Easy Duncan Hines Gooey Caramel Apple Cheesecake Cookie Bars
Easy Caramel Apple Cookie Bars with Duncan Hines! A snappy sugar cookie crust, with a silky cheesecake filling, piled high with cinnamon apples, then topped with a cookie pecan crumble, and drizzled with caramel.
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.