Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars With Pretzel Streusal

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 It was weekly baking time here at The Hardscrabble Home the other day.  Gone were the last of the lemon squares I made last week.  (No, I didn't post that one, but I will soon.)  I looked through my family cookbook (I'll show you that soon, too) and came up with nothing but bits and pieces of other recipes that I thought could all come together to make one really good recipe.  So, that's what I did.  

I mulled over some ideas in my head and called my fellow baker Kimmie.  Kimmie is known for her awesome pie baking skills.  That and her past ability to sneak up silently (like a ninja) behind an unsuspecting coworker and scare the living daylights out of them (me).  Those were the days!   

I told her what I had in mind with the four distinct layers of this dessert.  Then together she and I talked it through, tweaked it here and there and came up this...behold the good-lookingness of this sweet treat.... 
  See the different layers?  Yum.
I took parts of three different recipes to come up with this one.  I used the base of a lemon square.  The cream cheese layer came from my Aunt Lorraine's strawberry pretzel dessert recipeHer recipe also inspired the pretzel streusal as a topping.  The apple and caramel layers were inspired by an apple pizza recipeSo, much inspiration, a little imagination and some additional tweaking by Kimmie & Steffie made this recipe successful.    

Without further ado, here is our recipe for:

Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Pretzel Streusal
by The Hardscrabble Home 

The Base: 
2 cups flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup melted unsalted butter  
  1. Grease a 9 x 13 pan and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  1. Mix together flour, powdered sugar and melted butter.
  2. Press the dough into the bottom of your pan, forming a crust.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and ready your cream cheese layer.

Cream Cheese Layer: 
2 - 8 oz. softened Cream Cheese
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla 
  1. Using electric mixer, mix cream cheese with sugar and vanilla.   
  2. Spread gently over the shortbread base (which at this point has cooked for 15 minutes.)

Apple Layer:
4 Apples
3 T. flour
1/2 cup brown sugar 
  1. Peel and dice four apples.  I used what I had on hand which was Red Delicious.  Others prefer different types of apples to use for baking, but Red Delicious is what I usually buy and it works well for me in baking.  But, it's "Baker's Choice" when it comes to the apples.
  2. Toss the apples with flour and brown sugar.  
  3. Arrange apple mixture over the cream cheese layer.

Pretzel Streusal:
Mini Pretzels approx.40
1/2 cup flour
1/8 cup brown sugar 
4 T. unsalted butter 
  1. Crush pretzels.  You want about a cup of them, more or less depending on your streusal preferance.  
  2. Mix one cup of crushed pretzels with flour and brown sugar.  Add unsalted butter to pretzel mixture and work it together with your hands or a pastry cutter, but hands work best.
  3. Sprinkle pretzel streusal over apple layer.
  4. Place pan back into 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Once baked, cut into bars, cool slightly, and cut into bars.
Caramel Ice Cream Topping
Sea Salt
  1. Drizzle caramel sauce (I used jarred sauce but feel free to make your own if you have a good recipe for it) and then add a few cranks of sea salt over it all.  
That is it.  You are all done and ready to dig in.  I didn't try freezing this one because I gave half of the pan away to taste testers.  They loved it.  I hope you do, too!  

Here's one more look... 
And one more for good measure...
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