These Apple Cheesecake Bars are ready to feed a crowd or a few people with plenty of leftovers. It’s rich and creamy with sweet & tangy apples and a hint of spices. This is exactly what I’ll be making for this upcoming Thanksgiving!
Hi Los Angeles, we’re back! We drove down on Sunday, but our stuffs are still not here. Hopefully, they’ll be coming in the next couple days. Since we have no furniture and Bryan has to work, we went to Ikea and bought a set of outdoor furniture. At this very moment, Bryan and I are sharing this tiny table while he’s on conference zoom calls and I’m writing this post. Not the most ideal, but it’ll do for now.
With Thanksgiving just 2 weeks away, I want to share this amazing Apple Cheesecake Bars recipe. I made this just before we moved. Apple desserts are something I look forward to every year. This year, it’s a classic rich cheesecake with swirls of sweet and tart apple puree, then top with some sautéed apples. It’s the perfect balance of flavors. It was fantastic, and I will be making this again for Thanksgiving.
When making an apple dessert, I always pick a variety of apples to use. Something tart and something sweet. For this recipe, I used Granny Smith & Honeycrisp. Just make sure to use apples that can hold up during cooking, because you want the sautéed apple to have a little bit texture and not mushy.
To start, cut the apples into little cubes. Then sauté with spices, butter & lemon until tender. Take out 3/4 of the apples and set them in the fridge. Those will be the topping for the cheesecake. Then, process the 1/4 apples into puree. That will be added to the cheesecake batter.
Now, prepare your baking pan by greasing with butter and lining with parchment papers. This will help to remove the cheesecake easily at the end.
For the crust, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter. Press it firmly to the bottom of the pan. Bake in the oven for just 5 minutes. Let the pan and crust cool completely.
The cheesecake batter is pretty straight forward. Beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Next is sugar, then sour cream and vanilla. Last add eggs, but make sure not to over beat. Beating too much will incorporate too much air into the batter, which will create more bubbles and cracks.
Now, pour the batter into the baking pan. Divide the apple puree into 1/2. Drop small teaspoon of 1/2 of the apple puree all over the batter and run a skewer through them a few times to blend the batter. For the other 1/2 of the puree, drop them into the batter just like before, but this time, just barely run the skewer through them, so big chunks of puree are still visible on top. That’s it. Bake until puffy on the edges and slightly jiggling in the center. Let the cheesecake cool on top of the stove on a cooling rack. The warmth of the oven will slow down the cooling, which will help prevent cracks. Once it’s cooled, it needs to be set in the fridge for at least 2 more hours. Patient is key.
There is your beautiful & flavorful apple cheesecake. Lift up the cheesecake with the help of the parchment papers and put on a chopping board. Peel off the parchment papers on the sides and cut the cheesecake into bars. I cut them into 12 squares, but I have to warn you that there’re pretty big. I like them that way, but Bryan thought they’re a little too big. It’s up to you how you want them cut.
Creamy cheesecake with sweet and tangy apples and little bit of spices. It sure was a great ending to any meal. Hope you like this recipe! I’ll be busy unpacking soon (I REALLY HOPE SO!), so I probably won’t have any more new recipes at least after Thanksgiving. Have a Happy Thanksgiving! Stay safe & healthy! I’ll see you soon!
Apple Cheesecake Bars
Apple Puree & Sautéed Apples:
- 6 cups assorted apples (about 4 medium apples)(peeled & cut into ½-inch cubes)
- 4 teaspoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground all spice
- Pinch of salt
Graham Cracker Crust:
- Unsalted butter (to grease the pan)
- 2½ cups graham cracker crumbs (about 20 full-size crackers)
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
- 32 ounces cream cheese (at room temperature)
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup sour cream (at room temperature)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs (at room temperature)
- In a medium saucepan, combine apples, lemon juice, light brown sugar, butter, spices and salt. Cook over medium heat for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside and cool for 10 minutes.
- Transfer 3/4 of the apples to a medium bowl. Cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge. For the rest of the apples, add to a food processor and process into a puree (about ¾ cup). The puree should be pretty thick. Transfer to a small bowl to cool completely.
- Preheat oven to 325°F (165˚C). Lightly butter a 9 x 13 metal baking pan. Line with 2 parchment papers (1 lengthwise & 1 crosswise), leaving some overhang on all sides, then butter the parchment papers again.
- For the crust, in a large bowl, whisk together graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Add the melted butter and mix everything together. Press the mixture firmly onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a cooling rack.
- For the filling, in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add cream cheese. Beat at medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add sugar and beat to combine. Add sour cream and vanilla extract, and mix well. Add eggs and beat on medium-speed until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple times. Do not overmix. Pour the filling into the cooled baking pan.
- To make the apple spots, using a small spoon, start with ½ of the puree. Scoop about ½ teaspoon of puree and drop them all over the cheesecake filling. With a toothpick or skewer, draw through the dollops of puree a few times to blend. It’s ok if the puree sinks at this point. Then, drop the other ½ of the puree. This time, do not draw through the dollops as much, so the puree stays more intact and remains visible on top.
- Carefully transfer the baking pan to the oven and bake for 40 – 43 minutes, until the edges are slightly puffed and the middle is slightly wobbly (when you shake the pan). Do not overbake. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack on stovetop and let cool completely, about 3 hours. Putting the cheesecake near the oven will prevent the cheesecake to cool too quickly, which can help to reduce cracks.
- Chill the cheesecake in the fridge until cold, at least 2 hours.
- When ready to serve, gently use the parchment paper overhangs to lift the entire cheesecake out of the pan. Place on a cutting board and cut into 12 big squares or 24 small squares. Transfer to serving plates, top with the sautéed apples and serve.
- Sautéed apples are not a must, but they add some acidity and help balance out the rich cheesecake.
- If the cheesecake cracks a bit, it’s ok. You will cover it with some sautéed apples when serving.
- When cutting the cheesecake, wipe down the knife every time with a damp towel or paper towel for a clean looking cut.
- For storage, the cheesecake bars will last up to 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge.