These vanilla orange cheesecake bars are like a cheesecake bar but better. I love the cereal crust, and wow do they disappear fast.
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My kids always beg me to buy cereal, but they never eat the entire box before they’ve over it. I hate to waste them and just throw them away, so I always get creative.
Can I use regular cream cheese to make vanilla orange squares?
Yes, you absolutely can. I usually write recipes that call for neufchatel because it acts and tastes like cream cheese but has less fat and fewer calories naturally.
Neufchatel doesn’t have fat removed where it becomes plastic-y and hard to work with. Nor does it taste like anything but your standard cream cheese.
I’m all in favor of making smart substitutes where I can, but this works equally well with neufchatel or regular cream cheese. Just make sure you bring it to room temperature before you start baking.
How do I store cheesecake bars?
If you have leftovers, store them in your fridge in an airtight container. You need to chill them (uncovered) before you serve them, and they stay in your fridge after that.
Enjoy them within the first two to three days, as the cereal topping will get soft no matter what you do. They still taste good a few days after that, but the texture isn’t the same.
You cannot freeze these orange cheesecake bars, however, as cream cheese and your freezer are not friends. It ruins the texture, so don’t try.
How do I quickly soften cream cheese?
If you forgot to take your neufchatel or cream cheese out of the fridge, don’t panic. You NEED to have it at room temperature for this or any other cheesecake recipe, but it’s possible to do it quickly.
First, do NOT microwave it. Not only does it have metal in the package that doesn’t react well with a microwave, but you don’t want to melt or cook it accidentally.
Instead, cut your cream cheese into small squares so it has more surface area to warm up faster. This also helps it mix in later, so I cut my cream cheese (and butter) into small squares every time I bake.
If you need it faster, place the unopened package of cheese into a bowl of warm water. This will soften it in about 10 or so minutes, but make sure you dry off the outside before you open it.
What can I use instead of Honey Bunches of Oats?
If you don’t have Honey Bunches of Oats, you can use Wheaties or Corn Flakes instead. If you use Wheaties, make sure to add a teaspoon of sugar to the melted butter.
If you don’t have cereal at all, you can make a graham cracker crust instead. Use 8 long rectangles of graham crackers for the crust.
If you use graham crackers, you do not need to press the additional quarter cup (one full rectangle crumbled into pieces but not crushed) if you do no wish to. These vanilla orange cheesecake bars look and taste good even without the topping.
How to Make Vanilla Orange Cheesecake Bars
Be sure your neufchatel or cream cheese is at room temperature. You will have lumps otherwise.
Ideally all your ingredients are at room temperature, as that ensures they combine more smoothly.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8×8 glass baking dish.
In your food processor, grind 2 cups of the cereal until it is just crumbs, along with the nutmeg. If you don’t have a food processor, put it in a bag and whack on it until it’s just crumbs – great for getting our your frustrations!
Note: You want to measure the cereal before you crush it. This isn’t 2 cups of cereal crumbs.
Melt the butter, and mix the two together until the cereal is completely coated with the melted butter. It will get there, although at first it looks as though there isn’t enough butter.
Pour the cereal mixture into the 8×8 pan and press it firmly together to make an even layer. This will be your crust, so you want it packed in pretty well.
In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar and the soft neufchatel until creamy. If you don’t have the cream cheese at least a little soft and do this step, you’ll end up with lumps later.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly between the additions. Ideally, you want your eggs at room temperature, as well.
Add the orange juice and mix until blended. Pour in the salt and baking powder and mix thoroughly before adding the flour.
Once it’s all incorporated, pour the mixture atop the crust you made. Note that you still have 1/4 cup of the cereal in reserve – we didn’t forget about it.
Bake the “cheesecake” for 30-35 minutes, until the center is set – basically until it doesn’t jiggle like liquid anymore. The edges of the dessert may be turning golden by this time, but that’s ok.
As soon as you take the bars from the oven, gently press the reserved 1/4 cup cereal into the top of the bars.
Let it come to room temperature, then refrigerate for 2-3 hours before cutting and serving. Another reason this is a great party dessert? It’s a must make ahead item!
Cut into small squares, as these are fairly rich, and serve. Keep this in an airtight container in the fridge.
They are best in the first 1-2 days, as the cereal topping will get soft, but that’s only if you’re able to have them stick around that long!
Save this vanilla orange cheesecake bars recipe so you can make them again!
- 2 1/4 cups Honey Bunches of Oats, divided
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 8 ounce package neufchatel, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons flour
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 8x8 glass baking dish.
- Crush 2 cups of the cereal until just crumbs remain. Reserve remaining 1/4 cup for later.
- Melt butter, and add butter and nutmeg to cereal crumbs. Mix until thoroughly coated with butter.
- Pour cereal mixture into prepared 8x8 pan, and press firmly to make an even layer.
- In a separate bowl, mix sugar and neufchatel until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly between additions. Add orange juice and mix until blended. Pour in salt and baking powder and mix thoroughly before adding flour.
- Once incorporated, pour mixture atop crust.
- Bake 30-35 minutes, until center is set. Immediately upon removing bars from the oven, gently press reserved 1/4 cup cereal into the top of bars.
- Let come to room temperature, then refrigerate 2-3 hours before cutting and serving.
- Cut into small squares and serve. Store in fridge up to three days in an airtight container.
- While this recipe calls for neufchatel, you can use regular cream cheese - it will just have more fat and calories.
- For more tips and hints, be sure to read the full article.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1 square
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 145Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 176mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 0gSugar: 14gProtein: 3g
This site uses an outside source to provide nutrition as a courtesy. If you need exact values, please calculate yourself.