This post is about self control.
Sorry, I meant to preface that with “lack of.”
I work with two crazy secretaries. Crazy in a way that is usually funny but occasionally makes me wonder if Suzanne Somers and Candid Camera are back. Today the older one, who believes astrology is law and had a mild panic attack when they blocked Facebook from our computers, brought in cake. She had hosted a baby shower for her daughter-in-law and brought us the leftovers and also some extra favors- little potpourri bags that gave me a migraine for the rest of the day. I, however, declined the cake because I had brought one of the brownies I made last night in my lunch. I was feeling very proud of my restraint, until I got home from work and ate the rest of the pan. There was literally 1/3 of it left. Then I started in on the cold cuts- literally eating slices of Virginia ham straight from the bag. And then I ate an apple, just for kicks. I was like the very hungry caterpillar. Then I looked in the pantry. My mom had gone to Wegmans, and she bought animal crackers.
Now if you haven’t noticed my love affair with Wegmans, you’re blind. Unrequited love in its purest form. Despite the sometimes jacked up prices on certain items, the Wegmans brand stuff is very trustworthy. And without a doubt the absolute BEST Wegmans brand product are the animal crackers. Don’t even show me Barnums. These are like half animal cracker half Nilla wafer- a little sweeter, almost cookie like. Delicious. When I broke up with my boyfriend sophomore year of college my mom sent me a box of them in the mail. I ate these, and only these, for four days straight and then hurled the empty box across the room while my roommate stared at me helplessly from her bed. If you didn’t think I was crazy before reading this post, I’m sure you do now.
Anyway, I started brainstorming something delicious to do with these animal crackers to take them to an even greater level- and I decided on cheesecake. I threw some crackers into the food processor and ground them up into 3/4 cup of powder/crumble state and then mixed with 2-3 tablespoons of butter. Using a measuring cup I pressed them into the bottom of a greased 8×8 pan to form my crust.
Then I mixed an 8 oz brick of softened cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar with an electric mixer. I added 1 tsp vanilla and 1 egg, and then about 2 tbs more of crushed animal crackers. I couldn’t help myself.
I poured the cheese mixture over the crust and baked at 350 for 15 minutes, until my finger didn’t stick to the top when I poked it (I know, such scientific baking measures here.) Let it cool on the counter for 10-15 minutes. Then I employed sous chef Kevin to help me with the chocolate and peanut butter “drizzle” to make it a little more festive and add some additional flavors into the mix. What I really wanted to do was go to the store and buy some Nutella to do a layer of that in between the crust and the cheesecake. But I can’t have Nutella in the house because I eat it with a spoon until I feel nauseous. As I mentioned earlier, the whole self control thing is an issue for me.
The chocolate didn’t melt very well in the microwave- I probably should have added some butter or cream to make it more liquid-y and/or used a double boiler, but I ran out of chocolate chips. So it was more of a delicate schmear using my fingers. Then Kevin whipped the melted peanut butter all over the top with a spoon. He had much greater success with the texture.
Once the pan is cool enough to handle, refrigerate for about an hour. I then moved it to the freezer for another hour to firm up a little faster. Cut into bars and serve cold.
In the future I think it would have made my life easier to line the pan with tin foil or parchment paper, because the crust was a little crumbly in some spots. I also would have used more crumbs (about a cup) to make the crust a little thicker. But that’s also because I really like the animal crackers. Could you tell?
Animal Cracker Cheesecake Bars
about 1 cup + 2 tbs ground animal crackers
3 tbs butter
1 8 oz brick cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbs melted chocolate
2 tbs melted peanut butter
Combine 1 cup of animal cracker crumbs with 3 tbs melted butter. Press into the bottom of a greased (or lined) 8×8 baking dish. Using an electric mixer, combine softened cream cheese, sugar, egg, vanilla, and 2 tbs crumbs. Pour over crust. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Top with chocolate and peanut butter, or whatever toppings you like. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.