Recipe #49: Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bars

Earlier this week my friend Carrie linked to my Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, which then alerted me to this recipe for Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bars. Last night my friend Joselyn had a BBQ supper for some friends so I decided to try making these cheesecake bars to take along for dessert, because you can never go wrong with cheesecake – a point that was proven three times over at supper last night as three of us brought some kind of cheesecake.

Ingredients

Crust

  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and still warm
  • 1/2 cup (3.5 oz) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (9 oz) all-purpose flour

Filling

  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce
  • 1 1/2 lbs cream cheese, at room temperature (about 3 pkgs.)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

Preparation Instructions

To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 F with a rack in the lower third of the oven.  Line a 13×9 baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang so you can lift the bars out after they’ve baked.  Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine the melted butter, sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium bowl.  Stir in the flour until just incorporated – the mixture will be soft, that’s fine.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan and press into an even layer on the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.  Let cool completely.  Turn the oven down to 325 F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl then add the sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth and creamy, about 1-2 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until incorporated and scraping down the sides of the bowl in between.  Transfer 2 tablespoons of this batter to the 1/2 cup of caramel sauce and stir to incorporate.  Pour the remaining cheesecake batter over the cooled crust and spread evenly.

Dollop the caramel sauce mixture over the filling.  Use a toothpick to gently marble the caramel – be careful not to scrape the crust while you are doing it.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are puffed and the center is just barely set.

Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let come to room temperature.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, but preferably 24.  Use the foil sling to lift the bars out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board.  Cut into squares with a long sharp knife.  The bars can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

I love that cheesecake tastes rich and creamy without tasting overly sweet. These bars were a perfect mix of sweet and salty, which is a nice combination after an indulgent supper. The base is a lot like shortbread, so you’re mixing cheesecake with some crunch. They seemed to be a hit according to all who tried them.

I didn’t make my own caramel sauce as candy thermometers scare me (not the actual thermometer, but the process involved in using one – I’m into trying new things but making candy isn’t one of them yet). I used store bought caramel ice cream topping, but I wanted it to be a bit salty so I just sprinkled in a little bit of sea salt. I used the full half cup of caramel sauce that the recipe called for, but it was too much so most of my cheesecake ended up being covered in caramel sauce instead of just a bit here and there like I wanted, but really, you can never have too much of a good thing can you?

Is this a repeat recipe? You bet!

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