Today, I’m excited to share with you one of the most quintessentially fall recipes I have ever created. It’s got apples. It’s got maple syrup. It’s got pecans. It’s got gingersnaps. It does not have pumpkin, but there are more pumpkin recipes in the works, so worry not! I’ve been planning out the details of these apple maple pecan cheesecake bars ever since our trip to the apple orchard a few weeks ago, and they are everything I imagined they would be and more—your taste buds won’t be disappointed, I promise!
We went out to dinner directly before I made these bars, and armed with the knowledge that there was luscious, decadent cheesecake in my near future, I became one of those people. You know, the ones who substitute broccoli in place of French fries. On National Potato Day, no less.
It was so worth it.
These apple maple pecan cheesecake bars are a bit time-consuming—I won’t lie—but there’s nothing very complicated about any given step. First, you crush up some gingersnaps and make a crust, which goes into the oven for a few minutes. Next, you cook up a mixture of pecans and maple syrup and pour that on top of the gingersnap crust, and it goes back into the oven for a bit longer. Then, once the maple pecan layer has cooled, you sauté a bit of diced apple and whip up some no-bake cheesecake (which, by the way, is like heaven in a bowl), spread the cheesecake into an even layer on top of the pecans, pop the whole thing into the fridge, and you’re done!
See? Nothing too fancy. Once they’re chilled and cut into bars, however, they look pretty fancy, if I do say so myself!
And now I have a very important question for you: how do you pronounce the word “pecan”? Do you say pee-KAHN, pick-AHN, PEE-can, or PEE-kahn? According to a geographic study, as a native Californian, I most likely grew up pronouncing it pee-KAHN, but apparently I’ve lived in other regions of the country long enough that I now go back and forth between different pronunciations, sometimes even in the same conversation!
Luckily, these apple maple pecan cheesecake bars are ridiculously delicious no matter how you pronounce their name. After all, a rose by any other name…
- 8 ounces gingersnap cookies (I like Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Snaps)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 4 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped pecans (I used roasted and salted pecans)
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- 1 apple, peeled and diced
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- 3/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 package (8 ounces) light cream cheese, at room temperature
- 3/8 cup (1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing extra paper to extend up two sides. Coat the bottom and sides with baking spray.
- In a food processor, pulse the gingersnap cookies until they are finely and evenly ground. Add the melted butter and pulse until mixed. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan and press down firmly with your fingers. Bake the crust for 10 minutes.
- While the crust is baking, prepare the maple pecan filling. Melt 4 1/2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the brown sugar and maple syrup and stir until the brown sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring periodically. Once it has reached a boil, cook for 1 minute, then remove the pan from the heat.
- As soon as you remove the pan from the heat, add the heavy cream and stir until mixed. Stir in the chopped pecans. Once the crust is out of the oven, pour the pecan mixture over the crust and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Bake for 25 minutes. Once it is done baking, turn off the oven – you won’t need it for the cheesecake layer! Allow the maple pecan layer to cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.
- When the maple pecan layer is nearly cool, start to prepare the cheesecake filling. Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan or skillet. Mix the diced apple with the sugar and cinnamon, then sauté over medium heat until easily pierced with a fork, 5-10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Place 1 tablespoon cold water in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and set aside.
- Place 1/3 cup heavy cream in the bowl of a mixer. Whip until stiff peaks form, then transfer the whipped cream to another bowl. Place the room temperature cream cheese in the mixer bowl and beat until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and mix until it is fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Stir in the Greek yogurt and vanilla extract.
- Microwave the gelatin/water for 20-25 seconds (note: mine looked like the gelatin had absorbed all the water before I microwaved it, but the mixture turned to liquid again afterward). Stir the mixture for 1 minute, then let it sit for 2 minutes – if you leave it too long, it will start to congeal, and you don’t want that! Slowly stir the gelatin into the cream cheese mixture and stir until smooth. Gently fold in the whipped cream and sautéed apples until just combined. Spread the mixture evenly over the cooled maple pecan layer. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 3 hours or up to overnight. Once the bars are completely chilled, cut into 16 2-inch squares.