You know…how there are people who make fun of those people who go to McDonald’s, totally supersize everything and then order a diet Coke?

Like, really insist on it being diet?

Like, check in with the soda attendant (yes, I’ve just made up an entire profession. Apparently I can create jobs faster than the presidential candidates. FTW!) at least five times to make sure it’s actually diet?


I am one of those people. Errrr…both of those people.

Minus the McDonalds/diet Coke part because, well, I’m also one of those people who gags audibly whenever I walk by such an establishment.  The same way I fake cough uncontrollably whenever I walk by anyone who is smoking.  And say “Excuse You” in a very loud, annoyed voice to anyone who I think is in my way/walking too slowly/doing anything that I find offensive.  I’m really a pleasure to cohabit the sidewalk with.  Truly.

Anyways. My point is that I strolled up to the cash register at Whole Foods last week with five pounds of butter, brown sugar, regular sugar, local fresh ricotta (swoon), gruyere, mozzarella and….reduced fat cream cheese.

One of these things is not like the other, I’ll tell you that much.


But here’s the thing guys.  These bars have apples in them.  They totally aspire to be health food! They’re not very good at it…but an E for Effort, right?  So it’s the least we can do to encourage them with some reduced fat cream cheese.

Really, I’m just doing my part.  For the greater good.  And so that we can all feel a little less guilty when we keep cutting off “just one tiny square” to have for breakfast.  Because I promise…once you have your first bite….that’s what you’ll be doing.  Every twenty minutes.  I swear it.

PEOPLE! I officially have LESS than $200 to raise for The Leukemia Lymphoma Society so that I can run the New York City Marathon in less than three weeks (yikes!) and it’s all thanks to YOU.  For those who don’t know, I’m running in honor of my dad this year as he passed away from cancer this past month.  If you feel so inclined to donate, here is the link to my page.  And remember, every donation counts no matter how small so even if you only have a few dollars to give, it’s SO worth it and will be greatly appreciated!

PicMonkey Collage

Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
Makes 1 8×8-inch pan, adapted from Closet Cooking

For the crust

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

For the cheesecake

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 8 oz reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the apple filling 

  • 2 granny smith apples, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg

For the streusel topping

  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

For the caramel sauce

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp coarse salt


  1. For the crust, cut the butter into the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon until combined and crumbly. Press the mixture into the bottom of an 8×8-inch pan that has been lined with aluminum foil.  Bake at 350 until lightly golden brown, 8-12 minutes.  Set aside and let cool.
  2. For the cheesecake, beat the sugar into the cream cheese until smooth.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Pour the mixture into the baking dish over the crust.
  3. For the apple filling, mix the apples, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a large bowl.  Sprinkle on top of the cheesecake in an even layer.
  4. For the streusel topping, cut the butter into the flour, oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon until combined and crumbly.  Sprinkle evenly over the apples.  Bake at 350 until the cheesecake is set, about 25-35 minutes. let cool.
  5. For the caramel sauce, heat the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Let simmer until the sugar turns a medium amber, swirling the pan every 30 seconds or so.  Remove from the heat and carefully pour in the heavy cream.  Return to the heat and cook until smooth, stirring with a wooden spoon.  Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Let cool for a few minutes before mixing in the vanilla and salt.  Let cool and serve over the apple cheesecake bars.

This is linked to Food Frenzy Friday!

You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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98 Responses to Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

  1. This post just reaffirms why I love you… and these bars… omg.

  2. Simply Life says:

    haha, I love that you checked out of whole foods with all those things. I bet the store employees wanted to go your home for whatever you would be baking with all that. 🙂

  3. daphne says:

    who can resist this?!!?! And looking at your ingredient list- no lost having some reduced fat cream cheese, there are some recipes that do like the reduced fat version :p These bars look perfect for my treat day!

  4. Foodycat says:

    I could not stop at one little slice!

  5. Amy says:

    Fat free dairy is wrong. That’s my motto. But reduced fat cream cheese in something like this is totally acceptable. If I had been behind you in line, and scanned your cart items, I would have absolutely inquired what you were making. And wanted to be immediate friends.

    Also? I totally want to walk down the sidewalks of NYC with you…sounds like it’d be hilarious!

  6. I love you… because I think we may be the same person. I give people nasty looks when they are smoking right next to me and I get so angry when people walk too slowly.

    Ok… enough of the ranting. This is amazing! I’m such a sucker for cheesecake and that salted caramel is seriously making me drool.

  7. Salty sweet, these are perfect! I’d never be able to resist one. or two.

  8. london bakes says:

    Yup, these are totally healthy with all that fruit in there!

  9. Beth says:

    I swooned too, when I saw your squares.

    And your grocery store trip reminded me of myself. It seems I’m usually buying either healthy green stuff or unhealthy baking stuff, never both at the same time. The cashiers must think I’m twins – strangely dissimilar twins.

  10. When I go to the store and I buy a ton of butter and sugar the people ringing me out just give me that funny look!! Or if I’m with my Hubby I get healthy stuff and his cart has chips, soda, and coffee creamer they person ringing us laughs because they can tell who is the healthy one!!

    Your cheesecake bars look out of this world!! Have a great weekend!

  11. You are too funny, Joanne. I think we all have our moments. I may not make a granola bar because it was 1 cup of peanut butter in it, but somehow I will gladly plop it onto on my morning bowl of oats!

  12. Karis Ann says:

    I love checking out people’s carts at the grocery store. Typically it makes me laugh, but I find it sad when I see young kids and a cart piled high with sugary cereal, poptarts, frozen pizza and soda.

  13. Marcia says:

    Omg these look so good!

  14. Jenn says:

    Oh. My. Heaven. I want these now!! And I love your words… so true!

  15. These are some serious bars!! I think I’m in love. So many fabulous flavors going on here!

  16. I freaking NEED to make these! Oh goodness do they look amazing, all of my favorite things!

  17. Saguna says:

    These bars, which look like what I would imagine to be the perfect collision of a cheesecake and an apple pie- utter genius, are definitely contributing to the greater good.

    When I go out I order the largest plate of spaghetti they have to offer… with a diet soda on the side. Somehow I try to get away with balancing excess with minimalism… It works. In my mind. 🙂

  18. kelsey says:

    stop it. stop it right now with this.

  19. So…you thought if you showed us a photo large enough (in our face large) that we couldn’t resist and would have to rush out and buy all the goodie to make these? Well…you’re right! These look amazing!

  20. Esi says:

    This recipe is still one of my favorites. Love it.

  21. Danielle says:

    This looks like the perfect fall treat – thanks for linking up !

  22. Kevin says:

    Those look so good! They are definitely one of my favourite fall treats!

  23. JasmyneTea says:

    If by “one tiny square” you mean “one 5 inch x 5 inch piece”, then you’ve just described my habit when it comes to cake! No doubt I’d feel the same about this sexy slice!

  24. These bars are perfect! I love salted caramel and apples together!

  25. No comments on reduced fat cream cheese…
    Never realised cheese cake and apples go together, probably like diet coke with triple cheeseburger:)

  26. I hate McDonalds, I demand Diet Coke, and I too cough at smokers. But then I go and eat brownies for breakfast. Are I the worst? Probably. At least I know there are others out there. *sigh*

  27. Oh my goodness sakes – these look fantastic!

  28. sandra says:

    I also have sidewalk road rage, particularly when meandering pedestrians get in my very directed path, so I relate. This dessert looks amazing.

  29. marie says:

    As soon as I saw these I thought “Done”, these are right up my alley. I think we’re all a little guilty of being a food contradiction. Oh well.

  30. I don’t like fast food. Though, I confess, that I do like Egg McMuffins. I can’t help myself. But, when I do cave in to buying a burger (no mayo, no cheese) and (my weakness) fries, somehow a diet soda offsets the guilt of the fries. About these bars. O-M-G Caramel is my weakness. I’m so impressed that you made your own. Love. Wishing you the best for your run, in your dad’s memory.

  31. Tandy says:

    Living in a city with busy sidewalks must mean a lot of mumbling at slow people! Love that you could find a good reason for the low fat 🙂

  32. Actually, reduced fat cream cheese is the ‘real’ cream cheese. It’s called Neufchatel (which you’ll occasionally see on packages rather than ‘reduced fat’) but when they manufactured it in America as cream cheese, they increased the fat content. But Neufchatel (‘reduced fat cream cheese’) came first.

  33. Catherine says:

    Dear Joanne, All I can say is simply delicious and perfect for the season. Blessings dearest. Catherine xoxo

  34. Mo 'Betta says:

    These look amazing, as usual! I used to be very guilty of having a candy bar & a diet drink….what am I saying – I’m still that person.

  35. These are actually just dreamy. And that’s a word I hardly ever use. Oh my goodness. I too have a real bugbear with those people in the supermarket who load their trolley up with ready meals and packaged baked goods, and then buy low-fat salad dressing or something like that. Ludicrous.

  36. Oh these look beyond divine. Low fat cream cheese makes all the difference. They’re officially a health food bar. My parents used to let us have homemade pie for breakfast if it was homemade since it had fruit in it. Sounds reasonable to me.

  37. Jessie says:

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who fake-coughs whenever I’m passing someone who’s smoking. Now I’ve gotten Peter doing it too (poor guy). I’ve also gone to the cash register with an — ahem — “interesting” mix of items before. Usually the cashier won’t look at me askance unless we’re chatting and he or she asks me “so, what do you do?”, and I’m like “I’m a dietitian”, and then they start ogling my butter and high-fat cream like I’m trying to buy drugs.

    And of course the apple makes this a fruit 😉

    Congrats on reaching your fundraising goal, Joanne! 🙂

  38. I’m totally the same way. The light cream cheese cancels out the bad stuff!

  39. Pam says:

    Excellent photos Joanne! They are seriously making my mouth water!

  40. Geni says:

    This looks so crazy amazing! I would definitely eat it for breakfast, and then a little more. Gorgeous pics Joanne!

  41. Joanne, these are simply amazing. I can’t wait to make a batch of these!

  42. Debbie says:

    The caramel sauce just puts this over the top! I have all the ingredients on hand and have a ton of apples from the past weekend. Oh, and I am definitely one of those people that will cut off a teeny tiny square of cake and then go back and keep picking on it for hours….I guess this way the mind thinks I am eating less!!!

  43. Meghan says:

    These look delicious, and the beginning of this post made me laugh. I also like to yell “thank you” when someone doesn’t hold the door for me, and “you dropped something!” when I seem someone litter.

    I am running NYC too. . .eek!

  44. wow you had me at salted caramel. thanks for linking up to friday food frenzy

  45. Did you see the news about Diet Coke in the news this morning? Not that I didn’t already think that stuff was pure evil in a can.

    Loving this bars covered in salted caramel! Oh my!

  46. Eileen says:

    Look at that oozing caramel! These bars sound so much better than the traditional caramel apple on a stick–and easier to eat. And cheesecakier. Super fall!

  47. Ha Ha good health food. I was out with 4 bloggers yesterday having high tea……..macrons, cream puffs, little tartlets etc and one of the girls ordered equal for her tea. Is this what you mean?
    This is a perfect whiole foods recipe except for the reduced fat cream cheese….what is that anyways? x

  48. Kari says:

    This post completely cracked me up, because I am exactly the same – although not with McDonalds / diet products as you aptly note, but with making seriously high energy desserts but sticking a ‘whole foods’ or ‘vegan’ label on them and suddenly its like they’re in a different category. I know they aren’t, but it amuses me that the whole of the world seems to share this tendency to think of something as ‘healthy’ when it has a healthy-sounding label attached 🙂

    Anyway, on more important matters, these look wonderful whatever category we put them in!

  49. Donna says:

    I firmly believe that the healthiness of the apples cancels out any un-healthiness. And that anything you eat standing up does not have calories. Ditto for anything you eat while sipping diet coke. Or diet anything. YOU are my culinary soulmate.

  50. Guru Uru says:

    Haha you are so right, I never looked at it like that – I HATE smokers in public yet am I the epitome of health when I eat strawberries and cream for breakfast? Or these delicious lttle bars for that? 😀


  51. OohLookBel says:

    You realise, of course, that ‘diet’ or ‘reduced-fat’ anything cancels out the high cal content of neighbouring foods? Fact” Another fact is that I’m so making thse bars this weekend. Yummo.

  52. Johanna GGG says:

    these are definitely a preferable health food to me than a supersized mcdonald’s meal and a diet coke! sounds delicious

  53. Monet says:

    I’ll consider them health food 🙂 And besides, these bars are made with love, care and quality ingredients. Far better than McDonald’s! Thank you for sharing, Joanne!

  54. That Girl says:

    I just can’t do reduced fat cream cheese. The consistency is off for me.

  55. Estupenda receta me gusta,abrazos y abrazos

  56. Laura says:

    Drool. Seriously. Who cares about health?

  57. hahaha!! joanne you totally crack me up!! That’s hilarious! I’m the same way too! Hate it when people smoke right in front of me / at the bus stops etc.. But yeah, though most people see me eat tiny lunches and dinner, I totally binge on baked goods in the mornings for no good reason! oh wells! I can’t see myself resisting this cheesecake either if I had it right in front of me! 🙂

  58. Girl, the things you do to me. I really do look forward to your Friday posts-can’t help it. You make the most delish desserts and dessert is kinda my thang. Because I will totally eat a salad for lunch and skip dinner so I can have a really fabulous dessert. So you can call me one of those people too. 🙂

  59. Melissa says:

    I would opt for the reduced fat cream cheese too, but last time I made a kugel I checked out all of the cream cheese options and picked a whipped cream cheese. It’s low fat but tastes like regular, must be like the slow churned ice cream. These bars are making me hungry; I love anything with a streusel topping!

  60. cquek says:

    The post tugged at my heart.

  61. Hannah says:

    Oh dear, I used to be one of the super-paranoid diet coke drinkers too, all while baking from noon to night. Solved that problem by giving up diet coke! 😉 But anyway, I can totally rationalize how healthy anything in, so agree with you- Apples = healthy! Thus, your cheesecake must make an excellent breakfast, the way I see it.

  62. Oh my goodness, the caramel sauce and the streusel topping and the cheesecake and apples! I’m that person who subs in a little whole wheat pastry flour in most baked goods for just a little nutritional boost (very little), so the low-fat cream cheese makes perfect sense.

  63. Beautiful and perfect for Fall. Maybe they’re like me. I order the diet coke only because I hate the taste of their regular coke. I believe it’s a corn syrup “thing”.

  64. Guilty as charged! Except my vice is diet nestea. Which I think will go fabulously with these bars don’t you think?? Where do you come up with this stuff…they look un-real!

  65. Elizabeth says:

    You knew my husband has to go into his office today and I was planning on baking while he was gone, didn’t you?

    I’m also totally a diet coke person. But it’s because I hate the taste of regular coke. Most regular pop, actually. Too syrup-y.

  66. Wow, nice. I feel like I might to go for a run…right after eating a bunch of these 🙂

  67. Chris says:

    I have been hooked on salted caramel for months now so yeah, I’d chow into this!

  68. Lori says:

    Ha, ha! Cream cheese in diet coke clothing! I hear you though. The days that I did eat that stuff (gagger now too) I was guilty. And we are sidewalk twins – cough, gag, excuse you! 🙂

  69. grace says:

    every element of these would be fine on its own, but together, you’ve created a masterpiece!
    diet coke is for the birds. 🙂

  70. yes!!! i do all of that. but i must say that on the rare occasion that i eat fast food and/or drink soda, it’s always with a diet coke. regular is just nasty. i know diet is bad for you but i like the taste better. 🙂 these bars sound incredible!!

  71. Julie says:

    OH my do these look good!!! You have the best recipes.

  72. Candace says:

    These look amazing!! Reduced fat cream cheese is my friend. 🙂

  73. teresa says:

    i am SO in love with this dessert! breakfast? yes please, and it probably won’t be just a little square.

  74. These look so unbelievably good, Joanne. I’m cracking up that you got low fat cream cheese. You are hilarious. 🙂 Love how comforting these look too. 🙂

  75. Cathleen says:

    Holy moly, I can’t tell you how much I want this right now. I would definitely call it a health food just so I can eat it without guilt. Hey, I can totally fool myself :p

  76. Nizz says:

    I also do that diet coke thing whenever I eat, either it is a salad or a big fat meal!
    Perfect pictures, I loved this recipe!!

  77. Barbara says:

    Butter and lo fat cream cheese? Funny. And you are so right about people ordering burgers and fries plus a diet coke. I asked once and was told they preferred the diet coke to regular. Whatever.
    These look super yummy….all that caramel oozing all over. OMG.

  78. Megan says:

    I fake cough when I walk past smokers too… and say “excuse you” to people taking up the whole sidewalk. Oh we are such pleasures! This dessert looks awesome. So perfect for fall!

  79. Shannon says:

    omg, salted caramel… drip! i am totally one of those people, too. i’m all for full fat if it’s worth it (fresh ricotta, gruyere, mozz), but cream cheese is not- reduced fat totally works 🙂

  80. Dining Alone says:

    Ok so I just posted about my cutting of carbs and sugar and all those lovely things that make me so very happy and then I come here and want to climb into my computer and eat this 🙂 I finally donated and you are OVER your amount, totally awesome.

  81. Reeni Pisano says:

    Heehee I do the same thing with the cream cheese! Wherever I can cut the fat without sacrificing flavor I do. I would totally not be able to resist these for breakfast if they were in my kitchen! Divine.

  82. Haha I always make fun of people who order diet coke with their supersized fast food combo but I do the reduced fat cream cheese thing too! Usually it’s less for my own sake though and more so I can convince other people that they’re good for you so they will help me eat it all!

  83. Cara says:

    I am that girl too 😉 I’m almost certain I’ve never bought a package of full fat cream cheese because reduced fat works just as well!

  84. Ha! That is one of the reasons I love you – I am also one of those fake cough hate walking by smokers people. I donated last week for your race but it may have gone through anonymously. Either way – I am just gald to help and love that you are doing it in honor of your Dad! xoxox

  85. Fruit, oatmeal and reduced fat dairy? Sounds like breakfast to me. 🙂 Yum!

  86. I love this so much! All the flavors of Autumn, snuggling so wonderfully together. Mmm, I’m just imagining what that caramel feels like or what that first bite tastes like!

  87. Hotly Spiced says:

    I love the flowing caramel on these. I’ll take two please xx

  88. Oh these look beyond delicious! I want to tell you how sorry I am about your grandmother. Sounds like she lived a long life and was a really unique person. You have had a lot to deal with and I pray that you are doing okay.

  89. I love that you threw in the reduced fat cream cheese in there at Whole Foods! As for these bars – AMAZING! That dripping caramel is just inviting me in. I really wish I had the pan in front of me because I would seriously eat every. single. bite.

  90. Karly says:

    Um, this is dangerous. Very, very dangerous.

  91. Yeah – you made your fundraising goal!! Great job Joanne!

  92. marla says:

    Pinned to my caramel Pinterest board – of course!

  93. Kerstin says:

    Ah, the perfect treats to celebrate apple season! You’re way past your fundraising goal now-yay!!

  94. elly says:

    Haha, I always buy the reduced fat cream cheese, too. When it’s loaded with sugar anyway, you really can’t tell the difference so you might as well save a *few* calories, right? 🙂 I’ve had some version of these saved forever, and I reaaaaally need to make them.

  95. Wow, I’m in love! I’m such a fan of cheesecake, but combined with apples and caramel, I’d have to eat every last one of these… I’m featuring this post as part of Food Fetish Friday (with a link-back and attribution) and thanks for making me drool!

  96. RecipeGirl says:

    You have made my day. Now I can dream and drool all day long!

  97. […] Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars by Joanne at Eats Well with Others – I’ve been wanting to gove these a try for months! […]

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