Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tropical Cheesecake Bars

This is one of those times where I turned a complete and utter sinking ship of a shenanigan into tasty dessert MAGIC.  With a little luck, a memory that works so much better when I am frantically trying to fix something, and a strong desire to avoid failure, you can make just about anything work as far as I am concerned.

Life is meant to work, it wants to work.  Or at least I like to pretend that is the way of the world.  My blog, my rules, after all.

This time, I have decided to make you suffer through the background story of all of this and then relay the actual recipe in the end.  I am attempting to teach the world a "never give up" style lesson.

So I really liked the dessert cheeseball I made my best friend.  I wanted a tropical one, all pineapple-y and coconut-y and orange-y and yummy.  However, I think my lack of draining the fruit 100% and then adding in some maraschino cherry juice and just not having the luck I needed for the day, it ended up rather runny and syrupy.  Hmm, I said to myself, this is no good. 

So I hop in my car and I go get cool whip.  At this point I am thinking I will just make it a dip, right, and cool whip will make it more creamy and dreamy. NO, cool whip failed me like always. 

So I sat and I pondered, and I pondered and sat (with the mix in the fridge), and then thought some more.  I was thinking about what I had invested in the mix.  The amounts of this and the amounts of that.  I pondered substitutions, I pondered additions...and came to me!

CHEESECAKE BARS!  Ice cream was a big no go for this, especially since my machine is at school.  But I have seen a million cheesecake bar recipes and similar, and what I had already put in just needed a few eggs and a base to make it happen! 

Here's what I did:

-1 pack of reduced fat cream cheese
-2 eggs
-3/4 container of cool whip
-1.5 lb powdered sugar
-1/2 can of pineapple tidbits, but you should use a whole small drained can of crushed if you have it because that was my original plan
-1 small can of drained mandarin oranges, chopped up a bit
-handful of coconut
-1 tsp of maraschino cherry juice (optional)

-1 box orange supreme cake mix
-1 stick melted butter
-1 egg

Mix the bottom 3 and press into the bottom of a 9x13.  Mix all of the top ones and pour over it.  If you don't have coolwhip, leave it out and cut the sugar down to 1 lb.  That is more along the lines of traditional cheesecake bars, it just HAPPENS to work with the cool whip too.  I think the coolwhip version comes out with more of a chewy top around the edges whereas originals come out with a soft or crunchy top depending on a few other things.

Bake at 350 for at least 45 minutes.  Depending on how thick your cream cheese topping is, you may need to bake it longer. But as I learned tonight, if you just watch the dish, it will tell you when it is done. We usually let these cool, covered, overnight and then cut. But as long as you let them sit an hour or two, you should be able to cut them and get them out of the pan. 

I love having a window and a light on the oven here at home.  Mine at my apartment has neither.  Quite sad.  But I was watching this dish bake, asking myself the odds of it coming out good (50/50 it either does or does not).  As it bakes, it rises up, gets air bubbles, is light, etc.  Then, eventually you start seeing the bubbles go down, the color start to darken, and everything settle.

I equate it to having to go on stage.  You get ready to do it and get all worked out and antsy, then (hopefully) you pull yourself together and are good to go.  When I started seeing the top sink and it flatten down and golden up, I knew I was going to be ok.  Mine ended up baking over an hour, but my topping was really thick.  Just watch it and add time accordingly.  If you pull it out and it is wobbly, it isn't done.  When you pull it out and it is just set in the middle, you are good to go. 

Pineapple cake as a base would also be plenty fine, coconut would be delicious.  Play around with it. And most of all, don't give up.  On anything.  At least not until you have exhausted all of the options. 

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

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