Sweet Lemon Cheesecake Bars have a cookie crust, lemon cheesecake filling, and white chocolate chip cookie topping!
For the Crust:
2 cups Nilla Wafers, crumbs (about 60 cookies)
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
For the Cheesecake Filling:
2 packages (8 ounce each) cream cheese, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 lemon, zested
For the Cookie layer:
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 lemon, zested
11 ounce white chocolate morsels (I use Ghirardelli)
Line a 13x9 baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a food processor, pulse Nilla Wafer cookies with sugar until fine crumbs. Add in melted butter and pulse until combined.
Press crumbs into the bottom of prepared baking dish. Using the palm of your hand, press crumbs firmly until they are pressed into the bottom of the dish.
For the filling, beat cream cheese with sugar, eggs, lemon extract and lemon zest using the whisk attachment of your electric mixer. Beat until fluffy and smooth (about 3-4 minutes). Pour over cookie crust.
For the cookie dough, beat butter and sugar for 2 minutes. Add egg, vanilla and lemon zest and beat until combined. Add in baking powder, salt and flour, beating until fully blended. Fold in white chocolate morsels. Scoop dough by large spoonfuls onto the top of the cheesecake layer. Use your fingertips to spread gently until covered.
Bake for 30-35 minutes until lightly browned. The center will still be jiggly, that's okay. Allow to cool completely. Refrigerate for 4 hours (or overnight). Slice and serve COLD. Enjoy!
Do not overbake. The center of the Lemon Cheesecake Bars will be a little jiggly when you take them out of the oven. It'll continue firming up as it cools.
Store in the refrigerator. These taste best when they've had several hours to get nice and cold. I like to make them the day before and let them chill overnight.
Line your pan. Place a sheet of parchment paper in the bottom of your baking dish. It prevents the bars from getting stuck and makes clean up easier!
Cutting bars. Use a clean sharp knife to cut these. Between cuts, wipe the knife with a paper towel.
Freezing. For perfect edges, you can even freeze the bars and cut them while they're still frozen. Let them thaw in the fridge before serving.