July 30th is National Cheesecake Day!
Cheesecake is a dessert consisting of a topping made of soft, fresh cheese, usually on a crust or base made from biscuit (such as a graham cracker crust), pastry or sponge cake. It may be baked or unbaked. In the United States, July 30 has been unofficially declared “National Cheesecake Day”. (Source)
I am a big fan of the combination of caramel and apples. I don’t do so well with the caramel apples you get at a fair, as they are too hard on my teeth, but the flavor combination is yummy!
I sometimes struggle with making cheesecakes that do not crack- sometimes they work, other times they don’t! However, I like to make cheesecake bites or cheesecake bars (no cracking!), so for National Cheesecake Day, I decided to make cheesecake bars using caramel and apples. I prefer to use Golden Delicious or Granny Smith apples, but you can use whatever apple you like (pears would be good too!). I also made my own caramel sauce, but you could easily use a jar of caramel ice cream topping.
2 cups flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed, divided
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 8oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup caramel sauce, divided
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and finely diced (I used Golden Delicious)
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature
To make the caramel sauce:
In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together the sugar, water, and corn syrup. Place over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil, and without stirring, boil it until it is a light amber color. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour in the heavy cream. Note: the cream may bubble up, so be very careful. Return the pan to low heat and stir until all the caramel has dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature (or if using for ice cream, let cool until just warm enough to pour!).
To make the streusel:
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, oats, and cinnamon. Add in the butter and using a fork or pastry cutter, work in the butter until the mixture is the size of peas. Set aside.
To make the cheesecake bars:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Add in the butter and using a fork or pastry cutter, work in the butter until the mixture is the size of coarse sand. Press into the bottom of a 13×9 baking pan that has been lined with aluminum foil, and sprayed with cooking spray. Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes (the crust will not be cooked all the way).
While the crust is baking, in the same mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, 1/2 cup of the caramel sauce, and 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Mix these well, either with a spoon or with a hand mixer. Add in the eggs and mix well to combine.
Once the crust has come out of the oven, evenly spoon (or pour) on the cream cheese mixture.
In a small bowl, mix together the diced apples, remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar and the cinnamon. Mix well. Spread the apples evenly over the cheesecake layer. Top the apples with the streusel topping. Place back into the oven for 30 minutes or until the center is set. Remove from the oven and let cool for 1 hour. After 1 hour, serve with the remaining 1/2 cup caramel sauce, or place in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Enjoy!
Made with love, not calories!