exciting changes!!!!

  10. Well hellooooooo smartypants!! I am so impressed that you are a PhD candidate! You are clearly as smart as you are cute and witty.

    But these bars. they have basically wrapped all of my weaknesses (bar cookies, sandwich cookies, graham crackers, sweetened condensed milk) into one form.

    1. hellooo you gem! Thanks so much for your kind words, totally appreciated. So stoked for the next stage of liiiife! <3 cheers!

  11. Fist bumps! High Fives! Happy Dances. You da GIRL! Congrats on passing! 😀
    Ala, this looks seriously decadent. Screen licking delicious. Like, I want it in my belly now.

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