Monday, November 21, 2011

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars and Life

I have had alot going on in my life the last few weeks. The old saying, "When it rains it pours", pretty much sums up my life lately. I wasn't going to post anything on my blog about it all and just stick to talking about food, but oh well, so much for that. My mind has been consumed with everything going on. 

My best friend had a baby about three weeks ago and has been in the hospital ever since. There have been complications and it has been one thing after another. We are praying continuously for her. Thankfully, the baby boy is healthy, beautiful and a constant joy.
Then yesterday, I get the call that my Grandfather has passed away. It was not a surprise, he was in hospice care, yet still a sad day. Every Christmas was spent at his house. He was a quiet, strong man who loved us all dearly in his own special way. Since the day I was born, he never missed a birthday. No matter where I moved to or how old I got, I always knew there would be a card in my mailbox from my Grandpa. With Thanksgiving just three short days away, I want to tell you how thankful I am. Yes, life tries to get the better of you, but you have a choice to drown in self pity or find the blessing. My Grandfather left a journal for his children and grandchildren and I cannot wait to read what he has left us. As I stated, he was quiet and humble, but has accomplished much. I know I will be posting more about him in the future. 
Of course, when things get me a bit down, I bake.
Let's talk about this dessert for a minute.

You will need:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

Cream Cheese Layer:
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Streusel Topping:
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

Caramel topping:
You could use my homemade one found here. I made it ahead of time and had it ready.
or caramel ice cream topping

I found this recipe on, you can find her recipe here. The only thing I did differently, was use my own caramel sauce and added extra to the cheesecake layer.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

This has a few steps, but it all comes together nicely and is so worth it. 
Let's start with three Granny Smith apples.

After you have peeled and diced them, sprinkle with the sugar and spices, so  nice. Put aside.

Next, make the struesel topping. Mix all the struesel ingredients together and mix until crumble. I actually used my hands to crumble.

Onto the base. 
In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two forks until mixture is crumbly but combined. Press evenly into a 9X13-inch baking pan lined with aluminum foil. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
I used the two forks method and it worked nicely.

While the crust is baking, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Then add eggs, one at a time and then the vanilla. Mix well. 

Now that we have everything ready, it will be a sinch to put together.
Oh, I did make the caramel sauce a day ahead and had it ready. 

Pour the cheesecake layer over the warm crust.

Spoon the apple layer even over the cheesecake layer.

Sprinkle the struesel topping on the apple layer.
Bake for 30 minutes until the filling is set.

While still warm, drizzle on the caramel topping, reserving some for each individual slice. 

Then slice, drizzle and enjoy!

I am thankful to you for following along with my blog and letting me talk about life with you. 
I know many of you have lost loved ones and can sympathize with me. Let's be thankful for the time shared with them. My Grandpa was Italian, he came over to the US when he was a boy. Every Christmas we had an Italian feast, I loved it! I will be posting a recipe in honor of him soon.

Does your family have a favorite food tradition? I would love to hear it.

Baking from my heart to your kitchen,

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