If I had to name my favorite dessert, I'd say cheesecake and soft, warm chocolate chip cookies would be tied for first place. These decadent bars have the best of both worlds!
Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Bars
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 package (12 ounces) chocolate chips
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375°. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine sugars, butter and vanilla. Beat until creamy. Add eggs and mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix again. Stir in chocolate chips.
Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Press about half (a little less) of the cookie dough into the bottom of the pan, all the way to the edges. Transfer remaining cookie dough to your (now empty) dry ingredients bowl. Wash out your mixing bowl.
In your (now clean) mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and egg. Mix until smooth and well blended. Pour over the top of the pan of cookie dough. Dollop 9 teaspoonfuls of reserved cookie dough over the cream cheese layer. Bake at 375° for 22-25 minutes until it's very lightly browned.
Cool completely, remove from pan using foil to lift it out, and cut into squares. Yield: 2 dozen bars
Now, the awesome part of this is that you have some cookie dough left over! You can do one of a few things with it:
1) Bake cookies right away! 8-10 minutes at 375°. This should make about 2 dozen cookies.
2) Portion the dough out onto wax paper covered cookie sheets, freeze it, then transfer it to a freezer bag. Whenever you want a few fresh cookies, just pull some out and bake as usual.
3) Make a bigger batch of the bars to begin with and eliminate the leftovers! Just follow the recipe and make these changes: double the cream cheese layer, use a 9x13 pan, and add 7-10 minutes to the cooking time. (You'll use just over half the dough for the bottom cookie layer, of course.)