This was originally written last October, and it was saved as a draft. No idea what I was planning to add, but here it is.
Last night, our pastor's family invited us over for dinner. While it was a little bit louder than we're used to since they have five little boys ranging from eight to a couple of months younger than our daughter, we had a good time. When his wife texted me to see if we could come I asked if we could bring anything, she said if I wanted I could do dessert which I readily agreed to. She had mentioned they had apple cider, so I set about looking for a dessert that would go well with cider and used ingredients I already had on hand. Apples are a good fit with cheese and I had a package of cream cheese in the fridge, I decided some form of cheesecake would be good. While searching for desserts that go well with cider, I also was reminded that apples are good with caramel. So I thought that would be good, caramel apple cheesecake. I asked Mr. Google, and discovered that I wasn't the first to have the idea. One recipe was an easy Paula Deen recipe, but it called for canned apple pie filling which didn't use the last of the Granny Smith apples I had and would have required a trip to the store. Plus since I've been trying to cook from scratch as much as possible, canned pie filling is generally out. The comments to that recipe led me to a completely from scratch version that sounded great, but it needed to chill for at least 12 hours which I didn't have time for. So I kept looking. Then I found this recipe. The only missing ingredient was caramel sauce, and it only needed to chill for two hours. It looked fairly easy, and so I decided to make it.
My husband's car needs looking at, so we've been down to one car for the past week or so. He needed the car at work, so I found a recipe for homemade caramel sauce. I mixed that up yesterday morning, and then put it into the fridge to chill. Personally I think it tasted better than the bottled sauces you can get, and it stayed true to my goal of making as much as possible from scratch. The bars themselves went together fairly easily. I mixed up the crust with my fingers since I don't have a pastry cutter, and then pressed it into my pan. I only have an 8x8 square pan, so it came out a little thicker and needed to bake a few minutes longer than the recipe called for. I mixed the cheesecake filling in my mixer with the paddle attachment until smooth, and chopped the apples and mixed with pumpkin pie spice and sugar. In a third bowl, I combined all the streusel ingredients and mixed with my fingers since I hadn't managed to get a pastry cutter since putting the crust in the oven. (As an aside, I should possibly look into getting one, but taking off my rings and doing it with my fingers seems to work well so maybe not.) After pulling the crust out of the oven, I layered it with cheesecake filling, then apples, and then streusel . Put it in the oven and set the time. Our daughter fell asleep right after putting it in the oven, so I had a little bit of a toddler free break to catch up on some knitting since starting a week from this Saturday I've got three baby showers in a row for friends and family. Like the crust alone the extra thickness required a few extra minutes in the oven, but otherwise didn't seem to cause any issues. I got the caramel sauce out of the fridge and drizzled it across the top. I tried to do a pretty design, but it poured a little quicker than I was expecting in one corner. It sank into the streusel for the most part, so I think to get a decorative design you'd probably need to wait until it was completely cool. Let it cool on the stove for half and hour, and then put it into the fridge until right before it was time to leave.