Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars w/ Crumble Topping

If you’re anything like me, you’ve likely pinned this glorious looking (and tasting!) dessert that originally aired on Mel’s Kitchen CafĂ©.  I counted at least 4 spins on this recipe, many of which ended up on my I {heart} Fall Pinterest Board

Delicious cinnamon wheat crust.  Cream cheesecake.  A layer of apples and cinnamon. Topped with apple crisp crumble & warm caramel sauce.  Oh my!

I was inspired to finally try the dessert when I saw my friend Rebekah’s spin on it.   She reduced the butter and had excellent results. 

We took it a few steps further:

  • Used white whole wheat flour in place of all purpose
  • Used a combination of Greek yogurt & cream cheese for the filling
  • Used some applesauce in place of butter
  • Decreased the sugar content

The results: A delicious dessert that no one could tell I had made healthier!  Just how much healthier? 

Take a peek (per serving):

 

Original Recipe

FJiMK Healthier Recipe

 Change

Total Calories

352 calories

191 calories

-161 cals

Fat

21.3 grams

8.8 grams

-12.5g

Sugar

22.5 grams

13.5 grams

9g

Protein

4.2 grams

4.2 grams

0g

Calories from Fat

192

79

113

Sodium

195 mg

90 mg

-105mg

Now that’s a dessert I can enjoy! 

Don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list – it’s simple to put together, it just requires layers.  The result is well worth it. 

{Healthier} Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Crumble Topping- Adapted from Mel

Ingredients

  • Base Layer
    • 2 C white whole wheat flour
    • 1/8 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1/2 C unsweetened applesauce
    • 4 T butter, melted
  • Cream Cheese Layer
    • 1 (8oz) package of Neufchatel cream cheese, softened
    • 1 C (8oz) Greek Yogurt (we used Fage)
    • 1/4 C sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Apple Topping
    • 2 large apples, use your favorite variety
    • 1 T sugar
    • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • Crumble Topping
    • 1/2 C brown sugar
    • 1/2 C white whole wheat flour
    • 1 C oats (quick or old fashioned, or a combo)
    • 4 T butter, melted
  • Caramel Sauce
    • 4 T butter
    • 1/8 C whipping cream
    • 1/2 C brown sugar

Directions

Begin by preparing the base layer.  To do so, mix together 2 C white whole wheat flour along with 1/8 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (yep – in the crust … and oh so good!).  Stir to combine. 

Add in 1/2 C unsweetened applesauce and use a fork to incorporate.  Small clumps should begin to form. 

Then, melt 4 T butter.  Add the melted butter to the base layer and stir in, continuing to stir until clumps form. 

Press the base layer in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  You may wish to line the bottom with tinfoil.  I did so in my recipe because the original recipe instructed me to do so.  I think you’d be OK without this step.  Just be sure to spray the bottom of the pan with olive oil. 

Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes in an over heated to 350 degrees. 

Up next, prepare the cream cheese layer.  Take 1 pkg (8oz) of softened Neufchatel cream cheese and place it in a metal bowl along with 1 C plain Greek Yogurt.  Add in 1/4 C sugar, 1 egg, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. 

Using beaters, beat the mixture until smooth.  Set aside.

After the cream cheese layer, prepare the apples.  Peel, core and slice 2-3 large apples of your favorite variety.  We recommend using a slightly-tart variety.  We used Haralson.  The original recipe called for Granny Smith.  I’m convinced you can’t go wrong, unless you use red delicious – and if that’s the case, we need to talk about more than this dessert ;-)

Take the apple slices and toss with 1 T sugar, 3/4 tsp. cinnamon and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg.  Set aside.  {if your apples are sweet, you may choose to omit the sugar all together}

Finally, prepare the crumble topping.  Combine 1/2 C brown sugar with 1/2 C white whole wheat flour and 1 C oats.  Stir. 

Melt 4 T butter and drizzle the melted butter over the oat mixture.  Use a fork and incorporate so that little clumps form. 

Depending on the coarseness of your flour (we used King Arthur White Whole Wheat), you may find the crumble topping does not stick together well – if that is the case, add 1 additional T melted butter.  Set aside. 

When the crust is baked, assemble the layers:

1) Pour the cream cheese mixture over the warm base.

2) Layer the apple cinnamon mixture over the cream cheese one. 

If you there is accumulated juices from the apple in the bowl, make sure you strain the apples before placing them atop the cream cheese layer! No soggy base here! 

3) Sprinkle the crumble topping over the apples. 

Bake the cream cheese apple bars at 350 for 30 minutes, until the center is set.  You’ll know it’s set if you can remove the pan from the oven and the center doesn’t jiggle!

 

Cool the bars to room temperature on the counter.  If you are serving the dessert right away, proceed.  If you’ve made it ahead of time, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve once the dish has cooled to room temperature. 

{Note: refrigerating the dessert moistens the crumble topping and it is not as crunchy as the days wear on; this doesn’t affect the great taste, but does influence the texture.  Although, with the great caramel sauce – it’s not overly noticeable!}

Finally, prepare the caramel sauce.  Melt the 4 T butter in a saucepan.  Add in the 1/2 C brown sugar and 1/8 C whipping cream (or half-and-half).  Stir until mixture comes to a boil, boil for 2-3 minutes.  Then, cool completely. 

To serve, slice the dessert into 24 pieces.  Serve each piece topped with caramel sauce. 

The dessert is best served chilled. 

An alternative to making your own caramel – find your favorite caramels (we love my mom’s homemade!) – and if they are soft and melt nicely, simply lay the caramel over the top of the dessert, microwave it for 20-30 seconds and enjoy.  The bars are delicious at this temperature too. 

Enjoy!

**Of course, this dessert would be even healthier if you used natural sugars!  Go ahead & give it a try – let me know if you do.**

7 comments:

  1. Awesome! I never would have thought to use Greek yogurt in the cheesecake - I'll have to try that! I love how you made this a "healthy" dessert - that means I can eat more, right? :)

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  2. I'm always so nervous to tweak recipe ingredients in an effort to make them healthier (I don't really know why...I guess I'm afraid it'll be a big flop!), but I'm so glad you have the guts to do it and then share it with us! :) These look delicious!!

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  3. Nice work making this even healthier! I love using those subs like yogurt and applesauce. I just got a new kitchen floor on Sunday and my appliances aren't back in yet - I'm anxious to get cooking again!

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  4. Now I have to make this tomorrow. I can't tell you how good this looks.

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  5. You did a great job of lightening this up without sacrificing taste! All those layers equal super scrumptious!

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  6. Hi Snow White! So glad I found your blog! I definitely will have to do this apple cheesecake, my kids will love it!

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Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear from you; especially how you're finding JOY in your kitchen.

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