Why is fall my favorite season? The food of course! I get so excited this time of year for the caramel apples, the pumpkin pie and just the delicious scent in my house from all the fall baking. It’s that time of year that you know you’ll need to get the big container of cinnamon because it’s going in everything.
Since caramel apples are one of the first things I crave this time of year I decided to combine them with another one of my favorite desserts, cheesecake! And this time we are going mini. They are easier to serve, they are better for portion control and really they’re just so much cuter.
Yes, the caramel sauce is definitely a must (and I’d say a generous amount) but if your not into the whole salted thang then just use the regular. And be sure to check out the link in the recipe for the salted caramel sauce recipe (which again, you can make unsalted) because it shows photos of all the stages of cooking caramel sauce so you’ll know what to watch for so it isn’t under-cooked/doesn’t burn.
- 10 graham crackers sheets, finely crushed (1 1/3 cups)
- 2 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup quick oats
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp packed light-brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 lb granny smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped*
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- Salted caramel sauce, homemade (recipe and tutorial here) or store bought
- For the crust:
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Pour in butter and using a fork, stir until evenly moistened. Divide mixture among 18 paper lined muffin cups, adding a rounded tablespoon to each cup. Press into an even layer. Bake in preheated oven 5 minutes, then remove from oven and allow to cool.
- For the streusel:
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, quick oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add cold butter and using fingertips, rub butter into dry mixture until it comes together it small crumbles and pieces of butter are no longer visible. Transfer to refrigerator while preparing apples and filling.
- For the filling:
- In a bowl, toss chopped apples with lemon juice, set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer set on medium-low speed, cream together cream cheese with sugar just until smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time, then blend in sour cream and vanilla.
- To assemble cheesecakes:
- Divide cheesecake batter evenly among 18 muffin cups pouring filing over crust (I used a 1/4 cup and filled it about 3/4 full). Divide apples evenly over cheesecake layer, then finish by sprinkling a heaping tablespoon of the streusel over tops. Bake in preheated oven 23 - 25 minutes. Cool at room temperature 30 minutes, then transfer to fridge and chill 3 hours. Serve with caramel sauce.
- *This is about 3 small granny smith apples. I recommend chopping very small so they can cook all the way through, almost mincing them (even smaller than that pictured because mine weren't quite tender all the way through).
- Recipe Source: Inspired by Paula Deen's Cheesecake Bars