These Duncan Hines Caramel Apple Cheesecake Cookie Bars are a mouthful and a delicious one at that. A snappy cookie crust, silky cream cheese filling, gooey cinnamon apples, and a cookie pecan crumble topping. Drizzle on some caramel and flaky sea salt...and oh, my word. YUM.
Bring on the cinnamon, apples, and caramel! It's time, don't you think?
So perfect for this time of year with summer winding down and fall just around the corner.
Duncan Hines helps take this crowd-pleasing treat over the top. It's so easy to put together with using the Mega Sugar Cookie Mix and Simply Apple Pie Filling. Just head down the baking aisle and grab the Duncan Hines, then on over to the dairy for the cream cheese. Easy!
OR - simply click on any image and link directly to the Duncan Hines website to order your products online. Even easier!
Homemade flavor with dependable and trustworthy ingredients. That's my kind of dessert. See my baking tips below to get the inside scoop.
Caramel Apple Cookie Bar Baking Tips:
Pre-cut your parchment paper to fit the width of your baking pan. It's not necessary to have all 4 sides covered, just 2 will do, but leave enough parchment to hang over the edge of the pan so you have handles to pull out the bars once they have cooled.
Using 2 boxes of the cookie mix works best for this recipe. Just follow the package directions, and also add cinnamon. Half of the mixture will be used for the crust, and the other ½ for the crumble topping. Though, when baking mine, I used slightly more than ½ for the crust, probably a few tablespoons extra. If you're using a 9x9" pan, you might need the extra, as well.
After you add the pecans to the reserved cookie mix (for the topping), it really helps to pop it in the freezer or refrigerator. When it's cold, it's firm, allowing you to break it apart to make a nice crumble consistency for the topping.
My cookie bars baked to a nice bubbly and caramelly consistency in about 40 minutes. They were still slightly blond on top and I wanted a tiny bit more color (but not too dark), so I put the pan on the top rack and let them go another 5 minutes. Perfect!
After it's baked, you can drizzle on the caramel while warm, then chill the bars (they need to chill a little while before slicing). Or, you can chill the bars, then drizzle on the caramel just before serving. It's up to you! I'll admit, I did a little bit of both.
I would recommend holding on the flaky sea salt until just before serving.
Thank you to Duncan Hines for this delicious collaboration!
Easy Duncan Hines Gooey Caramel Apple Cheesecake Cookie Bars
- 2 boxes Duncan Hines Mega Cookie Sugar Cookie Mix purchased (will be using half this mixture for the crust and ½ for the topping)
- 6 tablespoon butter melted
- 4 tablespoon water
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Cookie Crumble Topping
- ½ prepared cookie crust mixture as above
- ¼ cup roughly chopped pecans or walnuts
- 8 ounces cream cheese, completely softened
- ¼ cup sugar, white
- 1 egg, large or extra large
- 1 can Duncan Hines Simply Apple Pie Filling & Topping purchased
- ¼ cup jarred caramel sauce purchased
- pinch flaky sea salt optional
Preheat the oven & prepare the baking pan
- Heat oven to 350F degrees. Line an 8x8 or a 9x9 inch pan with parchment paper, allowing the parchment to come up over the sides of the pan in order to lift it out of the baking pan once the bars are baked & chilled. Lightly spray the bottom of the pan with non-stick spray, then line with parchment and lightly spray again.
Cookie Crust & Crumble
- Add the sugar cookie mix to a medium bowl (2 boxes) and prepare as directed on the box, using a total of 6 tablespoon of melted butter and 4 tablespoon water. (Reserve the Mega Cookie Mix rainbow sprinkles for another use).Add ¼ teaspoon cinnamon. Mix thoroughly with a spoon or spatula.
- In the bowl divide the cookie mixture roughly in half. You'll use ½ for the bottom crust and about ½ for the top cookie crumble.
- Press about half of the cookie mixture into your prepared pan, gently compacting evenly. I used a few tablespoons more of the mixture, so a little more than ½ for the bottom crust.Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 10 minutes. The crust will puff slightly while baking but will then sink, which is normal. It will be a light blond color and will not look quite done. It will finish baking with the filling. Allow to cool 10 minutes. While baking, prepare the Cookie Crumble Topping and Cream Cheese Filling.
Cookie Crumble Topping
- To the reserved cookie mixture add the chopped pecans (or walnuts) and combine. The mixture will be soft. Refrigerate or freeze while the crust is baking and cooling (a total of 20 minutes). This will stiffen up the crumble topping allowing you to break it into small pieces to crumble over the bars.
Cream Cheese Filling
- In a medium bowl beat the room temp, softened cream cheese with the sugar, and egg. Continue beating on medium-high, scraping down the sides until the mix increases a bit in volume and appears light and a bit fluffy. About 3 minutes. Set aside.
- Stir the Duncan Hines Apple Pie Filling to loosen the mixture.
- Spread the cream cheese mixture over the slightly cooled cookie crust, smoothing into the edges. Spoon in the apple pie filling, gently spreading over the entire surface but allowing some of the cheesecake filling to peek through. Break the cold cookie crumble & pecan topping into clumps, some small and some large, and sprinkle over the top of the apple filling, allowing some of the apples to peek through.
- Bake in the center of a preheated 350F degree oven for about 40 minutes or until the apples are bubbling and the cookie topping is slightly browning. Check it at the 30-minute mark to see how things are coming along. Adjust your baking time accordingly (oven temps can vary). Remove to a cooling rack and let cool 30 minutes. Drizzle with caramel sauce and chill.
- Run a dull-edged knife around the edges to loosen any sticky sections, then carefully pull the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper. Slice into squares. If desired sprinkle with flaky sea salt.Serve and refrigerate leftovers.
If you liked this fall recipe you might also like The Best Zucchini Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting