So, is it just me, or is sometimes deciding what to bake harder than actually baking it? I mean, there are so many good recipes out there. With so recipes available online, in cookbooks, and in magazines, sometimes my life feels like recipe overload. There are so many things I’d like to make one day. Cakes and cookies and pastries and cheesecake and pie and about 20453408 other things that can be classified as desserts. Know what I mean??! Therefore, what I love are recipes that bring together the best of the best.
Like these Apple Streusel Cheesecake Bars.
Think about it. A layer of oatmeal cookie dough topped with luscious, creamy cheesecake filling. Sounds pretty awesome, huh? But that’s not all. Sitting above that layer of velvety richness are tender, cinnamon spiced apples and a simple streusel topping that is out of this world.
Can this get any better? Apple Streusel Cheesecake Bars are like three desserts in one: cookies, cheesecake, pie.
And did you catch what these babies are baked up in? Yes, that’s right–a 9×13″ pan. So can it get any easier? I think not. Score!
Don’t shy away based on the length of the recipe. Most ingredients can be found in your pantry, and once you break it down by layer, this dessert comes together in a snap. Much easier than scooping out individual cookies, fussing with a cheesecake’s water bath, or dealing with the tedious process of rolling out pie dough, I say!
And once try ‘em, I’m certain you’ll agree. Just be careful to not take too many test bites in the baking process… you might have a difficult time filling the pan otherwise. Ask me how I know. Sigh… :)Don’t worry, you’ll understand once you take your first bite. Enjoy!
for the apple layer
- 3 1/3 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 6 cups thinly sliced apples [about 6 medium- I used a mix of Gala and Granny Smith]
for the cookie base
- 3 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
for the cheesecake layer
- 2 -8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 baking dish thoroughly with cooking spray or line bottoms and sides with parchment paper.
Begin by preparing the apple layer. In a large pot set over medium heat, stir together water, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, then add apples. Return to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 7-8 minutes, or until apples are tender. Set aside.
While apples are simmering, prepare cookie base. In a large bowl, stir together oats, flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and baking powder. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside 1 1/2 cups, and press rest of mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
Next, with a stand [or electric] mixer, beat together cream cheese, sugar, flour, vanilla, and egg.
Then assemble bars. Spread cheesecake filling over partially baked crust, then spoon apple filling over top. Sprinkle on reserved crumbs, then bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Refrigerate to chill before cutting, then store in the refrigerator.
Time: 60 minutes [20 minutes active].
Yield: 24 bars.
Notes: Bars best for presentation within 24 hours, but they last longer–the crumbs just start to get a bit soggy after a day or so.