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Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars boasting 7 layers of candy apple deliciousness! These Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars will make you the HERO of the holidays! They are the best apple bars/pie/cheesecake anything - ever! They are like caramel apple cheesecake bars on steroids (but legal of course) - bigger, better and more intoxicatingly delicious! And how could they not be with 7 layers of heaven? I've included how to make these Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars ahead of time, how to prep ahead and how to freeze - now there's no reason not o make these bars this season!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 32 bars

Ingredients

Butterscotch Crust

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 3.4 oz. pkg. instant butterscotch pudding mix
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/3 cup toffee bits (Heath Bits O' Brickle Toffee Bits)

Apples

  • 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced very thin
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Cheesecake

  • 2 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Streusel

  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1/2 cup toffee bits (Heath Bits O' Brickle Toffee Bits)

Instructions

  • Caramel: Prepare Easy Creamy Caramel Sauce according to directions, boiling for the full 5 minutes. Set aside.
  • Crust: Line a 9x13 baking pan with parchment paper all the way up the sides and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, mix together crust ingredients (flour through cinnamon). Press into the prepared pan and bake 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned then cool crust (you can place in the refrigerator).
  • Apples: While the crust is baking and cooling, add all of the Apple Layer ingredients to a large bowl and toss to evenly combine. Set aside.
  • Toffee and Pecans: Top cooled crust with 1 cup prepared caramel sauce then sprinkle with 1/3 cup toffee bits and 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Refrigerate remaining caramel. Evenly layer apple slices over caramel/toffee/pecan layer.
  • Cheesecake: Beat cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar on medium speed for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in egg until incorporated, then add sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla and mix until well incorporated. Pour over apple layer and spread evenly.
  • Streusel: Add pecans to food processor and pulse a couple times to chop. Add remaining streusel ingredients except toffee bits and pulse until it resembles coarse pebbles. Stir in toffee bits. Sprinkle over cheesecake layer. (If you don't have a food processor: mix together flour, brown sugar and oats. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in chopped pecans and toffee bits.)
  • Bake at 350F degrees for 25-30 minutes or until filling is set. Let bars cool in pan on a wire rack for 1 hour then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  • Optional: Caramel can be drizzled on bars before they are placed in the refrigerator OR can be heated in the microwave and drizzled over before serving.* To cut, easily remove the cheesecake bars from the pan by lifting out the parchment paper.

Notes

*You might want to steal a bite first to decide how much caramel/extra sweetness to drizzle, if at all.

STORAGE

These Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars should be tightly covered and stored in the refrigerator.  They are good for about 3-5 days, but the best texture after 24 hours.

MAKE AHEAD

You can completely assemble, bake and chill the Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars 24 hours in advance, or prep different elements of the recipe ahead of time, here's how:
  • Crust: bake, cool then cover with foil 24 hours ahead of filling
  • Caramel Sauce: can be made up to three weeks ahead of time, cooled and stored in an airtight container. To reheat, microwave Caramel Sauce for 30-60 seconds, stirring at 30 second intervals, repeat as needed. You may need to stir in additional evaporated milk as the caramel will thicken upon refrigeration.
  • Pecans: you can chop the 1/2 cup pecans needed in Layer 3 and store in an airtight container.
  • Apples: you can peel and slice the apples 24 hours ahead of time and use one of the techniques outlined in this recipe to prevent them from browning.
  • Cheesecake: can be made 24 hours ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Streusel: can be completely chopped 24 hours ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

CAN I FREEZE CARAMEL APPLE CHEESECAKE BARS?

Yes!  The apples and streusel will soften slightly but still be delicious.
To freeze whole pan of Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars:
  • Cool cheesecake bars completely and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
  • Wrap pan twice tightly in plastic wrap followed by heavy duty aluminum foil.
  • Freeze for 2-3 months.
  • To thaw, remove Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars from freezer to the refrigerator.  Let thaw overnight.
To freeze individual Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars:
  • Line cut bars on a parchment/nonstick mat lined baking sheet without touching.
  • Place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze until solid (about 1 hour); this prevents the bars from freezing together later when stored.  Alternatively, you can skip this step and freeze bars individually in their own plastic bag.
  • Transfer bars to a freezer safe airtight container, and place parchment paper in between each row.
  • Freeze for 2-3 months.
  • When ready to eat, defrost individual Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars in the microwave at 20 second intervals or place in the refrigerator to defrost overnight.