Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Streusel Topping

makes 2 dozen

For the Bars

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup (8-ounces) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar plus 2 Tablespoons, divided

2 extra large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into a 1/4-inch dice

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the Streusel

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup quick cooking oats

1/2 cup (4-ounces) unsalted butter, softened

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Topping

1/2 cup caramel sauce, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line a 9-x13-x2-inch baking pan with heavy duty aluminum foil; set aside

For the Streusel

In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients with a fork until all of the butter is incorporated; set aside.

For the Bars

In the bowl of a food processor combine the flour, brown sugar, and salt.  Add the butter and pulse until small crumbs form. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.  Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, wipe out the bowl of the food processor.  Add the cream cheese, 1/2 cup of the sugar, eggs, and vanilla; process until smooth; set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together the apples, cinnamon, 2 Tablespoons sugar, and lemon juice; set aside.

While the crust is still warm, evenly spoon the cream cheese mixture on top.  Evenly spoon the apple mixture on top of the cream cheese.  Squeeze a handful of the streusel topping in your hand, then break into small clumps and sprinkle evenly over the apples.  Continue with remaining streusel.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the filling is set.  Cool completely on a wire rack.  Refrigerate for several hours or preferably overnight until firm.

When ready to serve, remove the the cheesecake from the pan using the aluminum foil.  Carefully peel the aluminum foil from the sides of the cheesecake. Cut into 24 squares and drizzle with the caramel sauce.  Enjoy!

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