Monday, November 24, 2014

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

If you need a dessert for pretty much anything, then look no further. Apple streusel + cheesecake + homemade caramel = the best dessert. Ever. 

I'm not lying. My husband took these bars to the Thanksgiving potluck at his work. The entire plate was gone in no time, and lots of people asked for the recipe. Always a good sign! 

When he first asked me to make something for the potluck, I immediately went into stress mode. Don't get me wrong, I love to bake and get excited about the opportunity to bake (and know that it isn't going to sit in my kitchen and tempt me to eat all 5000 calories), but I hate narrowing down all the options. There are SO many awesome desserts out there. How do you choose?! 

I have to thank The Girl Who Ate Everything for discovering this recipe. It is the number one recipe on her site (which I love), so I knew it had to be good. Oh my goodness, this recipe did not disappoint. Seriously, stop your search for the perfect dessert and make these bars. 

I can't wait to convert these to gluten-free. Maybe with a graham cracker crust? Oooh, I know what I am making for Thanksgiving. Stay tuned for the gf recipe... 

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
Serving size: 9x13

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, cubed and at room temperature

Cheesecake layer:
3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Apple layer:
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Streusel layer:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, cubed and at room temperature

Caramel topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1/8 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly spray a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper, leaving a 1 inch overhang on the sides. 

To prepare the crust, in a medium bowl, mix the flour and brown sugar together. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or 2 forks until crumbly. Press into the bottom of the baking pan. Bake 13-15 minutes, until lightly browned.

To prepare the cheesecake layer, in a large bowl, add the cream cheese and sugar. Mix on medium speed using a hand blender until smooth. Mix in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla until smooth. Pour on top of the warm crust and smooth into an even layer.

To prepare the apple layer, in a medium bowl, mix the apples, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together. Spoon over the top of the cheesecake in an even layer.

To prepare the streusel layer, in a medium bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, and oats together. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or 2 forks until crumbly. Sprinkle over the top of the apples. 

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until set (the center should not jiggle). Let cool at room temperature for 1 hour, then cover and place in the refrigerator. Once chilled, use the parchment overhangs to lift the cheesecake from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into bars.

To prepare the caramel topping, in a medium saucepan, briefly stir the sugar and water together. Bring to a boil over medium heat without stirring. Continue boiling until the caramel reaches a deep amber color. Immediately remove from heat. (Do not overcook or the caramel will taste bitter.) Slowly pour in the heavy cream, vanilla, and salt (if using) while gently stirring. (The caramel will bubble violently.) Let cool to room temperature.

Drizzle the caramel over the bars before serving. 

Source: adapted from the Girl Who Ate Everything, originally from Paula Deen

1 comment:

  1. Mouthwatering! just mouthwatering. Cake always a first choice for my weekend.