Sunday, October 14, 2012

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Streusel Topping

The name itself got me with this one. It's so long! How could it be bad? But I definitely thought it would be more complicated. I did the whole recipe, including cooking time, in just under an hour. Also, I liked that the ingredients were fairly simple and most people would probably have most or all of them. Understand that this was originally a Paula Deen recipe, there is no shortage on calories!

Since its baking I didn't change anything. If I made these again, which I probably will, I think I would add more apples. Just one more, as the apple flavour was really lost in mine, even though I used the stronger granny smith apples as directed. I don't usually use Granny Smith, since I don't really like them as much as other types of apples. I also found there was a bit too many oats and streusel topping generally. That may have been why the apples weren't the star at all. I also thought about making these with strawberries instead and maybe a thinned whipped cream drizzled on them instead of the caramel sauce.

I just bought my caramel sauce and drizzled on top before serving since I was trying to keep the recipe quick and easy. But making a caramel sauce while the bars are cooking or cooling wouldn't be too big of a deal. They did need about an hour to cool.

Here's the picture and recipe!

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Streusel Topping
(Adapted slightly from Tracey's Culinary Adventures)

Streusel Topping
 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

 1 cup all-purpose flour
 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
 pinch salt
 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature (low fat is fine)
 1/4 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
 1 large egg
 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
 pinch salt
 2 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on opposite sides to lift the bars out afterward. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

To make the streusel: In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Use a fork (or a pastry cutter) to combine until the mixture becomes crumbly. Refrigerate while you finish making the bars.

To make the crust: Stir the flour, brown sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the butter, and use a pastry cutter to work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Press into an even layer in the bottom of the prepared pan (if the mixture is sticky, pop it in the fridge for a few minutes - it's easier to press into the pan when cold). Bake for 15 minutes, or until light brown and set. Remove the pan to a wire rack.

To make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese with 1/4 cup of the sugar until well combined and smooth. Add the egg, vanilla and salt, and beat just until the mixture is uniform. Pour over the crust (it's fine if the crust is warm, no need to cool it completely).

Combine the apples with the remaining tablespoon of sugar, the cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Stir until evenly coated. Distribute the apples evenly over the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the apples.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the filling is set. Remove the pan to a wire rack and let the bars cool completely, then refrigerate for at least a few hours. Use the foil handles to lift the bars out.

I drizzled the Caramel Sauce (store bought) over them after cutting for a decorative effect!

Makes about 16 bars (depending on how large you cut them)

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