No-Bake Dessert Is Ideal For Warm Weather Entertaining

Backyard barbecues beckon and poolside entertaining reigns supreme every summer. After guests have had their fill of fire-licked grilled burgers, hot dogs and chicken, a refreshing dessert that won’t have summertime hosts sweating preparation can make for the perfect culinary capper.

“Banana Pudding Cheesecake Bars” marry tangy cream cheese with sweet and velvety banana pudding atop a cookie crust. They’re easy to prepare ahead of time and easily sliced when the dessert bell beckons. Double up the recipe if you’re expecting a crowd or want to have a few leftovers — they’re that delicious. Enjoy this recipe, courtesy of Lena Abraham, senior food editor and stylist at Delish.

Banana Pudding Cheesecake Bars
Yields: 9 servings

For crust

11⁄2 cup crushed vanilla wafer cookies

5 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons sugar

Pinch sea salt

For filling

11⁄2 (8 ounces) blocks cream cheese, softened

1⁄2 cup sugar

11⁄2 cup whipped topping

1 3.4-ounce package instant banana pudding mix

13⁄4 cup whole milk

For topping

1⁄2 banana, sliced

9 vanilla wafer cookies

1. Line an 8-inch by 8-inch pan with parchment paper.

2. Make crust: In a medium bowl, combine crushed wafer cookies with butter, sugar and salt. Press in an even layer into the prepared pan. Place in freezer while making filling.

3. Make cheesecake filling: In a large bowl using a hand mixer (or in a stand mixer), beat cream cheese until fluffy and no clumps remain. Add sugar and beat until combined.  Fold in whipped topping and set aside.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together pudding mix and milk. Let pudding stand for 3 minutes in the refrigerator, until thickened. Fold into cheesecake mixture until well combined.

5. Pour filling into prepared crust and smooth into an even layer. Freeze until bars are firm, at least 6 hours and up to overnight.

6. When firm, remove from freezer and slice into nine bars. Top each bar with a dollop of whipped topping, a slice of banana and a vanilla cookie before serving.

Note: If banana isn’t your favorite flavor, replace banana pudding with lemon pudding and use a thin lemon slice in the whipped topping dollop as a garnish when serving.

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