Saturday, January 3, 2015

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Crumble Bars

Kind of similar to yesterday's post, these bars are a conglomeration of all things wonderful.  Caramel, apple, cheesecake, crumble!?  What's not to like?!

These are the second of three desserts I brought to the Ajemian Thanksgiving.  I was thinking that they would be perfect for a big group, because there are so many components, everyone was bound to like some part!  There is - I know, for basically the third straight day - a shortbread crust (I guess I really got into shortbread crusts in November), followed by a layer of cheesecake.  As if that isn't great enough, then there are cinnamon and sugar apples, and a buttery crumble topping finishes it off.  Lastly, there is supposed to be a drizzle of caramel sauce on top (please see the other day's post on my hatred of caramel drizzle - I skipped it, obviously). Yeah, I know.  These are legit.

They were a bit time consuming with all those layers, but none of them were difficult.  If you are looking for a delicious and rather exciting dessert, this is probably the one.  Kenzie was my taste tester and voted this dessert the best of my three Thanksgiving sweets.  It's basically all the good flavors from apple pie, cheesecake, and apple crisp together.  What more could you ask for?


caramel apple cheesecake crumble bars
from Averie Cooks
yield 9 - 12 squares

for crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
for cheesecake:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (lite is okay)
1 large egg
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
for apples:
about 2 cups diced apples (from about 2 medium applied, peeled and cored)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
for crumble:
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned whole rolled oats (not quick-cook or instant)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 of a stick), softened
1/2 cup thick caramel sauce for drizzling


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil, leaving overhang, and spray with cooking spray.  Set aside.

2) Make crust: in a large bowl, add the flour and brown sugar, and cu tin the butter with two forks.  Keep working until mixture is combined and pea-sized crumbly bits are present.

3) Turn mixture out into prepared pan, hard-packing it with your fingertips in an even, smooth layer to form a crust.  Bake for 14 - 15 minutes, or until just set.  Remove from oven and set aside.  While crust bakes, prepare the remaining layers.

4) Make cheesecake: in a large bowl (same one used for crust is okay, just wipe with a paper towel) or bowl of a stand mixer, add all ingredients and beat vigorously until smooth and combined, about 2 minutes on high power.  Set aside.

5) Make apples: peel, core and dice apples and place in medium bowl.  Sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and toss well to combine.  Set aside.

6) Make crumble: in a medium bowl, add the flour, brown sugar, and oats; cut in the butter with 2 forks.  Keep working until mixture is combined and pea-sized crumbly bits are present.  If necessary, add an extra tablespoon or two of flour or oats for preferred consistency is mixture is loose.

7) After removing pan with the crust layer from the oven, pour cheesecake mixture over the crust, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.

8) Lightly and evenly sprinkle the apples.  Evenly sprinkle with the crumble mixture.  It looks like a lot, but it sinks some while baking.

9) Bake 45 - 50 minutes, or until crumb topping is just set and very lightly golden browned.  Place pan on a wire rack to cool for about 30 minutes.

10) After 30 minutes, evenly drizzle with caramel sauce.  Allow bars to cool, in pan, on wire rack for at least 4 hours of overnight.  Cover with foil if cooling overnight.  Don't slice bars too early or they will likely fall apart.  Prior to slicing, lift bars out using foil overhang, then slice and serve.  Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for 6 months.

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