Apple-Caramel Cheesecake Bars

Years ago (and I do mean years, as in 30-35) we use to go to a cafeteria in Corpus which served the best cinnamon topped apple cheesecake. It was on my tray every time we went. When I saw this on the front of my new Paula Deen Magazine I jumped for joy. Thanks Paula for your amazing great Southern Recipes! (that is in case she should ever happen to run across my blog…do I dream big or what?)

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 teas kosher salt

Filling:
4 large Pink Lady (or Gala) apples, peeled, halved, cored and diced (about 8 cups)
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 1/2 teas ground cinnamon, divided
1/2 teas ground nutmeg
2 ( 8oz) packages cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
1 cup flour
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 teas salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Caramel Ice Cream topping (like Smuckers, remember if it is Smucker’s, it has to be good)

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 13×9″ baking pan with parchment paper, letting excess extend over the sides of pan.
For crust; in a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with mixer until fluffy. Add flour and salt, beating until combined. Press mixture into bottom of prepared pan. (remember if you do not have parchment paper, just spray the bottom of the baking pan with Pam or butter it well)
Bake for 20 min or until golden brown. Let cool completely.
Meanwhile, back on the farm…in a large bowl, stir together apples 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 teas cinnamon and nutmeg. Transfer apple mixture to a colander set over a bowl; let stand for at least 30 min.
In another large bowl, beat cream cheese, eggs and remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar with mixer until smooth. Pour over cooled crust. Spread drained apple mixture over cream cheese mixture.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour & next 3 ingredients and remaining 1/2 teas cinnamon. Using a pastry cutter or fork, stir in butter and pecans until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over apples.
Bake for 35-40 min or until center is set. Let cool in pan to room temperature. Then place in fridge until completely chilled.
Using excess parchment paper as handles, remove from pan and cut into bars. drizzle with caramel right before serving.
If you did not use parchment paper, you can leave in pan and cut into bars right before serving, using a spatula to serve.

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