This Cheesecake Bars recipe is the ultimate perfection of nutty shortbread crust, creamy cheesecake filling, and salty/sweet caramel topping. It’s perfect for entertaining, special occasions/holidays, or even to park in the freezer for those days when you just need a yummy treat.
Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bars … like come on! A dreamy combination of nutty shortbread crust, creamy silky smooth cheesecake, and a sweet and salty caramel that is totally addicting and I’m on board with!
I made this Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bars recipe from Oh Sweet Day! by Fanny Lam with permission from Cedar Fort Publishing. Oh Sweet Day! was scheduled to be our next cookbook club book and then Covid-19 hit. And hit hard as we all know.
While we’re unable to meet as a club. I’ve been working my way through Oh Sweet Day! from Fanny’s Rocky Road Rice Crispy Treats to these cheesecake bars. My kids adored the Rice Crispy treats in addition to anything else we made.
Other highlights brought forward to me from other cookbook club members included the Cardamom Pistachio Donuts (occasionally tossed in sugar for a quicker preparation), the Brioche Cinnamon Wreath, and the “Love Someone Banana Bread” (place the cut bananas on top halfway through the cooking process to prevent them from sinking).
I’ve got my eye on the Honey Whole Wheat Loaves and Oh Sweet Day!’s Famous Shortbread Tartlets to make next. Have you made either? Any favourites out there?
You might be wondering how to make cheesecake bars from scratch. Yup, there’s cream cheese in here and it’s baked in the traditional fashion of a low temperature oven to obtain that silky cheesecake consistency.
From there any additional flavouring can be taken on any adventure you see fit. Here vanilla is used so that the pecan shortbread curst and salty caramel topping can be complimented as oppose to being overwhelmed.
I made a few adjustments to Oh Sweet Day!‘s recipe … mostly a few time saving techniques since I’m at home with all 3 kids during Covid-19 and life seems to get hairy quickly if I even attempt to do much beyond caring for and entertaining my kiddos.
I am a pro at Go Fish! and Sleeping Queens, if only my 4 year old would stop cheating at it 😉
What are sea salt flakes? They’re crystal flakes of sea salt that lend themselves to incredible taste and presentation. They’re not bitter like regular table salt, but rather give a clean salt flavour that compliments desserts nicely.
I also like sea salt flakes on fresh chopped tomato salads or even avocado toasts. The flakes give great balanced flavour and some added texture.
How do you even begin to cut a cheesecake bar with a topping?!!! I did so much research and trail and error you guys.
Finally discovered that placing toothpicks in measured locations (2″ apart here) and using a bench scraper (in photo above) was the best option.
If the caramel topping has firmed up too much, use a serrated knife for the topping and a bench scraper for the remainder. Be sure to clean the knife or bench scraper after every slice.
How do you know when cheesecake bars are done cooking? Like any cheesecake bars recipe, this one is done in stages. First the crust is baked and cooled, then topped with the cheesecake filling, cooled again, and topped with a salted caramel topping.
To ensure the cheesecake filling is “done”, you want the outer edges to be puffed up and the inside still a bit jiggly before letting the cheesecake completely cool. This will allow the cheesecake filling to firm up and will look more like the traditional cheesecake by the time it’s done cooling.
More inspiring cheesecake bars recipes:
And if you’re feeling ambitious, this No-Bake Rhubarb Cheesecake would be amazing in bar form.
Creamy cheesecake with a pecan studded shortbread crust and a salty sweet caramel topping.
- 2/3 cup pecans*
- 6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp, all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup cream cheese
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract OR vanilla bean paste
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tsp flaky sea salt, divided
Preheat oven to 350° F. Line an 8 x 8" baking pan with parchment paper (slings**) and grease or spray with non-stick spray.
In a food processor, add pecans, butter, flour, sugar, and salt. Process on high until mixture resembles wet sand. Press mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan***.
Bake the crust for at least 15 minutes, I was closer to 25 minutes before the crust was a nice golden brown. Let the crust cool completely (leave crust in the pan).
Immediately lower oven temperature to 250° F.
In the (cleaned) food processor, mix together cream cheese, sour cream, and sugar until completely smooth.
Add eggs, one at a time, and blend until well mixed. Add vanilla and salt and mix until well blended.
Pour cheesecake mixture over cooled crust and tap on counter to release any large air bubbles. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the edges of the cheesecake puff up slightly and the middle section is still quite jiggly.
Turn off oven AND leave oven door open slightly (a inch or two will do), and let cheesecake cool, at least one hour.
Refrigerate cheesecake overnight.
Cook the sugar and water over medium-low heat until sugar is dissolved.
Add butter and let mixture come to a boil. Continue to cook at a boil until mixture turns a golden brown / caramel colour****.
Remove pan from heat and whisk in whipping cream slowly. Whisk in 1 tps flaky sea salt.
Let cool to room temperature.
Pour caramel over top of cooled cheesecake and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Release cheesecake from pan and cut into squares. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp of flaky sea salt if desired.
* Fanny calls for the pecans to be toasted and chopped for this recipe. I'm lazy like that and didn't toast mine and still found that their flavour came through and complimented the shortbread texture nicely.
** have enough overhang on either 2 sides or all 4 sides of parchment paper so that you can easily lift up the cheesecake bars once the baking process is done.
*** I used my hands and then I pressed the mixture into an even layer by using the base of a 1 cup measuring cup.
**** if mixture seizes at all, continue to whisk until the liquid texture returns.
***** if you wish to freeze the cheesecake bars, place the cut bars, separated, onto parchment paper and freeze. Then place in a freezer-proof container or bag until you want snag one 😉