These triple-layered orange bars remind us of the iconic frozen Popsicle delicacy that inspired them. But we won’t dwell on it too long because these bars are irresistibly delicious, like the inspiration. They’re creamy and lovely, with a zesty orange and vanilla bean taste with a graham cracker shell.
Even though they appear to have been assembled by a pastry master, they are simple to create! Our success is due to store-bought components such as graham crackers, orange Jell-O, vanilla pudding, and Cool Whip.
Begin with a traditional graham crust made with butter, sugar, graham cracker crumbs, and a pinch of salt. Then top with a vanilla cream cheese layer made with whipped sweetened cream cheese and a touch of Cool Whip to lighten it to a thick pudding consistency. This layer sets quickly, allowing you to move on to the orange layer, made with orange Jell-O, boiling water, and a more cool whip. Want to know how much Cool Whip to buy? You’ll need two tubs of Cool Whip topping to make this dish.
Refrigerate the bars until completely cooled to firm the orange layer, then finish with a big dollop of Cool Whip before serving. Don’t be afraid to cut right in with a sharp knife just wash the knife clean between cuts to keep the layers orderly. Some whipped topping will likely adhere to the knife, ruining the next slice.
- Spray cooking oil
- 10 graham crackers, finely crushed (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 oz. room temperature cream cheese
- half a cup of powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups of Cool Whip
ORANGE LAYER & ASSEMBLY
- 1 c. boiling water
- 6 oz. Jell-O orange flavor gelatin
- 3 1/2 c. Cool Whip, divided
Cooking sprays an 8″ by 8″ baking pan and lines the bottom with paper, leaving a 2″ overhang on two opposite edges. Spray the parchment paper lightly with cooking spray.
Mix crackers, granulated sugar, butter, and salt in a medium mixing basin until the mixture resembles wet sand and holds together when pushed.
Scrape the cracker mixture onto the prepared pan and press with the back of a spoon or measuring cup to form an equal layer.
LAYER OF VANILLA
In a medium mixing basin, using a handheld mixer (or the big bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment), beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla for 3 minutes on medium-high speed.
Mix 1 cup Cool Whip into the cream cheese mixture with a spatula to lighten the texture. Next, mix in the remaining 1 cup of Cool Whip.
Evenly distribute the vanilla layer over the prepared crust. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
ASSEMBLY & ORANGE LAYER
Pour boiling water over gelatin in a medium heatproof bowl and whisk until gelatin is dissolved. Refrigerate the bowl for 10 minutes or until the mixture has reached room temperature.
2 cups Cool Whip, whisked in until blended. Spread the orange layer on top of the vanilla layer. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, up to 3 days, or until the orange coating is firm.
Spread the remaining 1 1/2 cups evenly. Cool whip in a uniform layer on top of the orange layer.
Run a little offset spatula or thin knife around the pan’s edges. Lift the bar out of the pan using the parchment overhang and place it on a cutting board. Cut into squares.
Learn more: Butter vs. Margarine: How to Choose