Can you guys believe that?? I’ve posted almost 350 recipes and/or tutorials on Bakingdom in less than three years time. Yowza.
I really wanted to make something special for this post, and even though it has been delayed because of stupid computers thinking they’re the boss of me (which they pretty much are, but don’t tell them I said that), this recipe, these amazing cheesecake bars, were totally worth the wait. Trust me.
I’ve been completely obsessed with apple cider this Autumn. I always love it, but this year, for inexplicable reasons, I want it all the time. Like, every day I’m throwing back cider like there’s no tomorrow.
I kinda figured I’d make my obsession useful, and what could be more useful and wonderful than apple cider cheesecake? Apple cider cheesecake on top of buttery shortbread with cinnamon apple streusel, that’s what.
Before you go any further, I need you to know how incredibly delicious these bars are. I think it’s important for you to know what you’re getting into, because you need to make these. By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you make these apple cider cheesecake bars!
Go on now. Make them.
Since we’re making the streusel first, that means you need a peeled, cored, and finely diced apple. I used Fuji, and really prefer it; it lends perfect flavor to the cideriness (what? that’s a word) of the recipe. You want it finely diced, because it’s not going to bake for very long, so in order to cook it through, it needs to be finer.
The streusel is pretty basic, with cinnamon, brown sugar, flour, just a touch of granulated sugar, and butter. Then, you just throw in those teeny, tiny, sweet apple bits and you’re good to go. Cover the whole mixture up, and stick it in the freezer while you get everything else together.
I kept the shortbread for this simple, because I didn’t want it overpowering the filling. The recipe I used is a perfect compliment. It just gets pressed into a lightly oiled 9×13 pan and par baked at 300 degrees for about 12 minutes.
While the shortbread is in the oven, you’ll get the filling ready. It’s super easy; you basically throw everything in the bowl and mix it up real good.
When the shortbread comes out of the oven, turn the heat up to 400, pour the filling over the shortbread, and evenly sprinkle the streusel on top. Now, it bakes for about 35 minutes, until it’s cheesecaky perfection.
Seriously, does it get any better??
I think not.
I need to reiterate to you all how amazing and wonderful these bars are. They are so fresh and Fall-ish tasting, and they’re, by far, one of the very best desserts I’ve made. And I’ve made well over 300 for Bakingdom alone, so that’s no small feat!
Please don’t let the fact that these have three components to them stop you from making them. Each step is incredibly simple, and the end result is so worth the small amount of work. So. Worth it.
The streusel and shortbread dough for this recipe can both be made in advance, and kept refrigerated, then you just need to prepare the filling, assemble, and bake on the day (or the day before) you plan to serve them.
Apple Cider Cheesecake Shortbread Bars [Printable Version]
with Cinnamon Apple Streusel
Makes 1 9×13 pan
FOR THE STREUSEL
1/2 cup ( 127 grams) brown sugar
1/2 cup (63 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (about 13 grams) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (half a stick or 56 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch squares
1 apple (I used Fuji), peeled, cored, and finely chopped
FOR THE SHORTBREAD
1 cup (2 sticks or 226 grams) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup (94 grams) confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups (286 grams) flour
FOR THE FILLING
12 ounces (339 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup (133 grams) granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup (125 ml) apple cider
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
To make the streusel: In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Mix the cold butter into the mixture by hand, squeezing the pieces in to mix it. Stir the apple pieces into the streusel until evenly distributed.
Cover and freeze while you prepare the shortbread and filling.
To make the shortbread: Preheat oven to 300 (150 C) degrees. Lightly coat a 9×13 pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the salt and flour and continue beating until everything is fully incorporated and the mixture resembles wet sand with large clumps.
Using your hands, press all of the crumbs together in the bowl until it all forms a cohesive dough.
Press evenly into prepared pan. Bake for 12 minutes. Prepare the filling while the shortbread bakes.
To make the filling: In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the eggs and yolk, one at a time, and stir until combined. Scrape the bowl between each egg. Stir in the apple cider until thoroughly combined. Stir in the vanilla.
Assemble: Increase oven temperature to 400 (200 C) degrees.
Pour the cheesecake filling over the pre-baked shortbread. Sprinkle the cold streusel over the top. The streusel will sink into the filling a bit, this is okay.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the edges just turn golden brown, and the center no longer jiggles. Allow to cool completely before serving. Refrigerate, covered, for up to 3 days.
Recipe by Darla