It’s beginning to look a lot like … the holidays. Goodness knows what the holidays are going to look like this year. So there’s only one thing for it – BAKE! One of my favourite holiday recipes is spéculoos cookies not just because they taste good but because they make the house smell AMAZING. It’s impossible to be in a bad mood when you’re baking those flavours! And they are the perfect cookie to make for a cookie swap!
But maybe this holiday season you’re not going to participate in a cookie swap and you’re more interested in a dessert you can make for a smaller celebration. Well have no fear, you don’t have to make 45 speculoos cookies and hope that you don’t eat them all in one sitting – you can make these fabulous spéculoos cheesecake bars which are just as good served as a mid-morning or afternoon snack as they are served as a dessert after a holiday meal. All the flavours of the holidays in an easy, no-fuss recipe that doesn’t even require a water bath. Now that’s what I call winning!
For the base:
- 1 cup (150 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup (57 g/ 4 tablespoons/ 1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 1/4 cup (50 g) brown sugar
- 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the filling:
- 1 x 250g (8oz) brick style cream cheese, at room temperature,
- 1/3 cup (5 0g) icing sugar
- 1 large egg and 1 large egg white (you can use the white you didn’t use in the base)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/3 cup (100 g )plain Greek yoghurt
For the swirl:
- 1 tablespoon cookie butter (spéculoos spread)
Make the cookie base
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
- Grease and line an 8 x 8-inch square tin with parchment paper, making sure you have some overhang (this will help you lift the cheesecake out when it’s baked).
- Pulse the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and baking soda in a food processor (I use a mini food processor for this) until combined.
- Add the butter and pulse until just combined.
- Add the brown and granulated sugar, egg yolk and vanilla and pulse until the mixture starts to clump together around the sides of the bowl.
- Press the mixture into the prepared baking tin - use your fingertips, the bottom of a glass or a wide flat spatula to press the mixture in as tightly as possible.
- Bake for 10 minutes. The base will look slightly puffy and might not look completely cooked at this stage but that’s ok.
- Set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the filling.
- Lower the heat to 325˚F.
- Using handheld electric beaters or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until soft and creamy.
- Add the icing sugar and mix until combined.
- Add the egg and egg white and vanilla and and mix until completely combined.
- Add the yoghurt and fold gently with a rubber spatula until thoroughly combined.
Prepare the filling
Assemble and bake the cheesecake
- Make sure your oven is at 325˚F.
- In a small microwave-safe bowl, heat the cookie butter until it’s liquidy. I like to do this at 60% power in increments of 30 seconds to make sure I am not burning the mixture. This takes 1 minute in total in my microwave.
- Pour the cheesecake filling over the cookie base.
- Drizzle the cookie butter over the filling and use a toothpick to swirl it through.
- Bake your cheesecake bars for 30-35 minutes until the filling is just set. It might still be a little jiggly on top in the very centre.
- Prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon and allow the cheesecake to cook slightly for about 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack to room temperature. Slice into squares with a long, sharp knife, wiping clean between each slice.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
- Wilton Performance Pans Aluminum Square Cake and Brownie Pan, 8-Inch
- PaperChef Natural Release Coated Non-Stick Culinary Parchment Paper, (2) 205 sq ft rolls (15 in x 164 ft)
- Braun MQ725 Multiquick Hand Blender, Black
- Cuisinart 5-speed hand mixer
- Biscoff Cookie Butter Spread (Creamy + Crunchy Combo Pack)
- 1000 Count 100% Natural Bamboo Toothpicks – Kitchen Essential
Some notes for recipe success:
- Do make sure you line the baking tin with parchment and that the parchment lays smooth on the base and sides of the tin, otherwise the cheesecake filling will bake into the parchment and it will be hard to remove.
- Make sure you have parchment overhanging the sides of the baking tin so you can easily remove the cheesecake once it’s cooled.
- Don’t worry if your base doesn’t look fully baked after 10 minutes – remember, it’s going to bake again with the cheesecake.
- Do make sure to follow the instructions about leaving the cheesecake to cool in the oven for 30 minutes with the heat off and the door open. This will help the cheesecake cool slowly which might help prevent cracking.
- Don’t be tempted to remove the cheesecake from the baking tin until it’s fully cooled – it might crack or fall apart if it’s still warm.
- Make sure to use a knife longer than the cheesecake if you can – this way you can make clean cuts.
- Do take the time to wipe the knife clean between each slice.
- Store these in a single layer in an airtight container in the fridge – don’t be tempted to stack them on top of each other.
I LOVE these chunky bars – they are substantial enough when cut large enough to serve as a dessert but if you cut them smaller, they can be a fabulous snack too. I love a versatile dessert!
These are perfect for the upcoming holiday season – in fact you could bake them anytime from Canadian Thanksgiving in October right through the end of the year – these flavours are appropriate for that extended period of time I think! If you’re not into pumpkin pie, this might be a nice alternative for a Thanksgiving dessert. And if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, this is a lovely option for a lighter holiday dessert too!
Happy holiday baking!!
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