This past Monday, I started my new job at a public relations firm in LA. Since I’m currently living in Orange County, I have to commute every day of the week. One of my good friends, Molly, graciously invited me to stay at her apartment a couple of days during the week to break up the drive.
I gratefully accepted her offer, but told her that I had to reciprocate in some way, whether that be paying a small amount, buying her dinner or baking for her and her roommates. She wouldn’t accept my money offer, but gladly agreed to the suggestion of me baking something for the apartment.
I decided on Paula Deen’s five-star recipe for caramel apple cheesecake bars with a streusel topping. I didn’t have time to make homemade caramel sauce, but thought the bars were plenty sweet enough without the drizzle. The subtle crunchiness of the Granny Smith apples was a nice contrast to the silky cream cheese interior.
Everyone absolutely loved the bars, from my friend Molly to my mom to my boss. I will surely make these dessert bars in the future, particularly because of their versatility—eat them for breakfast, a snack or dessert.
2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar, plus 2 tbsp., divided
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely sliced
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, plus a couple dashes
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Streusel topping, recipe below
Homemade caramel sauce & whipped cream, if desired
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into a 13″ x 9″ baking pan lined with aluminum foil. Bake about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 1/2 cup sugar using an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Then add eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour over warm crust.
In a small bowl, stir together thinly sliced apples, remaining 2 tbsp. sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle evenly with streusel topping. Bake 30 minutes, or until filling sets. If desired, drizzle with caramel sauce and homemade whipped cream.
Refrigerate for one hour, or more, before serving.
Streusel topping recipe:
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients.