Lemon White Chocolate Cream Bars

Creamy, light and so delicious, these lemon white chocolate cream bars are going to be the best dessert of summer. I’m calling it now. They’re amazing!

If you are a sucker for lemon desserts like I’m a sucker for lemon desserts, you probably need to stop what you are doing and take these lemon white chocolate cream bars very seriously. 

Not only do they hit strong and true in the lemon department, but the creamy cheesecake layer and buttery graham cracker crust help make these an absolute showstopper of a dessert. 

Lemonade vibe. Cheesecake vibe. It’s definitely a dessert with lots of very good vibes. 

square of lemon white chocolate cream bar on white plate with bite taken out

Three Layers of Bliss

These lemon white chocolate cream bars consist of three magical layers:

  • buttery, lightly sweet graham cracker crust (could easily sub in a shortbread or nilla wafer-type cookie)
  • creamy cheesecake layer elevated by mixing in melted white chocolate
  • a refreshing lemon layer (homemade) that’s a bit like pie filling or jello in consistency 

Since I already have a thing for lemon and white chocolate in desserts (this cheesecake and these brownies, for instance), these bars were bound to be an instant favorite.

pulling a piece of lemon cheesecake bar away with fork

Why White Chocolate? 

As someone who has a professed distaste for white chocolate in its purest form (team dark chocolate forever and ever), you might be wondering why I add melted white chocolate to some of my favorite desserts?

Well, adding white chocolate adds sweetness, richness and extra creaminess without an overwhelming white chocolate flavor. The delicious effect is really quite remarkable, especially in a simple no-bake cheesecake batter like this.

These redeeming qualities soften my heart toward white chocolate just a little bit. A very little bit.

whipping cheesecake batter in glass bowl with electric hand mixer

While the recipe may seem a bit long with those three separate parts, it actually comes together without a lot of fuss.

The easy graham cracker crust gets baked until set, cooled, and then topped by the luscious white chocolate creamy cheesecake layer. 

After the cream layer goes on, refrigerate the pan until further notice. We need to tackle that lemon layer. 

assembling graham cracker crust and layering cheesecake batter in baked crust

Lemon Layer for the Win

The lemon layer is a simmered and thickened mixture of:

  • cold water
  • sugar
  • fresh lemon juice
  • cornstarch
  • pinch of salt

I played around with several variations of these bars, trying to get the cornstarch amount adjusted just right so the lemon layer was thick and set up without being too gelatinous.

After simmering, it will be thinner than pudding, but it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Off the heat, stir in the butter, lemon zest, and a small drip of yellow food coloring (this is optional), and then pour the mixture into a bowl, press plastic wrap on the surface, and chill until cooled completely but still spreadable.

Spread the lemon mixture over the cheesecake layer and chill again until fully set up. The lemon layer will have the consistency of soft jello when it has set up all the way.

making lemon topping for cream bars with lemon zest and butter in stainless pan
lemon topping on top of cheesecake layer for lemon white chocolate cream bars

Food coloring: yay or nay

The yellow food coloring in the lemon layer is optional. It doesn’t affect flavor, but it does add a more pronounced yellow color. Basically, it’s for looks only.

In the pictures below, the bar on the left has yellow food coloring added to the lemon layer while the bar on the right does not. 

(Incidentally, the bars on the left were also made with lowfat cream cheese, and you can see how it affects the fluffy texture of the cream/cheesecake layer; I highly recommend using full fat cream cheese for this recipe.)

side by side pictures of lemon white chocolate cream bars with yellow food coloring and without

That interesting top lemon layer gives these bars a distinctive “lemonade” vibe.

And if you’ve ever wondered how lemonade would fare next to  a creamy cheesecake and sweet crust, I can tell you it fares very well. Very well indeed.

As with all desserts like this, I’m already wondering what sort of possibilities we can dream up for variations. Lime or key lime is a no brainer. What about lemon blueberry? Grapefruit? 

I’m counting on you guys. You always come through with the best suggestions and variations. 

Until then, I hope you find time and a reason to make these lemon white chocolate cream bars! They really are amazing and would make the best dessert for summer entertaining (or just staying at home!). 

square of lemon white chocolate cream bars on white plate with bite on fork

FAQ for Lemon White Chocolate Cream Bars:

Can I use lowfat cream cheese?

I’ve made different batches with lowfat and full fat cream cheese, and the lowfat cream cheese doesn’t work as well. The cream layer is runnier and not as fluffy and rich. I recommend using full fat cream cheese.

Is bottled lemon juice ok? Or is fresh lemon juice best?

Fresh lemon juice is best for a brighter more natural flavor.

Can these bars be frozen?

I haven’t tried freezing them, so I’m not 100% sure, but I think they’re probably best made and eaten within a couple of days and not frozen (baked cheesecake freezes well, but I’m not sure how no-bake cheesecake desserts freeze). The good news is they can be made a day or so in advance and refrigerated.

Can I substitute another cookie or cracker for the graham crackers?

You can try using a shortbread cookie or a “nilla wafer” type cookie. Either should work fine!

One Year Ago: Rhubarb Custard Cake
Two Years Ago: Super Easy Focaccia Bread (No Mixer Needed!) 
Three Years Ago: Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing
Four Years Ago: Caramel Snickers Cheesecake Bars
Five Years Ago: Delicious No-Bake Cookie Dough Bites
Six Years Ago: Foil Packet Sweet Potato Tacos
Seven Years Ago: Easy Brazilian Cheese Bread {Pao de Queijo}
Eight Years Ago: Apple Cinnamon Waffles with Cinnamon Syrup 
Nine Years Ago: Apple Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Ten Years Ago: Citrus and Soy-Marinated Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Yield:
16 servings

Prep Time:
1 hour

Cook Time:
20 minutes

Additional Time:
6 hours

Total Time:
7 hours 20 minutes

square of lemon white chocolate cream bar on white plate with bite taken out

Ingredients

Lemon Layer:

  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1 1/2 cups (11.25 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 4 lemons – zest before juicing)
  • 1/3 cup (2 ounces) cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 drop yellow food coloring, optional (see note)

Crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups (8.75 ounces) crushed graham cracker crumbs (about 16 rectangles)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated or brown sugar
  • 12 tablespoons butter, melted (I use salted)

White Chocolate Cream Layer:

  • 1 cup (6 ounces) white chocolate chips or bar, chopped (NOT almond bark or candy coating)
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened (see note)
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled (see note)

Instructions

  1. For the lemon layer, in a medium saucepan, whisk together the cold water, sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, and salt. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to thicken and large bubbles pop at the surface. Continue cooking for 1-2 minutes (it’s important to continue letting it simmer so it will set up as it cools).
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and butter. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface, and place in the refrigerator until completely cooled.
  3. For the crust, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9X13-inch pan with parchment paper or foil (for easier removal and cleanup; optional). Stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter until evenly combined. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden and set. Set aside to cool completely.
  4. For the cream filling, melt the white chocolate until just melted and smooth; don’t over heat or it can seize and scorch. I use the microwave at 50% power for 1-minute increments, stirring in between. Set aside.
  5. Add the cream cheese to a mixing bowl and mix with a handheld electric or stand mixer until smooth and creamy, 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the melted white chocolate (if it’s overly warm, let cool until just slightly warm) and mix again until well-combined.
  6. Add the powdered sugar and salt and mix until evenly combined, 1-2 minutes. (See note below about the heavy cream.) Add the heavy cream to the batter and mix on medium speed until the batter is thick and creamy, 2-3 minutes.
  7. Spread the cream layer evenly on top of the cooled crust. Chill for 1-2 hours until the cream layer sets up a bit.
  8. Once the lemon layer is completely cooled, whisk to recombine and spread evenly over the cream layer. Chill in the refrigerator until the lemon layer is set up, 4-6 hours.
  9. Cut into squares and serve. Include a fresh lemon slice or twist, if desired.

Notes

Food Coloring: the yellow food coloring is completely optional. In the post, there’s a side by side picture of the dessert made using yellow food coloring in the lemon layer and without. If you want a vibrant yellow layer that screams lemon, a drop of food coloring will help. Otherwise, the topping will be pale and somewhat colorless (tastes delicious either way).

White Chocolate: white chocolate chips can be a little finicky when melting. If using white chocolate chips, melt on low heat and stir often until just melted; don’t over heat. I almost always use the thin Ghirardelli white chocolate baking bars (usually in the chocolate chip aisle). They melt really well. Don’t use almond bark or candy coating – the flavor will be fakey and ‘off’ and far too sweet.

Cream Cheese: I have used both full fat and low fat cream cheese in different batches. Full fat cream cheese works much better – richer, creamier flavor and thicker consistency. The low fat cream cheese filling was much softer and less set up.

Heavy Cream: for this recipe, I add the heavy cream unwhipped directly to the batter and it thickens as it mixes with the other ingredients. I use 40% fat heavy whipping cream from Costco. If you are using heavy cream with a lower fat percentage, you may need to whip it to soft peaks before folding into the cream cheese mixture.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Recipe Source: adapted from this recipe at Jamie Cooks It Up (changed the crust, altered ingredient amounts for the lemon layer, etc) after Bri H. (a longtime MKC reader emailed me and told me I had to make it ASAP)

Posted on May 10, 2021 by Mel

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Grocery Demo
Logo
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Compare
0
Shopping cart