Yup, that’s right. I went there!
How goes your life? Good? Not so good? Well, I hope it’s the former but I’m pretty confidant that either way it’s about to get better.
I know, in the past I’ve knocked the so-called “America’s favorite cookie” and I still haven’t changed my mind about not liking them. I just can’t get over the memory of feeling like I was eating burnt cardboard with frosting in the center. Also, they aren’t exactly health food so I figure if it’s not something I’d enjoy eating, what’s the point?
Oreos, jojos, whatever they’re called, I’m personally just not a huge fan. Now, when you use them as an ingredient in something like, say, brownie cheesecake layer cookie bars!, it’s a whole different story. Yeah, that I can do, Yum! They don’t sell jojos in Chile, obviously, but my wonderful aunt brought me a box of them from the States to play with. I love knowing that they are made with all organic ingredients even if you won’t find me binging on them in a closet. Plus, this s a recipe idea that I’ve wanted to try for a while, so I had to use them.
See, it’s like the difference between wanting to use shortening in a recipe or eating it by itself. When I was really young we used to use shortening in frosting all the time because my grandma was a cake decorator. Of course, that was before we realized how horrible it was. Now I try to only use real butter or organic oils, but truth be told, there was a day that it went into all the fluffy stuff for our cakes. I have to say that I’ve never gotten over my feelings of aversion for their false advertising. I’m not sure what the packaging looks like now, but once upon a time my shorter self had the letdown of a lifetime because the visually alluded fried chicken was not in the can. Right there, hopes and dreams crushed forever. Just sayin’.
Then, as I’m sure many a foolish youngling has discovered in the same way, I found out that the same smooth white stuff did not taste even remotely close to the frosting we put it in. I may be a slow learner in some situations, but let me tell you, that was a mistake I’ve never made again. So gross.
So, I decided to go with calling these brownie bars because I felt cookies and cream, brownie, and cookie bars in the same title would be too confusing. In reality though, these bars are somewhere between a cookie and a brownie. Something that I find really completely awesome. They have a softer texture than a cookie but more bite than a brownie. Of course, then they’re stuffed with not only cheesecake, but chocolate sandwich cookies too! I’d say that’s pretty awesome. I got super close to adding peanut butter too, but then I realized how pretty they’d be if left just black and white. Next time though, peanut butter is so happening.
I really think you just need to try these. If you aren’t a fan of packaged cookies either, than you can just skip the jojos. You can also double the cheesecake layer instead.
Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Brownie Bars
Cookies and cream cheesecake isn't anything new, but made into these decadent bars it might just become your new favorite!
- 1/4 cup coconut oil melted
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup applesauce or pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup coconut cream *see note
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup cocoa powder
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup mini dairy free semi-sweet chocolate chips optional
- 1/2 cup vegan "cream cheese", softened
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup arrowroot starch (or cornstarch)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup coconut cream *see note
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 30 - 40 chocolate cream filled sandwich cookies I used jojos
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C) and grease a 13x9 inch glass pan. Mix coconut oil, oil, and sugar together in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with beater. Scrape sides of bowl, then add applesauce and coconut cream and mix until combined. Add vanilla, baking powder, salt, and cocoa until mixed well, then add flour one cup at a time and beat just until combined after each addition. If using, add the chocolate chips and fold in to combine.
Scrape out mixer bowl into a medium bowl and save mixer bowl for making cheesecake layer. (Yay, for less dishes to wash) Divide dough in half and press one half into prepared pan. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes until top starts to darken and looks somewhat dry; remove from oven and cool while you make cheesecake filling.
Beat "cream cheese" in mixing bowl with whisk attachment until completely smooth and lump free, scrape bottom of bowl and mix longer to be sure it's all smooth. Add sugar and starch and mix until creamed, then beat in lemon juice, coconut cream, baking powder, vanilla, and salt; mix until combined.
Lay Jojos (or oreos) in a single layer on top of the cooled cookie layer. (You can leave a few small gaps in between any odd corners.) Pour cheesecake filling over cookie layer and crumble remaining half of chocolate dough over top. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until the center of bars is lightly browned on top. Remove and cool for about 30 minutes then place pan in fridge and chill for at least 3 hours before serving. Cut into squares and serve chilled.
*If you have trouble finding coconut cream at your local grocery store it's completely fine to use full-fat coconut milk and scrape the cream off of the top. Just be sure that it's cold enough to separate.