Caramel Cream Cheese Bars

I’ve been floundering a bit in the kitchen the last few weeks. I want to bake, but I don’t have any real plan. I think I spent so much time during the holidays planning what to bake that my brain is shunning that kind of activity.

These bars went through quite an identity crisis before I got to the finished product. I made the shortbread crust with the intention of an entirely different topping. But, once I got the crust in the oven, I kept changing my mind about what should go on top.

After a lot of wavering, I added a thin layer of caramel, a sweet cream cheese mixture, and topped it all with some pecans and toffee bits. I have to say that worked out quite well.

Caramel Cream Cheese Bars | Bake or Break

Bars have long been one of my favorite things to bake. Add in layers, and I’m positively giddy. Pecans and toffee? Cream cheese, too? I was immediately smitten.

These bars are so adaptable, too. They would be just lovely with chocolate crust, too. If you want to go that route, I might suggest doubling the crust from this recipe. If you prefer a different kind of nut on top, you can easily make that change. Or, leave off the nuts altogether. Maybe drizzle each serving with a little chocolate sauce. It’s hard to go wrong!

Caramel Cream Cheese Bars

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Yield: 24 2-inch bars

Caramel Cream Cheese Bars

Ingredients

    For the crust:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • For the caramel:
  • 9 ounces soft caramels*
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • For the cream cheese filling:
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup toffee bits

Instructions

To make the crust:

Preheat oven to 325°. Grease a 9"x13" baking pan.

Place flour, butter, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until combined and a dough forms.

Press dough evenly into bottom of prepared pan.

Bake 25 minutes, or until the crust is beginning to brown. Set aside to cool completely.

To make the caramel layer:

Unwrap caramels and place in a microwave-safe bowl along with the cream. Heat in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until caramels are melted. Stir until smooth.

Spread caramel evenly over cooled crust, leaving a small border around the edges (1/4 to 1/2 inch). Set aside until caramel has cooled and is firm. Or, place in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to chill and set.

To make the cream cheese filling:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.

Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over caramel.

Sprinkle with pecans and toffee bits.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until set. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Notes

*I used Werther's Baking Caramels.

Crust recipe adapted from Caramel Popcorn Shortbread Brownies. Cream cheese filling recipe adapted from Cream Cheese and Oat Bars.

http://www.bakeorbreak.com/2014/01/caramel-cream-cheese-bars/

14 Comments

  1. Debra January 7, 2014 Reply

    Jennifer, these look divine! I will have to try them.

  2. Ellen@BakeItWithBooze January 7, 2014 Reply

    Yep, I’m positive that we are baking BFFs! These sound and look amazing. I’m making your bourbon cream cheese brownies next, then on to this one and any of your caramel creations. :)

  3. Sarah Toasty January 7, 2014 Reply

    I am obsessed with cheesecakes, love the addition of the toffee bit! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Chryssie G January 7, 2014 Reply

    These look amazing Jennifer but i was wondering what i could use instead of toffee bits – they aren’t readily available in Australia

    • Author
      Jennifer McHenry January 7, 2014 Reply

      Hi, Chryssie. If you have toffee candy bars available, you can chop one of those to use. If not, I would just use more nuts.

  5. Joanne January 7, 2014 Reply

    Well it looks like your gut instinct led you to something amazing!!

  6. Carmel and cream cheese??? Pinned. :)

  7. tahnycooks January 8, 2014 Reply

    Caramel and cream cheese?! Yes, Please!!! Winner winner! Happy New Year!

  8. Ruthy @ Omeletta January 8, 2014 Reply

    I’ve felt the same lately on the baking and cooking end of things! making such grand plans for the kitchen in November and December kind of fried my brain a bit for January. Looks like you recovered pretty dang well, though :)

  9. Cookbook Queen January 8, 2014 Reply

    If this is what you come up with when you are out of ideas, I think I need you in MY kitchen!!

  10. Kaitlin Weiler January 14, 2014 Reply

    These look amazing! Almost like turtle cheesecake. My dad has been searching for a recipe for a longest time, so I will have to give these a try!

  11. Sarah G January 28, 2014 Reply

    These look absolutely amazing! Definitely on my list of things to bake

  12. Michelle February 9, 2014 Reply

    About how much caramel do you get from the 9 caramels? I have homemade caramel on hand that I’d like to use. Can’t wait to try!

    • Author
      Jennifer McHenry February 10, 2014 Reply

      Hi, Michelle! The 9 ounces of caramel plus the cream will yield about 1 cup of caramel sauce.

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