I’m still looking for an apartment in LA, so in the meantime, I’ve been staying a couple of nights a week at my good friends’ apartment. Since they won’t accept any money for letting me stay, I bake for them every week, as this is something they gladly accept. I baked for them (here and here).
I usually decide which dessert to make, but this week they had plenty of suggestions—cheesecake bites being the top choice. Their flavor recommendations ranged from caramel pecan to Oreo cookie to raspberry. I hunted for recipes online and went with my friend Heidi’s choice of caramel pecan cheesecake bites.
I altered the recipe a bit—making homemade caramel sauce instead of using caramel squares, and increasing the amount of graham cracker crust to make the bottom layer more proportionate to the top cheesecake layer.
The cheesecake bites were rich and delectable, with a mildly crunchy graham cracker and pecan crust and a silky and creamy cheesecake topping. Although I did not have time to make extra caramel sauce to drizzle on top of the bites (suggested in the recipe), the dessert bars were plenty sweet enough without the addition.
- Caramel recipe (makes 1 cup):
- ½ cup heavy cream, or half & half
- 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. water
- Cheesecake bar recipe:
- 2 cups Honey Maid Graham Crackers, honey
- 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, divided
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- 4 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. flour
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 tbsp. vanilla
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup homemade caramel sauce, recipe follows
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 13" x 9" baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan.
- For the caramel: In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine ½ cup cream, butter, sugar and water. Stir over medium heat until the mixture is smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 240 degrees F, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Remove caramel from saucepan and immediately transfer to glass bowl, to prevent caramel from hardening. Let cool for about five minutes, then add to cream cheese mixture and blend.
- For the cheesecake bars: Blend graham cracker crumbs in food processor until measure two cups. Mix graham cracker crumbs, ½ cup chopped pecans, sugar and butter. Press mixture firmly onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes.
- Beat cream cheese, brown sugar and flour in large bowl with electric mixer until will blended. Add sour cream and vanilla; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended. Pour lukewarm homemade caramel sauce into bowl with cream cheese mixture. Start blending immediately, to prevent caramel from clumping and hardening. Stir until well blended. Pour mixture over crust.
- Bake about 40 minutes, until center is almost set. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup chopped pecans. Cool cheesecake bars in fridge for at least four hours.
- If desired, make more homemade caramel sauce to drizzle over the top of the bites.