nutella swirl cheesecake bars

When a Top Chef winner tells you to #LiveOffTheMenu. You just do it.

And you do it hard.

michael voltaggio

And when that Top Chef is Michael Voltaggio?

You swoon, and you giggle, and you bat your eyelashes because, CUTE.

And then you eat all the food and drink all the drinks, because the guy with the tattoos up and down his arms said so.

It is definitely the right thing to do.

bartender

Last week I had the opportunity to take part in a culinary experience hosted by S.Pellegrino at Bathhouse Studios in Manhattan. I say “experience” and not “event” or “dinner” with intention, because it was exactly that – an experience.

The theme of the night was “Live in Italian”, and as soon as I walked into the venue, I felt like I was walking into the center of a piazza in Tuscany. One corner was filled with flowers and loaves of bread that we were free to pull off a chunk of if we got hungry. On the other side of the room, a band was playing and we were encouraged to dance and let the music take us.

Every last detail, down to the bartenders’ suspenders, was carefully selected so that it really felt like we were being immersed in Italian culture, and the whole night was imbued with the Italian passion for food and life.

drinks

I hung out with some blogger friends for most of the evening – Susan, Kelli, Ashley, and Aly – and we made sure to start our night off right by hitting up the bar. There were three signature cocktails on offer for the night and between the five of us, I’m pretty sure we tried each one. (A few times over.) My favorite was definitely the Bella Frutta, which was infused with fun and fruity strawberry flavor, but with a hint of basil to keep things interesting. There was also a spin on the Negroni, which I neglected to try, and a Peach Apertivo, which was almost like a slightly stronger version of a bellini.

The passed hor d’oeurves served during the cocktail hour were plentiful and offered a wide variety of textures and flavors, ranging from dehydrated carrot wrapped in beef tongue (I passed on it) to a whimsical a spin on eggplant parm that involved an eggplant tomato mousse served with a parmesan cracker. We ate our fill while taking in the scene around us, before we were whisked upstairs to an outdoor patio where dinner was being served.

burrata

In keeping with the night’s theme of celebrating food to it’s fullest without having to worry about following all of the rules of fine dining, the dinner space was decorated so that it felt like we were picnicking with friends instead of eating a five-star meal with (mostly) strangers. Vibrant flowers decorated every table and the room was awash in color and greenery, a rare sight in NYC.

Michael Voltaggio, our chef for the night, came out in between each course to make some jokes and describe to us exactly what we were eating. The bulk of the menu was planned and made in LA, where he is from, and then flown to NYC by plane. There were some mishaps along the way, of course, but Voltaggio’s ingenuity in describing them only served to give the night more of an authentic feel. There was no pretense at all, just a bunch of people who are really passionate about food, sharing a meal together.

The first course consisted of a large dollop of gloriously creamy burrata topped with caviar, toasted pine nuts, zucchini rolls, and an aged balsamic. The tart balsmic offset the richness of the cheese and caviar, and each bite was pretty much a revelation.

If eating like that is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

Next came the fish course, which was (of course) branzino (how much more Mediterranean can you get?!) served with crispy dehydrated cauliflower, pickled cauliflower florets, and a nutty cauliflower puree. The fish itself was fall-apart tender, well-seasoned, and perfectly cooked.

For obvious reasons, I couldn’t appreciate the meat course to it’s fullest extent, but from what I could tell, it was pretty well received. I did, however, try the banana polenta that came with it and was surprised at how much I liked it given that I am generally pretty on the fence about banana-flavored things. It was mostly savory with just a hint of sweet and the banana flavor was both present, and not. Hard to describe, but suffice it to say that it was done well if even I could tolerate and enjoy it!

The night was capped off by a decadent dessert of a gianduja (or chocolate hazelnut) ganache log served with caramelized white chocolate and strawberry frozen yogurt to offset the chocolate’s bitterness. A rosemary-ash pizelle on top infused a slight herbal quality to the course.

For most of the dinner, I stuck to white wine as my drink of choice, though those sips were interspersed with glassfuls of S.Pellegrino’s absurdly refreshing sparkling natural mineral water. It helped to cleanse the palate and satiate my thirst, both of which were key in enjoying the meal.

In all, my experience at this Off The Menu event was a great one. I loved being surrounded by people who are as passionate about food and eating as I am, and just wanted to live in the moment, from bite to bite. This spirit and attitude towards life and food shouldn’t be restricted only to those who could attend the event, so to spread the love, so to speak, S.Pellegrino is hosting an Off The Menu Pinterest Sweepstakes, the winner of which will receive a year’s supply of S.Pellegrino Sparkling Water! All you have to do to enter is to create a board that captures the spirit of this kind of dinner party, including recipes, decor, unique place settings, themes, etc. For inspiration, feel free to check out the Pinterest board that I created and entered into the sweepstakes!

To see video footage from the event, (potentially including images of me double fisting cocktails) check out S.Pellegrino’s YouTube page!

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For days after the event, Michael Voltaggio’s imperative to #LiveOffTheMenu, break free of any and all so-called “food rules”, and just eat what you want and what you love kept ringing in my ears.

Combined with the memory of the chocolate hazelnut flavor from his gianduja ganache still on my taste buds?

I needed Nutella and I needed it YESTERDAY.

And thus, these Nutella cheesecake swirl bars came into this world. On a wing and a prayer and a craving six miles wide.

If that doesn’t embody the #LiveOffTheMenu #LivingInItalian spirit to the fullest, I can’t really say what does.

Bon appetito.

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Nutella Cheesecake Swirl Bars
 
Rich Nutella and vanilla cheesecake layers are swirled together to create a decadent dessert bar that you won't soon forget.
Yield: 16 bars
Ingredients
  • 24 Oreos or chocolate wafer cookies
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 16 oz lowfat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup + 1 tbsp heavy cream, divided
  • ⅓ cup Nutella
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 325. Grease an 8x8-inch baking pan and then line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the Oreos until they are finely ground. Add the melted butter and pulse until they are evenly moistened. Pour the Oreo crumbs into the prepared baking pan and pat down to form an even layer. Bake for 12 minutes or until set. Let cool slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, clean out the food processor and add the cream cheese, eggs, sugar, and ¼ cup of heavy cream to it. Pulse until pureed and smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Pour ⅔ of the filling into the prepared crust. To the remaining ⅓ of the filling, add the nutella and 1 tbsp of heavy cream. Pulse until combined and smooth. Pour over the cheesecake filling and spread into as smooth of a layer as possible. To create the swirled effect, drag a knife or a spoon through it in zigzags.
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until set around the edges but still a bit wobbly in the center. Let cool and then refrigerate overnight before serving.
Notes
Adapted slightly from Tide and Thyme
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 bar

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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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75 Responses to Nutella Cheesecake Swirl Bars

  1. Sune Moolman says:

    Sounds like you’ve had a fabulous experience! The cauliflower dishes that were served with the fish sounds amazing.
    Thanks for this recipe – my hubby is a chocoholic and I’m forever looking for ideas to incorporate chocolate into things I like. This is a win-win! 🙂

  2. I am insanely jealous of you for that event – and Michael Voltaggio… ah!

    Sometimes you just NEED nutella, nothing wrong with that:-)

  3. Your night sounds like an absolute BLAST. You should have taken me along! 😉 I can’t get over how amazing that burrata appetizer sounds. Must. Try. That.
    And these bars! Girl, nutella and cheesecake is pretty much the best combo out there and you NAILED it in these gorgeous bars. I’ll take 10, please and thank you. 😀

  4. ONE word…awesome! Nutella makes everything sweet!

  5. How freaking fun is this?! Sounds like such an awesome “experience”! Also, these bars?! They are allllllll mine. Making them and hiding them.

  6. Min says:

    What an incredible experience! Live off the menu I shall! Perhaps I’ll think of something incredible to make in the kitchen as well ;). That banana polenta really intrigues me..I would imagine it to be pretty sweet..In any case, who can pass up nutella? Not this girl!

  7. Wow that is one amazing experience! I would listen to anything he said too, and no one would be able to tell which I was drooling over more – him or the food. Oh and btw these cheesecake bars are beautiful! That swirl is perfections.

  8. Julia says:

    What a fun experience!! Seeing events like that makes me wish I was living in a bustling metropolis with all sorts of culture. The closest thing to a hoorah like that in my town is the local burrito joint, which closes at 8pm on all the nights. Beautiful experience, indeed!

    Your swirl?! By golly girl, it looks amazing. Bring on that nutella!

  9. Leah Davis says:

    Check out that awesome swirl – I love it!!! What a cool night – I am a huge Top Chef fan so sounds like I would have really freaked over it.

  10. You’d achieved my idea of the perfect cheesecake texture! These look gorgeous.

  11. Dang these look glorious. Like, perfection. And so easy too! I’m totally jealous of your Italian getaway. That sounds amazing!

  12. danielle says:

    JEALOUS! Sounds like a fabulous night.

  13. What a fun night! I saw your pics on Instagram and everything looked so good!!

  14. Heather says:

    Sounds like an awesome and yummy time! I also like how easy and yummy these bars look! One of those perfect recipes to have on hand when you need a last minute treat!

  15. homieeee hook a sista up and bring me as your plus 1! Seriously, I die.

  16. OMG yes AMAZING! Plus holy hottie chef!! Envious!

  17. What an exciting and fun experience! These nutella swirled cheesecake bars look to die for.

  18. Michael Voltaggio is indeed swoon-worthy. And so is this Nutella cheesecake!

  19. What a beautiful event! I always have a few bottles of S.Pellegrino sparkling water available at all times. And those cheesecake swirl bars look incredible!

  20. SallyBR says:

    Amazing “experience” indeed! I could probably keep up with everything, except the drinks, I am SUCH a wimp….

    the cheesecake bars are amazing!!!!

  21. These cheesecake bars look EPIC!!! Me-ow. Loved seeing you again!!!

  22. What a great event. And what a great cheesecake!

  23. Oh my goodness – what a wonderful experience, Joanne – thanks for letting us live and drool through it with your fabulous recap! That savory banana polenta and chocolate hazelnut ganache log served with caramelized white chocolate and strawberry frozen yogurt sounds freakin amazing! So does this nutella cheesecake swirl – simply decadent!

  24. First of all, what an awesome event!
    And secondly, holy cow to these bars!!!

  25. Both he and his brother are amazing chefs and your evening sounds wonderful. These bars must have tasted delicious 🙂

  26. Eileen says:

    That sounds like such a fun night! Also, banana polenta?? On one hand, WHAT. On the other hand, even the weirdest of combinations can be excellent in the hands of a really talented chef. I would definitely be all over a few of these cheesecake bars! And I would get them all to myself, since I am the only eater of cream cheese in our house. MUAHA etc. 🙂

  27. I told myself that I can’t buy any more Nutella.. and then I see these bars! Well looks like I have to break the rules a bit!

    Lovely night, I can’t believe how much I ate. I needed a nap on the subway!

  28. […] fresco, in Italy. I was so inspired by the stories of Italy from some of my tablemates, like Susan, Joanne, and Ashley, that traveling to Italy is high on the bucket list. After all – shouldn’t we […]

  29. cheri says:

    What a cool event, sounds like fun. Nutella is my big weakness, love these bars.

  30. First – I need to make these bars – like yesterday! Oh my heavens – nutella & cheesecake – glorious! This event was amazing – so many favorite moments – so glad I was able to share it with you all!

  31. Teffy Perk says:

    Nutella? Swirl? Say whaaat? Gimme gimme gimme!
    Looks so sinfully good!

    {Teffy’s Perks} X

  32. Veronica says:

    What a lovely evening! And those bars. Glorious.

  33. Joyti says:

    That’s so awesome! It sounds like a fun event…

    And the nutella cheesecake swirl bars? Wow. These sound so incredible!

  34. Wow sounds like a fun night! And the Nutella swirl on the bars has to be awesome too ! These cheese cake bars are making us drool just looking at them.

  35. Hotly Spiced says:

    How lovely to be invited to such an ‘experience’. I would have loved to have been there. The food sounds interesting and innovative and I certainly have never tasted banana infused polenta. I have however enjoyed many bottles of San Pelligrino xx

  36. Monica says:

    I’m kind of stuck on gianduja ganache! I love it…I want to buy some hazelnut paste right now and make some. Needless to say, I adore your nutella cheesecake bars! Looks incredible.

  37. Sounds like you had an amazing time!

    And speaking of amazing…hello! These cheesecake bars? On my to do list!

  38. Sounds like lotsa fun! And these bars look so luscious and creamy. Must have.

  39. Baby June says:

    What a cool experience! And those cheesecake bars look mad good 🙂

  40. You had me when I read the title of this post. These bars look amaaazing! Holy smokes. I bow down to you. The event sounds super fun. I can’t believe Michael Voltaggio was your chef! So cool.

  41. Sofía says:

    You were lucky to be part of that experience and it’s pretty awesome when you’re surrounded by people who are passionate for something so great as food. I’m looking forward to try that recipe 🙂 Wish you a happy weekend!

  42. Isn’t he great?
    I met him briefly, 3 years ago?
    He was at chatham for an event, cooking of course.
    And have I made a nutella cheesecake yet? I don’t know. LOL

  43. Sounds like you’ve had an amazing experience! I am happy for you!
    This recipe is insane, Jeanne! Gorgeous and Delicious! I wish I could have this desert after lunch 😉

  44. […]  since I saw this, I can’t stop thinking about it.  (singing: you are always on my mind) so luscious.  so creamy.  Nutella overload.  is there such a thing? I’ve been thinking about making these for a […]

  45. ummm, what a fun event! and cheesecake PLUS nutella???! yum!

  46. Oh my god these look sooo good! The slices are so perfectly cut and the photography is amazing!

  47. Pam says:

    It sounds like a really fun and super tasty event!

    The Nutella bars have me drooling….

  48. Alex Caspero says:

    Give me all the nutella…. in everything! Your evening sounds amazing and so do these bars!

  49. Foodiewife says:

    While I love where I live, I far and away from the food blogger venues. So, I can enjoy them vicariously through you. It sounds like a magical evening. I waited to experience Nutella until just a couple of years ago. Where have I been? These look amazing, and I need to figure out how to adapt these to my pressure cooker cheesecake recipe. Stat!

  50. Zainab says:

    So so jealous!! The event looks wonderful and swoon at the top chef!! Nutella fixes everything!!!!

  51. Once again, your slices make me absolutely swoon 😀
    Delicious looking and what an awesome event!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  52. Johanna GGG says:

    oooh that looks so good – I really need nutella in my life (well my head says that but my hips are not so sure) – and I am intrigued by banana polenta – sounds like a fun dinner

  53. grace says:

    beautiful! there is no application of nutella that i do not wholeheartedly support. 🙂

  54. That night sounds beyond amazing! I’m a Top Chef junkie, so I would have been swooning all over the place. I have a crush on Michael for sure!

  55. Wow, this is phenomenal and I SO wish I could’ve been there!

  56. Mary Frances says:

    What a fun evening! Since I won’t be that classy any time soon 😉 I think I’ll party with some Oreos and Nutella tonight. You NAILED these. So swoon worthy. Happy weekend Joanne!

  57. What a great experience! That’s it, I’m moving to Manhattan! Got room for me + 4?
    I assume that you made these for my birthday and I assume that they are in the mail………..
    :}

  58. Reeni says:

    I had Pellegrino today! Funny ’cause I hadn’t any in a long time. What a fun event – everything sounds delicious and unique. . . banana polenta?! Your nutella bars are dreamy! I want to stuff my face with them right now.

  59. Oh Joanne!!!!! This sounds like such A FUN EVENING!!!!!!!!!!!! Loving the cocktails and all that fooooood!!!!!! Yumm! DO I need to even mention how super-amazing these nutella cheesecake bars look???? I wish I could just get into the screen and grab those delish bars and that swirly pattern… OMG. I.CAN’T.EVEN!!!!! Pinning!!!!!! 😀

  60. Daaaang, girl, these look amazing! Who needs a menu when you come up with bars like these?!

  61. What a fun event – everything looked amazing and so glad you had a great time 🙂 And these cheesecake bars? So so gorgeous – that swirl is just perfect 🙂

  62. Heather says:

    Oh, man-anything will Nutella is my weak point!

  63. Kate says:

    This is quite the amazing event!

  64. Isadora says:

    That sounds like such an amazing night!! I bet you had so much fun! And, as for these nutella cheesecake bars, OMG, they look so amazing and I want an entire pan of them right now!

  65. Sounds like the perfect evening, you are one lucky lady!
    The Nutella cheesecake swirl bars look perfect too, wow, yum.

  66. What a fun night! And these bars? Omg, I die.

  67. Lynna says:

    I know cheesecake bars alone are awesome. Adding some nutella swirl action…gah. *Drools*

  68. damn im craving one of these bars right now. you can never go wrong with nutella.. they look so chocolately and delicious.

  69. I was originally only wanting the cheesecake bars recipe and somehow became engrossed in reading the whole post. Sounds like a fab experience.

  70. What a fun event! And these brownies look HEAVENLY!!

  71. Courtney says:

    Swoon! I’m so jealous you got to meet him. Oh, Bryan Voltaggio is opening a restaurant in Richmond next year, so I guess that means you’ll have to come visit and go eat there with me. Deal?

  72. mel says:

    Made ur cheesecake! YUM!!!!! Everyone loved it! Thanks!!!

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