Making Your Own Cream Cheese Squares

Do you love cheesecake but cringe at the thought of making one from scratch?  Are you looking for the sweet richness that you can serve warm or cold?  The answer:  cream cheese squares.  They are like cheesecake bars but a cinch to make plus they can be serves warm, cold, and with or without toppings.  Here are some ideas for a few different takes on these yummy “mini cheesecakes” that even a novice cook can whip up in a moment’s notice.

Shortcut Cream Cheese Squares

This method couldn’t be simpler.  Start with 2 8-ounce cans of refrigerated crescent roll dough.  Unroll one sheet of the dough in a 9 by 13-inch baking sheet.  Mix together 2 8-ounce of packages of softened cream cheese, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 1 beaten egg, and a half cup of sugar until well combined and the mixture is almost fluffy.  Spread this over the crescent dough.  Unroll the other sheet of dough on wax or parchment paper and smooth the seams and dough into a 9 by 13 rectangle.  Invert the dough on top of the cream cheese mixture and discard the paper.  Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30-35 minutes.

Sugar-Topped Cream Cheese Squares

This recipe is very similar to the one above and involves the same preparation but the ingredients are a bit different.  Follow all of the above directions except omit the egg and vanilla while increasing the sugar to one cup.  Brush the top layer of the crescent dough with a quarter cup of melted unsalted butter then sprinkle it with a mixture of a quarter cup sugar and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, or a combination of both.  Cook in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

Deluxe Cream Cheese Squares

These are a real treat and incorporate a flaky, cake-like texture that beautifully complements the cheesecake texture.  Heat an oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 by 13-inch pan or line it with parchment paper.  Mix together a quarter cup of light brown sugar, three quarters of a cup finely chopped hazelnuts, and one 18-ounce package of white or yellow cake mix.  Stir in a third of a cup of unsalted melted butter and mix until crumbly.  Reserve 1 ¼ cup of this mixture for a topping and press the remainder into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Bake 8-10 minutes being very careful not to overbake.  For the filling beat one softened 8-ounce package of cream cheese with a quarter cup of sugar until very smooth.  Next beat in one egg and 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla until well-combined.  Pour the mixture over the baked crust then top with the reserved cake crumb mixture and bake for 25 minutes.

Cream cheese squares are very versatile and can be prepared several different way with a variety of ingredients and even incorporate things like melted chocolate and finely chopped fruit.  Don’t be afraid to try a new take on traditional favorites like strawberry shortcake cheesecake squares-your guests will thank you.

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