I noticed that we had some apples that were getting on 2 weeks old so I knew I had to use them up quickly (no one in my house even likes more-than-a-teensy-bit-ripe-fruit). Once it loses that not-quite-ripe-yet-tartness and crispness, no one will touch it. (except peaches - they only eat those so-ripe-they're-dripping).
So yesterday I googled "baked apple recipes." (Why not just bake an apple pie? you ask. How much more American does it get? The truth is, I don't like apple pie. In general. I don't like the consistency or mouth-feel of it. It's too much giant chunks of fruit to pastry - I'm a carb girl. I like the ratio with more bread to fruit.) Irrelevant aside over. I came across 5 possible contenders. I saved and printed them out and polled my father and sister after dinner. As my sister read the choices out loud my dad made the choice for us. She had barely finished saying, "Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Streusel Topping" when my dad goes "PERFECT!"
We went out to pick up some cream cheese and then got to work. I tweaked the recipe a little. I halved it (b/c our family can't eat 24 of these little goodies - we're just too Korean - we get tired of "bread"). And then decided to make them in a muffin tin pan because a) we don't have a square pan and b) they're easier to pack for lunch (my sister and I pack our lunches for work/school). The shortbread crusts still spread into 24 molds.
Our oven is a bit wonky and we found out it doesn't heat evenly (burned half the shortbread crusts). So then we were down to 13 molds. Which was fine b/c the cream cheese cheesecake part was WAAAYYY too little to spread into 24. (Weird b/c we halved the whole recipe - but then again, we didn't use a 9x13 pan). So to repeat: we halved the whole recipe. But the crust to filling ratio was off (wayyyy too much crust, not enough filling). It only coincidentally worked out because our oven burned half our crust.
We also probably used too much apple. Anyway, here's the finished product. We also didn't use the caramel topping. We're not fans of anything TOO sweet. I think it's quite perfect actually. The sweetness isn't overwhelming. The dryness of the shortbread is balanced by the moist cheesecake layer and the diced apple.
A side view: some of the crust has fallen away but the bottom layer is a shortbread crust, then cheesecake in the middle, then diced spiced apple cubes, topped with streusel.
(I had wanted to document the process but pretty much just laid down my phone on the table and then continued to go about baking and just ended up covering my phone in flour.)
Oh, also - how perfect is this? Before I actually gave my sister and dad the recipes to choose from, I asked my dad what his favorite baked goods are. He said "apple pie" and "cheesecake." So I'm really glad I found and made this Apple Cheesecake deliciousness.