CARAMEL APPLE CHEESECAKE BARS
Caramel + cheesecake + brown sugar oat streusel + apple = the best Fall dessert!
I have already stocked my pumpkin supply. I bought the bulk pack of Pumpkin at Costco the other day…… four of them, haha 🙂 I am now the proud owner of 12 cans of pumpkin. The BIG cans!
The ingredient list may look long but they actually come together fairly quickly and use staple pantry ingredients. The hardest, most time-consuming part of this recipe is the chopping and peeling of apples, and the cooling and refrigeration time needed for the cheesecake bars.
These are definitely NOT a dessert that you can make right before you need it. Be sure and plan ahead and read the recipe and instructions ahead of time.
The crust is a brown sugar shortbread crust that is just flour, brown sugar, and butter. It is a dry mix, which is totally fine, because once you press it into the baking dish it sticks together and forms into the crust.
The next layer is a creamy apple cheesecake with cinnamon and nutmeg spices. Be sure and cut those apples small so that they will soften and bake in the cook time. I aim to cut the apples the size of frozen peas or corn. You want them small.
The last (and best!) layer is the oat streusel topping and that caramel drizzle. You are welcome to make your own caramel syrup but I made things easy by using the store-bough caramel syrup. You know the kind that you use for ice cream. I got the squeeze bottle one. Super easy!
The bars have to cool for 1 hour on the counter top and then they have to refrigerate for 3 hours before serving. 4 hours plus the time it takes to make and bake these. Again, be sure you plan ahead.
The payoff is so worth it. Creamy apple cheesecake, shortbread crust, and the oat streusel with caramel drizzle. Amazing! I kept taking small bites of these every time I went to the fridge to get something…… I clearly had no self control around them 🙂
How to make caramel apple cheesecake bars
- Combine flour, brown sugar, and cold cubed butter and mix until crumbly. I think it’s easiest to use your hands/fingers. Or you can use a pastry cutter too. Press into the greased baking dish and bake.
- Prepare the cheesecake filling. Blend together cream cheese, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Pour over the cooked crust. You do not have to let the crust cool before this.
- Stir together the small chopped apples with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Layer those over the cheesecake.
- Make the streusel by combining all the ingredients and use your hands or a pastry cutter to mix until crumbly like wet sand. Sprinkle over the cheesecake and apples. Bake.
- Drizzle the caramel sauce over top and let the bars cool for 1 hour on the counter. Then cover them and put them in the fridge for 3 hours before cutting and serving. Store leftovers in the fridge.
Tips for making caramel apple cheesecake bars
- I only ever use regular, whole-fat cream cheese when I make cheesecake. I am sure you could use the 1/3 less fat cream cheese if that’s what you want. I also think the name brand Philadelphia is THE BEST to use for cheesecakes. I swear by it.
- Be sure and cut the apples really small. Otherwise you will end up with crunchy apples. Unless you want that of course, then leave them larger. I aim to cut the apples about the size of black beans, frozen corn, etc. You get the idea. Just make sure they are small.
- The crust mixture will seem dry but as you work it and press it into the pan it will hold together. Use your hands or a pastry cutter to mix it. You can also use the bottom of a measuring up to press it evenly into the pan.
- These bars have to cool for 1 hour PLUS refrigerate for 3 hours before serving. Plan ahead.
Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) cold butter, cubed
- 2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 3 granny smith apples, peeled and chopped small
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
- 5 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
- Caramel syrup drizzle (about 1/3 cup)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray. You can also use parchment paper and spray the parchment paper. Set aside.
- Make the crust: In a small bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, and cold cubed butter. Use a pastry cutter or hands to mix until crumbly. Press into the baking pan. Bake 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned.
- While the crust is baking prepare the cheesecake. Combine all the cheesecake ingredients (cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and eggs) into a bowl, or bowl of a stand mixer, and beat together until smooth and combined.
- In a small bowl, combine the peeled and chopped apples with the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix together until the apples are coated.
- Pour the cheesecake mixture over the cooked crust and spread out evenly. Sprinkle the apples over the cheesecake.
- Prepare the streusel topping by combining all the ingredients (NOT the caramel sauce). Use your hands or a pastry cutter to combine until crumbly like wet sand. Sprinkle it evenly over the apples.
- Cook for 25-30 minutes. The edges should be done and slightly pulled away from the edges of the pan. The middle should be soft set but not totally liquid/jiggly.
- Remove from oven and put on a cooling rack. Drizzle the caramel sauce over the bars and let cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Cover the dish and put in the refrigerator for 3 hours. Cut into bars and serve. Store leftovers in the fridge.
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