These bars have so many great tastes all in one treat. Cheesecake, apples, streusel topping, caramel. Needless to say, this combination of flavors is why I chose it as my first apple baking attempt of the season.
Don't be intimidated by the list of ingredients. Most of them are spices that you probably already have and the list repeats sugar and butter for all of the layers. I used Splenda for both types of sugar and 1/3 fat cream cheese. Next time, I'll try fat free cream cheese (it was plenty sweet so I'm sure cutting down on the calories a little more wouldn't hurt). I also want to start experimenting with using applesauce instead of butter. Or something instead of butter. You don't realize how much butter is in baked goods until you actually unwrap stick after stick and put it in a pan. So I'll be trying some butter substitutions in the near future. Wish me luck.
Be sure to let these chill in the fridge for a couple hours before you cut them. I didn't because they came out of the oven just as Tom was leaving and I wanted to send him home with some. He said they were great but I basically felt like I was a lunch lady, slopping cafeteria lunch food into plastic wrap for him to take home. Tasted great, looked like garbage. Once I let them cool and cut them, they were much easier to work with and the layers looked more distinct.
You can eat them cold or pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds and serve them with a little bit of ice cream. I'm not really a vanilla fan (booooooring) so I've been going with maple walnut (a flavor of ice cream I have recently discovered that I like) and pumpkin pie ice cream (need I say more?).
Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
· Cheesecake Filling:
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
· Streusel topping,
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup caramel topping
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or 2 forks) until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into a 9x13 baking pan lined with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
3. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 3/4 cup sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Then add eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour over warm crust.
4. In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture.
5. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for streusel topping. I like to really combine it by using my clean hands to thoroughly combine the butter into the mixture.
6. Sprinkle evenly with Streusel topping. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until filling is set. Drizzle with caramel topping and let cool. Serve cold and enjoy!