May 4, 2012

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars Recipe

These caramel apple cheesecake bars made their way around the food blogging sphere not to long ago and they certainly caught my attention! Even just by reading the title, they sound amazing but that is just the start! If you dig a little deeper you will see that they start with a base of butter shortbread which is topped with the cheesecake followed by the apples and then a layer of rolled oat crumbs only finally be topped with the caramel sauce. These bars are like combining shortbread, cheesecake, apple crisp and caramel sauce all into one truly spectacular treat!

Given all of the components, these bars require a bit of effort to make but overall everything is pretty straight forward and it so worth it! You do have to pull the cream cheese and butter out of the fridge ahead of time to come to room temperature so keep that in mind when making these bars.

This recipe calls for lining the baking dish with aluminum foil which I had never done before and it turned out great! After chilling the bars in the fridge over night I gently pulled on each end of the aluminum foil and the whole sheet of came right up and out, nice and cleanly! No more destroying half of the bars trying to dig them out of the pan! I will definitely have to remember this trick!

When I got up this morning my patience had run its course and I could not resist pulling the caramel apple cheesecake bars out after a night of chilling. (I hope it's not wrong to have cheesecake bars for breakfast!) My expectations for these bars were certainly high and they exceeded them beyond my wildest dreams! This is just one of those things where the combination is far superior to the sum of the parts! All of the flavours and textures work so well together with the tart apples balancing out the sweetness of the other components. The crispy short bread crust contrasted the soft cheesecake and tender apples and the crumb topping added another dimension of texture. The caramel sauce was of course the star of the show and the coarse sea salt in it was particularly nice. These are going to disappear quickly!

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

These bars start out with a crispy and buttery shortbread base which is topped with a creamy cheesecake, tart granny smith and a rolled oat crumble before being finished off with a drizzle of salted caramel sauce!

Servings: makes 9+ bars

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes


    For the crust:
    1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
    1 cup flour
    1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    For the cheesecake:
    1/4 cup sugar
    8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
    1 large egg
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    For the apples:
    2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into bite sized pieces
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
    For the streusel topping:
    6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
    1/2 cup flour
    1/2 cup old fashioned oats
    1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    For the caramel sauce:
    1 cup sugar
    1/4 cup water
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 teaspoon coarse salt


    For the crust:
    Cut the butter into the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon until combined and crumbly.
    Press the mixture into the bottom of an 8x8 inch baking dish lined with foil.
    Bake in a preheated 350F oven until lightly golden brown, about 8-12 minutes, set aside and let cool.
    For the cheesecake:
    Beat the sugar into the cream cheese until smooth.
    Beat in the egg followed by the vanilla extract.
    Pour the mixture into the baking dish.
    For the apples:
    Mix the apples, cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg.
    Sprinkle the apples on top of the cream cheese layer.
    For the streusel topping:
    Cut the butter into the flour, sugar, cinnamon and rolled oats until combined and crumbly.
    Sprinkle the crumbs on top of the apples.
    Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the cheesecake has set, about 25-35 minutes, and let cool.
    For the caramel sauce:
    Heat the sugar and water in a sauce pan over medium heat and simmer it until it turns a medium amber colour.
    Remove from heat and carefully pour in the heavy cream.
    Return to heat and cook until smooth, stirring with a wooden spoon.
    Stir in the butter.
    Allow the sauce to cool for a few minutes and stir in the vanilla extract and salt.
    Let cool and serve over the apple cheesecake bars.