Thursday, January 19, 2017

Pistachio-Amaretto Cheesecake Bars

    Pistachio Amaretto Cheesecake Bars

    The other day, I ran across a recipe on Pinterest that immediately caught my eye. It was a cheesecake that featured the flavors of pistachio pudding and amaretto! I knew I had to check it out. I went to The Gold Lining Girl to take a closer look. Here's a link:

    I have to say, I completely agreed with Sarah's assessment of pistachio pudding. It doesn't really taste like pistachios. It IS delicious, though. It's in a category all by itself!

    I really wanted a piece of the cheesecake! However, I knew that if I made it, my husband and I would be dealing with a very large dessert that would hang around the house for days and days! I decided to see if I could downsize the recipe into a more manageable square pan of cheesecake bars. 

    I made some changes to the ingredients.  I started by cutting the ingredients in half, but I didn't want use a half package of cream cheese or a half can of sweetened condensed milk.  I used only 2 packages of cream cheese, added an extra egg, and used sugar instead of the condensed milk.  

    I also wanted to add a little bit more chocolate!  Why not, right?  I decided to use chocolate graham crackers for the crust.  I also noticed that we happened to have some Godiva chocolate liqueur in the liquor cabinet (probably leftover some random seasonal martini drink that I made for a party).  I chose to top the cheesecake bars with a boozy whipped cream.  You could use regular whipped cream if you want, or you could just spike it with more amaretto if you don't have any chocolate liqueur.  

    Anyway, Here's what I came up with:

Pistachio-Amaretto Cheesecake Bars


For the chocolate crust:

1/3 cup raw almonds
6 whole chocolate graham crackers
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup melted butter

For the pistachio-amaretto cheesecake filling:

Two 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
One 3.4 oz. box of instant pistachio pudding mix
1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. almond extract
3 tbsp. amaretto liqueur

For the chocolate whipped cream:

1 half-pint container of heavy whipping cream
A pinch or two of sugar
One to two tbsp. of chocolate liqueur (or another liqueur of your choice)

Mini chocolate chips, for garnish


1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x9 square baking pan. 

2.  Place the almonds in a food processor.  Process until they are the consistency of large crumbs.  Add the graham crackers and sugar.  Continue to process until the mixture is a uniform mix of fine crumbs with some larger crumbs.  Press into the bottom and sides of the baking pan.  The sides of my crust went up about 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the bottom.  Set aside.

Crust for Pistachio Amaretto Cheesecake Bars

3.  Place the cream cheese in a medium bowl.  Mix with a hand mixer on medium speed until softened and uniform.  Add the pudding mix, sugar, almond extract, and amaretto.  Continue to mix until smooth.  (The mixture will be thick.)  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition until smooth.  Transfer the mixture to the baking pan and carefully spread to cover the crust. 

4.  Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until filling is puffy and mostly set.  Cool completely and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Pistachio Amaretto Cheesecake Bars - Out of the Oven
Mine browned a bit more than I wanted.  I took it out after 28  minutes.  The mixture is pretty solid from the get-go because of the pudding.  I think 20 to 25 minutes is the ticket.
5.  Make the whipped cream:  Place the cream in a medium bowl and add sugar and chocolate liqueur to taste.  Whip with a whisk until soft peaks form.  You can also use a hand mixer. 

6.  Cut the cheesecake into 8 bars.  Top with the whipped cream and mini chocolate chips.  Enjoy! 

Pistachio Amaretto Cheesecake Bars

There you have it!  My husband and I both thoroughly enjoyed these.  I was a little worried as I was mixing the cheesecake mixture because it was SUPER thick, but it worked out just fine.  I was afraid that it would get thicker as it baked, but it stayed creamy and luscious.  It was definitely solid all the way through, but I found that to be a bonus.  It was easy to cut into nice pieces.

This is a great recipe to turn to on some random Tuesday when you just want a delicious taste of something sweet (with a modest amount of leftovers to enjoy).  However, next time I want a beautiful, large cheesecake with a much more refined presentation than these bars, I'll try Sarah's recipe at The Gold Lining Girl!

Feel free to comment on this recipe.  Did you try it?  What did you think?  Isn't the color of pistachio pudding just . . . unnatural?  Not like real pistachios at all.  Ha ha.  But it's so good . . . :)

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