Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars are the perfect fall treat!
These dessert bars have a shortbread cookie bottom, then a layer of sweet cheesecake topped with cinnamon apples and a sweet brown sugar crumble. The cheesecake bars are finished off with a salted caramel drizzle.
It’s a cheesecake-apple crisp mash up and it is the most divine caramel apple treat!
These cheesecake bars for fall take a little time to make but they are worth it! They are alway a hit with everyone! They are rich, sweet and scream fall!
NOTE: These bars take at least an hour to make with all of the different layers and baking times for the layers. The Cheesecake bars then need to chill in the fridge for at least 3 to 4 hours before serving – so plan ahead! They can be made a day in advance and are still delicious a day later!
The Baking Dish/Pan
You will need a 9×13 baking dish for these caramel apple dessert bars. I like to line my baking dish with parchment paper. Make sure the parchment paper lines the bottom of the pan and hangs over the edges so you can lift it out! (See photos below). This makes serving the cheesecake bars easy! Just lift them out of them pan and cut them into squares when you are ready to serve them! You can also just grease your baking dish.
I have found making the layers in a certain order makes it easier to have everything ready when it is time to put the bars together. I make the cinnamon apples first, then the brown sugar crumble and set both aside. I then make the shortbread cookie bottom and while it bake I make the cheesecake filling. Then it is easy to put the bars together and bake them the final time. This is just what works for me – you can do it in any order!
A caramel apple dessert needs apples. Granny Smith apples are the best apples to use. They bake perfectly and give the dessert a bit of tart bite.
First, mix your spices to make the cinnamon sprinkle for your apples. The cinnamon sprinkle is a blend of white sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Peel, core and chop your apples into bite sized small pieces.
Put your chopped apples in a bowl and then add your lemon juice to them.
Sprinkle your spice mix blend on them. Mix it up so your apples are coated with the lemon juice and spices. Set aside.
Brown Sugar Crumble Topping
To make the brown sugar crumble you need a mixing bowl. Add in your oatmeal, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Mix the dry ingredients together. Then add your butter. Keep mixing…it will seem like the ingredients are too dry and won’t come together but they will. Set this aside.
NOTE: I use quick cooking oats for this recipe.
The Shortbread Cookie Bottom
Time to make the shortbread cookie bottom. Mix the ingredients in a stand mixer and then press it into a 9×13 baking dish!
Bake it until it is a light golden brown – about 15- 20 minutes. (Make the cheesecake filling while this bakes).
To make the cheesecake filling you will need cream cheese, white sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. I make this while the shortbread cookie bottom bakes.
In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, mix your cream cheese and sugar together until creamy.
Add your egg and vanilla and mix until smooth.
NOTE: I use clear Mexican vanilla. You can get this on Amazon. It is a bit pricey but it has amazing flavor and the clear color (or lack of color) is perfect for light colored recipes like this cheesecake.
Making/Baking the Cheesecake Bars
After your shortbread cookie layer has baked, pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the warm shortbread cookie bottom.
Using your hands add the cinnamon apples on top of the cheesecake layer. DO NOT POUR THEM ON TOP OF THE CHESECAKE – USE YOUR HANDS – THE EXTRA LIQUID WILL SPILL ON THE CHEESECAKE AND MAKE IT RUNNY IF YOU POUR THE APPLES ON TOP. Use your hands to make sure you aren’t scooping up or spilling out the extra lemon juice.
Then sprinkle the brown sugar crumble on top of the apples, covering it evenly. Then in to the oven it goes one last time to cook/set the cheesecake layer and lightly toast the brown sugar crumble topping.
After it has baked and the topping is golden brown, let the bars cool a bit, then into the fridge they go to chill.
After they have chilled, drizzle with the salted caramel topping.
Serving the Cheesecake Bars
To serve the caramel apple bars, just lift the bars out of the pan with the parchment paper.
Cut the dessert into bars and enjoy! Keep any leftovers in your fridge. They will last a good 3-4 days but the shortbread bottom will start to soften (but they are still delicious). I love to have my cheesecake bars sit out to almost room temperature before I eat them!
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Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
Shortbread Cookie Bottom
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 tsp salt *do not add if using salted butter
- 1 cup butter, unsalted, softened to room temperature *if using salted butter do not add salt
- 2 blocks (8 oz. each) cream cheese *do not use fat free or low fat
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 to 4 cups Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced small *about 5-6 apples – add more or less to your liking
- 2 1/2 tbsp white sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
Brown Sugar Crumble
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup dry oatmeal *I prefer quick oats
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup butter, unsalted, softened to room temperature *salted works fine too
- 1 jar (around 11 oz.) caramel sauce *I prefer a salted caramel sauce, any brand works
Cinnamon Apples (make this first so they are ready when you need them)
- Mix together the sugar and spices for the cinnamon apples. Peel, core and dice your apples into small pieces. In a medium sized bowl, add your diced apples and lemon juice. Add your spice mix and stir the apples making sure the lemon juice and spices cover them evenly. Set aside.
Brown Sugar Crumble (make this 2nd)
- Add the dry ingredients to a bowl (everything but the butter), and mix them together. Add in the softened butter and mix well. The crumble is not super wet…it is a dry crumble (you can see the photos in the blog post above). Set aside.
Making the Shortbread Cookie (make this third)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper leaving some extra hanging over the pan (see blog post above) or grease a 9×13 baking dish.
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix all of the shortbread ingredients together. It will seem dry at first but keep mixing it and it will form a dough. Press it into the 9×13 pan and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until it is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when poked in the center. Take it out of the oven when it is done.*A hand mixer will work or mix it by hand.
Cheesecake Layer (make this last while the shortbread bakes)
- In a stand mixer using the whisk attachment (hand mixer or by hand work too), add your cream cheese and sugar and cream them together on medium speed. Add in your vanilla and eggs. Mix well until the mixture is creamy and smooth.
Finishing the Cheesecake Bars
- Pour the cheesecake filling onto the warm just baked shortbread layer. Drop the cinnamon apples on top of the cheesecake filing. ***DO NOT POUR THE APPLES ON THE CHEESCAKE…there will be extra lemon juice in the bottom of the bowl of apples and you do not want this to be poured on the cheesecake layer. So scoop the apples by hand and spread them on the cheesecake layer by hand. Finally, spread the brown sugar crumble layer on top of the apples. Place in the oven, uncovered (keep the temperature at 350°F). Bake the cheesecake bars for 30-35 minutes or until the cheesecake layer is set and the crumble topping is toasted. You can check that the cheesecake is set by gently poking a fork in the center. It should be soft but not runny. After the cheesecake layer is set, take them out of the oven and let them cool.Place the bars in the fridge to chill for 3 to 4 hours.After the bars have chilled, before serving, drizzle your caramel sauce over the bars!Cut and serve!!!Recipe adapted from Dessert Now Dinner Later!
Nutrition information is automatically calculated and should only be used as an approximation.