With Cinco de Mayo just days away, I vote we take the rest of the week off and start the celebration early. If that’s not an option, I have cinnamon caramel cheesecake bars for you as a consolation prize. My go-to graham crust is topped with creamy cinnamon cheesecake filling and swirls of salted caramel sauce – I’m calling this the cheesecake of my dreams.
Cinnamon Caramel Cheesecake Bars
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
- 2 Tbsp heavy cream
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 cup graham flour
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
- 6 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup Salted Caramel Sauce
- For the sauce, combine brown sugar, butter, and heavy cream in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until butter has melted completely. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and sea salt until smooth. Pour sauce into a small glass measuring cup to cool.
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Whisk together flours, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Combine melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add flour mixture and fold in until incorporated. Press dough evenly into bottom of prepared baking pan and bake for 18 minutes, until lightly golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely and reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
- Place cream cheese, yogurt, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and egg in food processor; process until smooth. Spoon cream cheese mixture over cooled crust and spread evenly. Dollop caramel sauce by teaspoons over cream cheese layer and swirl together with a toothpick or wooden skewer; gently tap pan once to remove air bubbles. Bake for 30 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack; cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 3 hours. Just before cutting, chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
- Carefully lift parchment and place bars on a cutting board; use a sharp knife to trim away raised edges, then cut into squares. Store leftover squares in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 days.