Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Emma's Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

Today, I've got a guest post to share! It's my very first one, too! 

What makes it even better is that it's my own little sister, Emma! 

You've heard her name mentioned many times before in my posts and even saw some recipes I borrowed from her (Crab Rangoon Cupcakes, anyone?). I sort of dared her to take a ton of photos of her next famous creation a few weeks back, egging her on to write a full post herself, and to my surprise, she did! One day, I got an email full of photos of her insanely good Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars and got her to write up a post for you all! 

Because, seriously, you need these bars in your life. LIKE NOW. 

So without further ado, here's Emma!

Hello, all! I am definitely not a writer by any means, but I told Sara she HAD to post these bars for everyone’s fall baking. Unfortunately, she told me I also had to write the story behind them! It is not fall until the CACB have been made. They can be tedious (if you peel the apples – I don’t anymore!) as they have a few layers, but they are totally worth it.

I started making these heavenly bars a few years ago when I moved out on my own and fell in love with baking new treats. At the time I worked two lovely exhausting jobs – one at a supermarket, the other at an alternative middle/high school.

I know bribing is often frowned upon these days, but anyone reading this who is a parent know – sometimes it is necessary! I am also sure Michelle Obama will kill me for bribing students with food, but what does she know!? As a teacher’s aide that year, I assisted one teacher with his class of 8 “thugs." While these boys were considered the tough ones, I was not intimidated. There is NOTHING in this world that can be too tough for a little home baking. 

Let’s be honest, they all were desperate for some motherly love. That is exactly what they got!

But then they started bribing me – see, they started it!

They thought they were bribing me but, in reality, they began learning how to work for something they wanted. They earned cheesecake bars. I played along and made it seem like they “won," but the best moment was when they actually earned the baked goods, whether it be a behavioral goal of no restraints for a week or they had to bring a grade up in a class. The moment I walked in Monday morning - holding my container of EARNED baked goods -  they were ecstatic!

I loved every second of my time there! Baking the CACB once a year became a tradition. It made me realize that a lot of the kids – if not all - didn't have traditions at home. Many of my boys never had a mother to bake for them or theirs didn’t care enough to do it.

Those were - and always will be - my 8 babies. I’m sure parents can tell me I have no idea what a real mother’s love feels like, but I disagree. I have cried with these children, reprimanded these children, loved these children, provided for these children and. most importantly, I have fought for these children and their right to be loved and cared for. 

Even if all it took was a Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bar...

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

Recipe by Adapted from Paula Deen

For the crust:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
For the cheesecake filling:
  • 3 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
For the apple mixture:
  • 3 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
For the streusel topping:
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup caramel topping
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Make the crust. In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or use a food processor!) until mixture is crumbly.
  3. Press the dough evenly into a 9x13 baking pan lined with foil.
  4. Bake crust for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 3/4 cup sugar at medium speed.
  6. Add eggs, 1 at a time, followed by vanilla.
  7. Mix to combine and pour over the baked crust.
  8. Prepare your apples. In a small bowl, stir together the chopped apples, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  9. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture.
  10. Make your streusel topping. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients listed above until mixed and clumpy.
  11. Sprinkle streusel over apple layer.
  12. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until filling is set.
  13. Drizzle with caramel topping and let cool.