Circus Animal Cookie Dream Bars with a cookie crust and sweet, colorful layers are a fun, No Bake dessert that's sure to bring out the kid in anyone!
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2 12-ouncepackages Circus Animal Cookies
1 3.4-ouncepackage Instant Vanilla Pudding
1 8-ouncecontainer Cool Whip OR 1 recipe Stabilized Whipped Creamdivided
Sweetened Cream Cheese Layer
6ouncescream cheeseroom temperature
red food coloring
½cupwhite chocolate chips
multi-colored nonpareils candy
additional crumbled cookies for decorating
Prepare an 8 X 8-inch baking pan by lining it with parchment so that the edges come up on the sides,. This will enable you to easily remove the bars from the pan to slice before serving.
Place 1 package of the Circus Animal Cookies into a food processor and pulse into finely ground crumbs.
In a medium microwavable bowl, melt butter for 20 - 30 seconds.
Pour the cookie crumbs into the butter and mix well.
Place the crumbs into the prepared baking pan and pat down firmly, spreading to all of the edges.
Put the pan into the freezer to set for a minimum of 30 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the vanilla pudding and milk.
DO NOT use the amount of milk as called for on the pudding box. We want the pudding to have a firmer consistency.
Place into refrigerator to chill.
Sweetened Cream Cheese Layer
In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until soft.
Add the confectioners’ sugar and 2-3 drops of red food coloring.
Beat until thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl.
If desired, add more red food coloring until desired hue is reached.
Fold in one cup of Cool Whip until well mixed.
Place dollops of pudding on top of the frozen cookie crust and gently spread. *See Note.
Place dollops of the cream cheese on top of the pudding and gently spread to the edges of the pan.
Evenly spread the remaining Cool Whip over the pudding.
Sprinkle the colored nonpareils over the Cool Whip.
In a small microwavable bowl, place the white chocolate chips and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Reheat for another 10 seconds, stir and reheat if needed again until completely melted and smooth, taking care not to overheat.
Add a few drops of red food coloring and mix, adding more if needed until the desired hue is reached. Place melted chocolate into a sandwich bag and cut off a small corner.
Starting at one of the pan corners, pipe the chocolate over the nonpareils to the opposite corner and repeat in opposite direction.
Sprinkle with additional nonpareils.
In a plastic bag, place 1/2 the remaining bag of cookies and crush into uneven pieces. Scatter cookie pieces over dessert.
Place pan into the refrigerator for a minimum of two hours.
A half hour before serving, place pan into freezer. This will allow it to be sliced easily.
When ready to serve, lift bars out of the pan by the parchment.
Peel the parchment away from the sides and slice with a large knife. I find it easiest to slice them when the knife has been placed under some warm running water and then dried.
If you prefer, you can switch the order of the pudding and sweetened cream cheese layer. It is challenging to spread the cream cheese over the pudding as it is a bit thicker, but with patience it can be done. I thought it would be more pleasing to the eye with the yellow in between the pinks as opposed to the two pink layers being right on top of each other.