Rasmalai Cheesecake Bars
Holidays are a BIG thing in my household, and Diwali has to be one of my favorite holidays of the year. It’s special because it combines all of my favorite aspects that I love about every other holiday in ONE.
To start, it’s the start of a new year. I am all about pressing the reset button, counting my blessings, and goal-setting for the year ahead. I am a total planner and I like taking the time to think about the ways I want to grow, things I want to learn, and dreams I’d like to achieve.
Dressing up is a must, everything sweet is the motto, and after Daylight Savings hits- I say it’s about time that we light up every single candle in the house with a side of twinkling lights, reminiscent of my college dorm days. I am here for all of the nostalgic feels!
Any holiday in my book calls for delicious treats that are easy to share and even easier to eat & enjoy. Cue in rasmalai cheesecake bars, my take on a cheesecake bar that serves up everything you love about ras malai: the OG Indian cheesecake that STILL shines bright without a crust in luscious-&-creamy cheesecake bar form.
While Diwali sure looks a little different this year, I hope you are taking time to celebrate YOU. Sending you & yours lots of love & light this holiday season. Cheers to a brighter year ahead!
2 (8 oz) blocks of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 1/2 cups white sugar, divided
1 teaspoon rose water, optional but highly recommended
1/8 teaspoon of saffron, diluted in 1 tablespoon of warm whole milk or plant-based milk like oat milk
2 (8 oz) cans of refrigerated crescent rolls (I used Pillsbury Original Crescent Rolls)
2 teaspoons of ground cardamom powder
1/2 cup butter, softened at room temperature
1/4 cup of sweetened condensed milk, optional
3 tablespoons of unsalted chopped pistachios, optional for garnish
2 tablespoons of dried rose petals, optional for garnish
Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.
Then, steep your saffron in the tablespoon of warm milk for at least 10-11 minutes.
Once your saffron is done steeping, get started on your filling! Begin by beating together the cream cheese with 1 cup of sugar, rose water, and the saffron in milk mixture until well combined and perfectly creamy. This usually takes 4-6 minutes at high speed.
Once you’re done with the filling, let’s make the topping. In a separate small bowl, stir together the softened butter, cardamom, and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Make sure your butter is soft enough when you start and keep mixing until you form a single compound. You know you are done when you have no granular bits of cardamom or sugar crystals left at the bottom of the bowl. Set aside.
Time to make our bars! Spray a 9x13 inch nonstick baking dish with cooking spray and then carefully unroll one can of crescent rolls firmly down, stretching it as needed to cover the bottom of the baking dish and making sure to pinch any gaps to make a smooth, uniform, and singular sheet.
Then, evenly spread the cream cheese mixture across the flattened crescent roll sheet, smoothing it as you go with a rubber spatula. Once you have got the filling down, stretch the other remaining can of crescent rolls dough to cover the cream cheese mixture, forming a sheet as we did for the bottom of the cheesecake bars. Be sure to pinch together any holes created from stretching the top sheet of dough and gently push the edges of the sheet out to ensure you cover the entirety of the cream cheese filling.
Finally, spread the surface with the butter-cardamom-sugar mixture you made earlier across the top of the dish.
Bake your bars for roughly 30-35 minutes, until the crescent roll dough has puffed and is fabulously golden. Remove from the oven and immediately drizzle with the sweetened condensed milk while the bars are still hot.
Lastly, top with crushed pistachios and rose petals (if desired) for an extra festive touch.
Cool completely in the pan before cutting your bars into squares to enjoy!
~ Feeds 12
The hardest part is the waiting! Make sure that the bars are COMPLETELY cool before diving in. This usually takes about 30-45 minutes.
To store, tightly wrap the top of your baking dish with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for up to a week. I like the bars best when served cold, while others have told me that they enjoyed them at room temperature! Your choice. :)