Whether you’re craving some naughtiness nostalgia or simply want a sweet snack for picnics and parties, these Philadelphia Cheesecake Snack Bars are sure to hit the spot.
There’s a lot about the 2000’s we’d rather forget like the Britney and Justin break up and the double denim trend. Yet, there’s one little slice of nostalgia I’d love to make a return – Philadelphia cheesecake snack bars.
It’s impossible to forget those delicious cheesecake bars, with the Graham cracker crust, creamy cheesecake layer, and strawberry topping. If (like me) you’ve also been reminiscing about this discontinued dessert, you can now recreate them with ease.
I’m not the only one who dreams of their comeback, in fact, there are over 40,000 other snack bar fans who’ve signed a petition for their return. Until Kraft takes our petition pleas seriously, you can fool your family and friends that the beloved bars are back thanks to this copycat recipe of our favorite Philadelphia Strawberry Cheesecake Bars.
WHY WE LOVE THIS PHILADELPHIA CHEESECAKE SNACK BARS RECIPE
- They taste like the real deal – Graham cracker crust? Check. Creamy baked cheesecake? Check. Strawberry topping with a drizzle of sugar glaze? Check. Your taste buds will be transported straight back to the early 2000’s with these delicious dessert bars.
- It’s surprisingly easy – Although there are 3 layers, this recipe is surprisingly straightforward as I skip homemade strawberry topping in favor of jam and have a baking time of only 35 minutes.
- Easy to customize – It might feel wrong to stray from the traditional strawberry topping but once you start experimenting the options are endless. From blueberry to chocolate drizzle, these cheesecake snack bars can be easily tweaked to your taste.
- unsalted butter, melted
- graham cracker crumbs
- cream cheese
- granulated white sugar
- sour cream, room temperature
- large eggs
- vanilla extract
- lemon juice
- strawberry jam
- sour cream
- powdered sugar
SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS
- Cream cheese - Although these are Philadelphia strawberry cheesecake snack bars, the world won’t end if you use a different brand. As long as you use full-fat cream cheese you will still achieve that velvety cheesecake layer. Just make sure you are using room temperature cream cheese.
- Graham cracker crumbs – to save time and effort we’ve used the store-bought crumbs but if you can only get your hands on graham crackers simply add them to a food processor and pulse until they are a fine crumb.
- Baked vs. no-bake cheesecake – I prefer a baked cheesecake layer for that irresistible creamy texture but feel free to switch to your favorite no-bake cheesecake topping if you'd prefer.
- White Drizzle – For the sour cream and powdered sugar drizzle on top, feel free to substitute with melted white chocolate for a white chocolate drizzle.
- Strawberry jam – If you have a little time on your hands, make your own strawberry topping by boiling fresh chopped strawberries with lemon juice and lemon zest, sugar, water, and cornstarch to make strawberry preserves. Once the sauce is thick (around 15 minutes) remove it from the heat and allow it to cool before piping it onto your bars. You can also use strawberry pie filling as a delicious treat.
- Flavor Variations – Although the strawberry Philadelphia Cheesecake bars were undoubtedly the favorite you could also experiment with blueberry, lemon or raspberry preserve for the topping. A caramel drizzle also pairs perfectly with the cheesecake as well as a sprinkling of pecans or chocolate shavings.
RECOMMENDED TOOLS TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
- 9x9 inch square pan- you can also make this into a standard cheesecake by using a 9-inch pan or springform pan.
- Parchment paper
- Mixing bowls
- Electric mixer
- Piping bag
- Measuring cups and spoons
HOW TO MAKE THIS PHILADELPHIA CHEESECAKE SNACK BARS RECIPE
This recipe is ready in 3 simple steps – crust, cheesecake, topping. The end result is a Philadelphia cheesecake snack bar that’s so scrumptious it’s been claimed they’re better than the original.
Graham Cracker Base
- Heat oven to 325°F. Line a 9x9 inch baking pan with parchment paper. If you’d prefer thinner/smaller bars you can use a 9x13 inch pan instead.
- Place graham cracker crumbs in a medium-sized bowl. Add the melted butter and sugar and mix graham crumbs until they are moistened. Press mixture into the bottom of the lined pan or baking dish; set aside. Pro-tip: If you cannot find graham cracker crumbs in the store, make your own by pulsing crackers in a food processor.
Velvety Cheesecake Layer
- In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy using an electric mixer on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently. Beat in the sour cream. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until combined. Add in vanilla, lemon juice, and salt, and blend until just combined.
- Spread batter evenly over crust.
- Bake the cheesecake at 325°F until just set in the center about 30-35 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. Pro-tip: If using a glass dish, baking time may be 5-10 minutes longer.
Assemble and Add Topping
- Place jam in a piping bag or use a squeeze bottle. Pipe strips of jam onto the cooled cheesecake.
- Cover lightly with foil and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Once cooled, slice into rectangles.
- Before serving, whisk together sour cream and powdered sugar in a small bowl. Drizzle or pipe over snack bars. If desired, refrigerate for an additional 15 minutes to set.
TIPS FOR MAKING THESE PHILADELPHIA STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE SNACKS
- It’s important to compact the graham cracker crumbs as much as possible to avoid your Philadelphia cheesecake snack bars falling apart
- To ensure even slices, use a sharp knife making sure to wipe the blade between cuts for smooth, clean edges.
- Although you can mix the cheesecake by hand I do recommend a mixer as not only will it speed things up but it will give your cheesecake a more creamy texture.
- For best results, don’t try and rush the chill time. Make the cheesecake the day before, allow to chill overnight, then add the topping just before serving.
These cheesecake snack bars will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days in an air-tight container.
If you plan on freezing, it’s best to do so without the topping then add it fresh before serving.
Freeze them on a cookie sheet or in their baking pan then once solid, wrap in foil or plastic and store in an airtight container.
They will keep in the freezer for 2-3 months, when ready to eat let them thaw in the refrigerator then add the strawberry and sour cream topping.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why did they discontinue Philadelphia cheesecake bars?
Let’s tackle the most important question first – why is this delicious dessert discontinued? Apparently, they were always intended to be a limited edition, then production issues resulted in their disappearance. Not to fear, these homemade Philadelphia snack bars taste even better.
How to cut the cheesecake into bars evenly?
Avoid arguments over who gets the biggest bar by using this simple technique for clean, even slices.
- Firstly, make sure you’ve allowed adequate chill time (at least 6 hours, but ideally overnight.)
- Fill a large heatproof jug or glass with boiling water.
- Dip a sharp knife into the water, then dry it using a clean kitchen towel.
- Your first cut should be horizontal across the baking pan.
- Then clean your knife and slice vertically to create the individual snack bars.
- It is important you dip and dry the knife between each slice.
- Make sure your knife is completely clean before making the next slice otherwise it will struggle to make a clean cut and your bars will be uneven.
How to replicate the appearance of the original Philadelphia cheesecake bars?
You may notice that the original cheesecake snack bars had a grove down the middle filled with the strawberry topping. To save time I skipped this, and I also didn’t want to waste any precious cheesecake.
If you want to recreate the original look (and enjoy the leftovers) the best way to do this is by using a metal measuring spoon or melon baller. Carefully drag your tool of choice down the center of each bar to create a long well. Then fill the well with strawberry jam and add the drizzle as normal.
Can I make these cheesecake bars ahead of time?
Ofcourse! They are the perfect portable treat for potlucks, picnics or parties and will keep in the refrigerator for around 2-3 days ahead of time. You can also freeze for up to 2 months. Although I’d recommend adding the topping before serving for maximum flavor.
Can I make a no-bake version of these Philadelphia cheesecake snack bars?
Of course, feel free to use your favorite no-bake cheesecake recipe. Or whisk together Philadelphia cream cheese, sour cream, sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, vanilla extract, confectioner’s sugar, and heavy cream.
Once the mixture is well combined, smooth it over the graham cracker crust and place in the fridge to chill for at least 8 hours
OTHER CHEESECAKE RECIPES YOU MAY ENJOY
Whether you’re craving some noughties nostalgia or simply want a sweet snack for picnics and parties, these Philadelphia Strawberry Cheesecake snack bars are guaranteed to hit the spot.
- 12 tablespoon unsalted butter melted
- 1 ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 16 oz cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup Sour cream Room temperature
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon Lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup strawberry jam
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a 9x9 inch baking pan with parchment paper. If you’d prefer thinner/smaller bars you can use a 9x13 inch pan instead.
Place graham cracker crumbs in a medium-sized bowl. Add the butter and sugar and mix until the graham crackers crumbs are moistened. Press mixture into the bottom of the lined pan; set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy using an electric mixer, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently. Beat in the sour cream. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until combined. Add in vanilla, lemon juice, and salt, and blend until just combined.
Spread batter evenly over crust.
Bake the cheesecake at 325°F until just set in the center about 30-35 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.
Place jam in a piping bag or use a squeeze bottle. Pipe strips of jam onto the cooled cheesecake.
Cover lightly with foil and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Once cooled, slice into rectangles.
Before serving, whisk together sour cream and powdered sugar in a small bowl. Drizzle or pipe over snack bars. If desired, refrigerate for an additional 15 minutes to set.