Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

These caramel apple cheesecake bars are perfect for the Fall. I have been waiting to make these for Thanksgiving and they turned out really yummy! It's not rich at all like it sounds. You really taste the apple and there's not a lot of cheesecake to it. It's more like a tasty bar with tons of delicious crumble topping. But the best part of this dessert is the homemade caramel sauce I drizzled over the crumble topping. So good!!

Now I know what you're thinking when you hear "homemade caramel" - too difficult. I understand. Making your own caramel is intimidating. Matt and I have burnt a couple before. You'll probably burn your first-ever caramel too, but just get over it and try again. And once you get used to it, you'll be rewarded with a delicious caramel that will knock those store-bought ones out of the ballpark.

I was even nervous about making my own caramel sauce for this dessert (since I was taking it to our family), that I even bought some caramel candy as backup. But I was able to nail down on the secret of perfect caramel-making. It's the timing. If you follow my instructions precisely below, you will nail it too. And man was it worth it.

Ingredients:Adapted from My Fiance Likes It

Crust:1 cup flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, slightly chilled and cubed


16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar, plus 2 teaspoons
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon cinnamon


1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, slightly chilled and cubed
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F.

To make the crust, combine flour and brown sugar in a medium bowl.  Cut the butter into the mixture with your fingers or a fork until the mixture is crumbly.

Press the dough into a 9x13 inch pan in an even and flat layer.  Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Set aside.

Make the filling by beating cream cheese and 1/2 cup of sugar in a large bowl.  Add eggs, one at a time, until just incorporated.  Stir in vanilla until just combined.

In a small bowl, combine the apples with the cinnamon and 2 teaspoons of sugar.  Let sit for about 1-2 minutes, then gently fold into cream cheese mixture.

Pour the batter over top of the warm crust.

Make the topping by combining the oats, flour, and brown sugar.  Cut the butter into the mixture until it is chunky and crumbly.

Top the cream cheese mixture with an even layer of the topping.  There's a lot of it. Don't be afraid, you'll want it all on there, trust me.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until cream cheese mixture is set and topping is a nice golden brown.

Make your caramel sauce by simmering the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, swirling the pan but not stirring, until dark amber, exactly 12 mins. Take off the heat, and then whisk in the cream and vanilla. (It will bubble and sputter when you add the cream. Don't worry just whisk.) Let it cool. (The caramel sauce will look like the consistency of hot chocolate at first, but as you set it aside to cool it will thicken, darken in color, and become more like the caramel sauce pictured above.)

Drizzle caramel sauce over cheesecake and enjoy!

I wish I could take better food pictures, but I probably need to stop using my phone then and invest in a good camera. Oh well, as long as I deliver food that is tasty, right? :)

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