Luscious cheesecakes bars on top of a sweet nilla wafer crust, filled with cashews and swirled with caramel.
The Story Behind the Recipe
I am a sucker for cheesecake. I’m not talking plain cheesecake. That isn’t that exciting for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll eat it, but I love the mix-ins, chunks, and other flavors. I don’t think I had the privilege of eating a gourmet slice of cheesecake until I was a teenager. You know exactly what I am talking about – The Cheesecake Factory.
My dad had taken me shopping one weekend down in Raleigh, North Carolina. As he was parking, I noticed this mall had a Cheesecake Factory. I immediately asked if we could go there because I was so intrigued by a place called The Cheesecake Factory. It looked so fancy and ornate. My step-mom was surprised I had never been to one before and immediately insisted that we eat there for lunch. Of course, to our luck the wait was over an hour because we arrived right at the prime lunch time. My dad looked at me and asked if I really wanted to stay, and I just couldn’t say no.
Then within minutes, a guy in front of us turned around and gave us his buzzer. He said he had waited too long and didn’t care to wait any longer. We happily obliged to take his buzzer figuring surely it would be less time than the hour we were told. I kid you not, two minutes later, it buzzed and we were seated quickly.
I was overwhelmed by the menu. It’s literally a book! So many yummy options. I can’t remember what entree I got, but I do remember deciding on a peanut butter cheesecake that had Reese’s peanut butter cups. Heavenly!
The Idea Behind the Bars
I love cheesecake, but rarely make it. It seems like such a hassle, but it really isn’t. I typically make them into bars, like these Raspberry Cheesecake Bars with an Oreo crust. I feel like you can get just the right amount of cheesecake without having a huge slab on your plate by making them into bars.
I had the idea the other day to make caramel cashew cheesecake bar. Caramel and cashew are two of my favorite things, and I thought they would be perfect mixed into a cheesecake. Pair it with a Nilla Wafer crust, and you’re golden. Literally. The crust is golden and the caramel is golden. When my husband took a bite, he asked why I would put nuts in it (he just doesn’t understand nuts). However, that didn’t stop him from eating several pieces.
These come together relatively quickly, but do need time to chill completely in the fridge, so make sure to factor that in before making them.
Caramel Cashew Cheesecake Bars
- 40 Nilla Wafers (about 1 1/2 cups ground)
- 6 TBS butter melted
- 2 TBS brown sugar
- 16 oz cream cheese (2 blocks) NOT low-fat
- ½ granulated sugar
- ½ cup greek yogurt
- ½ tsp. vanilla
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup cashews chopped
- ⅓ cup high quality caramel sauce such as Ghiradelli
- Preheat oven to 325. Grease an 8×8 pan, or line with foil and grease. Set aside.
- In a high powered blender, blend the nilla wafers and brown sugar together until it is fine crumbs.
- Mix the nilla wafer crumb/brown sugar mixture and melted butter together, and press into the bottom of your pan until evenly distributed.
- Next, mix the cream cheese, greek yogurt, and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add in vanilla and mix.
- Add one egg at a time and mix until well combined after each addition.
- Fold in the chopped cashews and pour the batter over the top of your crust. Spread it evenly.
- Then drizzle about 1/3 cup of caramel sauce over the top. To achieve a swirl pattern, make lines of sauce in one direction and then drag a toothpick through the lines to create the swirl.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until the sides are cooked and the middle is almost completely set. There will still be a slight jiggle.
- Remove from the oven and cool at room temperature for 2 hours.
- Cover with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated for at least 4 hours before serving.
- Store covered in the fridge.