Caramel Apple Cheesecake Crumble Bars
Check out the Related Recipes below for my apple adventures.
But there’s never been anything quite like these. Between the rich flavors of salted caramel, apples, and cinnamon to a tempting layer of cream cheese and chunky oat crumbles, they’ll be your new favorite apple bar.
The recipe begins with a brown sugar shortbread-style crust that’s tender and light. The crust is topped with a rich and creamy cheesecake layer, which is topped with cinnamon-and-sugar spiced apples.
The sweet, juicy apples are full of robust cinnamon flavor and they lend amazing chewy texture while also adding moisture. They’re a great contrast to the silky cheesecake.
Then there’s a buttery, oatmeal and brown sugar-based crumble that’s sprinkled on. I love crumble-topped anything, and while big sandy pebbles are okay, it’s hearty oats that I think make the best crumble toppings.
After baking, salted caramel is drizzled over the top. It adds so much depth of flavor and as it soaks in, it helps the bars stay beautifully soft, moist, and tender for days.
I prefer using salted caramel since the salt helps balance the overall sweetness. Try The Best and Easiest Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce, Trader Joe’s, or your favorite. Make sure it’s a thick caramel sauce and not thin, runny sundae sauce.
The recipe takes a few minutes to prep, but it’s so worth it. The steps go fast and your house will smell like a bakery while the bars bake.
Move over apple pie. I’ll take apple pie, apple crumble and cheesecake all in one. My daughter told me they’re best thing I’ve made since this. High praise coming from a mini food critic.
Caramel Apple Cheesecake Crumble Bars
Between the rich flavors of salted caramel, apples, and cinnamon to tempting layer of cream cheese and chunky oat crumbles, this will be your new favorite apple bar recipe – apple pie, apple crumble, and cheesecake all in one. The recipe begins with a brown sugar shortbread-style crust that’s tender and light. The crust is topped with a rich and creamy cheesecake layer, which is topped with cinnamon-and-sugar spiced apples. Then there’s a buttery, oatmeal and brown sugar crumble that’s sprinkled on, and after baking the bars are drizzled with salted caramel. Make sure to let the bars cool very well (overnight is best) before slicing.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (use brick-style, lite okay)
1 large egg
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
about 2 cups small dices apples (from about 2 med apples, peeled and cored; I used 1 Fuji and 1 Gala)
2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
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 1 stick), softened
1/2 cup+ (salted) caramel sauce, for drizzling (homemade salted caramel, or storebought; use a thick caramel sauce and not thin, runny ice cream sundae topping)
ice cream, optional for serving
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil leaving overhang and spray with cooking spray, or grease and flour the pan; set aside.
- Crust – In a large bowl, add the flour, brown sugar, and cut in the butter with two forks. Keep working until mixture is combined and pea-sized crumbly bits are present.
- Turn mixture out into prepared pan, hard-packing it with your fingertips in an even, smooth, flat layer to form a crust. Bake for 14-15 minutes, or just until set (set a timer). Remove from oven; set aside. While crust bakes, prepare the remaining layers.
- Cheesecake – In a large bowl (same one used for crust is okay, just wipe with a paper towel), add all ingredients and beat with a hand mixer (or whisk vigorously by hand) until smooth and combined, about 2 minutes on high power; set aside.
- Apples – Peel, core, and dice apples and place in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and toss well to combine; set aside.
- Crumble – In a medium bowl, add the flour, brown sugar, oats, and cut in the butter with two 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 if mixture is loose.
- After removing pan with the crust layer from the oven, pour cheesecake mixture over the crust, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.
- Lightly and evenly sprinkle the apples.
- Evenly sprinkle with the crumble mixture. It looks like a lot, but it sinks some while baking.
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes (I baked 48 minutes), or until crumble topping is just set and very lightly golden browned. Place pan on a wire rack to cool for about 30 minutes.
- Caramel – After 30 minutes, evenly drizzle with (salted) caramel sauce. Allow bars to cool, in pan, on wire rack for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Cover with foil if cooling overnight. Don’t slice bars too early because you’ll have a literal hot mess and bars will likely fall apart. Prior to slicing, lift bars out using foil overhang, slice, and serve. Bars will keep airtight at room temp for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Optionally serve with ice cream.
Inspired by Paula Deen
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