Cream Cheese Chocolate Cake Bars


Let me start out by saying this: If you have a gym membership, you should definitely use it after you eat these. If you don't have one, get one.  I came across this recipe on another of my favorite blogs - Averie Cooks - and knew I had to try them.  Cream Cheese. I am sold. Averie Cooks has other delicious recipes and photos as well.  She also adds some great tips on how to keep this recipe vegan and gluten-free.

Whoever gets to try these will love you forever. IF they get to try them, that is.


Makes 24 bars
Ingredients:
1 box devil’s food cake chocolate cake mix (or your favorite boxed chocolate cake mix)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 can (14-ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract for the cream cheese. (Averie Cooks says that clear imitation vanilla extract will keep this layer whiter. I didn't have any so I just used the regular vanilla extract)
Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350F and prepare a 9-by-13 inch pan by lining it with aluminum foil and then spraying it with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, butter, egg, vanilla and mix either with a mixer, with a spoon, or with your hands, kneading it together. The batter will be extremely thick and will be difficult to combine, but keep stirring or use your fingers and knead it together, adding the water if necessary. Press the dough into the prepared pan. It will be a bit difficult to work with, but keep pressing and spreading it out. Sprinkle the white and dark chocolate chips evenly over the top.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk and cream cheese, stir until well combined, and pour mixture evenly over dough, using a spatula to gently spread and even it if necessary. Bake for 24 to 27 minutes, or until edges of bars begin to barely brown and pull away slightly from the sides of the pan, or until the middle has barely set, taking care not to overbake. Note that the middle will not seem very well set and will be jiggly upon removing from oven and that is okay, you want to keep these gooey. They will continue to set up more after they have cooled. Allow bars to cool well before slicing and serving. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze for up to three months.
VEGAN-FRIENDLY TIPS
To keep vegan, use a vegan cake mix, a flax egg, vegan white chocolate chips, vegan cream cheese, and coconut milk (full-fat), sweetened to taste, in place of the sweetened condensed milk. To keep gluten-free, use gluten free cake mix. Take care all ingredients used are suitable for your dietary needs.

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