Today Emma Drennan made some delicious gluten free cheesecake bars. This is perfect for the fall because this season is all about apples, cinnamon, and caramel.  This recipe brings these yummy flavors and melds them into a beautiful Carmel Apple Streusel Cheesecake Bar.  This is the perfect dessert to serve at your next party. 

Yield: 30 servings 


Filling Layer: 

  • 3 8oz packages of Light Cream Cheese, softened 
  • ½ C sugar 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 tsp vanilla 

Apple Layer: 

  • 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and VERY thinly sliced 
  • ½ tsp cinnamon 
  • ⅛ tsp nutmeg 
  • ½ fresh lemon, juiced 

Crust Layer: 3 C Gluten Free all-purpose flour blends ½ tsp xanthan gum Pinch of sea salt 

½ C brown sugar, packed 1 C butter (2 sticks) cold, cut into chunks 4-5 TBSP ice water 

Streusel Layer: 

  • 1 C brown sugar, packed 
  • 1 C Gluten Free all-purpose flour blend 
  • ½ C Gluten Free Quick Oats 
  • ½ C butter (1 stick), cold, cut into chunks 
  • Caramel topping (you can make my homemade recipe-see bottom of recipe, or purchase store bought) 


For this recipe it is important to make things in order.  Otherwise, by the time the crust comes out of the oven, you won’t be ready to add the layers and put it back in the oven.  This dessert can also be made the night before you need to serve it.  It is best served very cold and keeps well in the fridge for several days. 

  1. If you are going to use my homemade caramel sauce, which I HIGHLY recommend, make that first.  This will take about 20-25 minutes and you will need to cool for a while before you put it on the dessert. 
  1. Make the Filling layer: In a large glass bowl, blend the cream cheese and sugar well with a hand mixer until smooth.  Then add the eggs, one at a time, and mix.  Cover and set the filing aside in the refrigerator until ready. 
  1. Make the Apple Layer: In a large bowl, place cinnamon, nutmeg, and fresh lemon juice.  Stir.  Peel apples and core them.  Then with a sharp butcher knife, slice them VERY thin.  Place them in the bowl and you get them sliced.  Then stir to coat.  When these are all ready, cover and put in the refrigerator until ready. 
  1. Make the Crust Layer: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare your plan.  Get a cookie sheet, place a silicone mat on top, and grease the edges of the pan with butter.  Set it aside. 
  1. In a very large glass bowl, mix flour, xanthan gum, sea salt, and brown sugar.  Add in chunks of cold butter, and using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the mixture.  This should only take a few minutes, but you want this to resemble coarse crumbs when finished.  You need the chunks of butter to still be visible, as they create the texture we want as they melt in the oven. 
  1. Then just as you would for a pie crust, slowly add about 2-3 TBSP of cold ice water and gently mix with a fork.  Test if the crumbly mixture can hold together by grabbing some of the dough and squeezing it together in your hand.  If it holds together, you don’t need any more water.  If it is still too crumbly, add 1-2 more TBSP of the ice water.  Then test again.  It is important to not add too much water.  We want the dough to stick together when squished in our hand, but still be able to crumble somewhat as we rub it out of our hand, and still retain some butter chunks. 
  1. Press dough into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until LIGHTLY browned.  Gluten free flour doesn’t brown like typical flour, so it’s still ready when there is very minimal browning. 
  1. Make the Streusel Layer: While the crust is baking, in a large glass bowl, add the flour, brown sugar, and oats.  Mix well.  Place cold butter chunks in the crust and using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture.  If you don’t have a pastry cutter, you can use a food processor, or even your fingers.  I usually finish up with my fingers to make sure the butter is evenly distributed, but not too squished. 
  1. When the crust is done, remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before placing the filling on top. 
  1. Gently spread the cheesecake filling on top of the crust.  This will be a thin layer over the entire crust.  As it cooks, it will puff up. 
  1. Then place the slices of apples in a single layer across the filling layer.  You can double layer a little bit, but mostly you are wanting a single layer.  You may have a few apple slices left over. 
  1. Add your streusel topping by sprinkling over the apples.  Then put it back in the oven to bake for 30 more minutes.  Leave the dessert in the oven, but turn the oven off, and turn on LOW BROIL.  Broil for 2 minutes- only 2 minutes.  This crisps up the top and gives it a golden-brown color.  Again, with gluten free flour, we often don’t get that true golden browning, so this helps our flour/sugar topping to achieve that golden color. 
  1. Remove from oven to a cooking rack and let the dessert cool for about 10 minutes.  Then top with caramel topping by gently drizzling the caramel.  Now you don’t want your caramel piping hot, but it does need to be warm to drizzle nicely.  Too warm and it will spread all over instead of staying in the drizzle lines. 
  1. Continue cooling to room temperature before covering with plastic wrap and placing in the refrigerator.  If you don’t let it cool enough before placing it in the refrigerator, you will get condensation on your plastic wrap, and then that will alter your topping in a negative way.  Sometimes I will even cool it in the fridge for 20 minutes or so without plastic wrap just to make sure I won’t get any condensation. 
  1. Cut into squares and serve at your next family party, baby or bridal shower, or any time you need a beautiful dessert that serves many people. 
  1. Yields about 30 squares. 

Homemade Caramel Sauce 

Yield: 1 Quart 


1 C butter 

2 C brown sugar 

1 C Karo light corn syrup 

1 can sweetened and condensed milk 

1 tsp vanilla 


  1. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, add the butter and melt.  When it is half-way melted, add in brown sugar, and stir well. 
  1. Add Karo syrup and it’s still well. Then bring to a boil. This should take 7-10 minutes. Make sure you are stirring slowly. Once it comes to a RAPID boil, take out the spoon and let boil for 15 seconds. NO LONGER! 
  1. Quickly stir in the can of sweetened and condensed milk. Stir very well to make sure it is well incorporated. Then bring the sauce back up to BARELY a boil. Then remove from heat. 
  1. Then add the vanilla and stir while gazing at the beautiful color of your caramel. Grab some apple slices, close your eyes, and picture what heaven might look like. 


Store in a glass container or jar with a lid in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.  To re-heat, scoop some out into a microwave safe bowl.  This can be a little tricky because once it’s cooled, it is very sticky of course.  I usually use two metal spoons to spoon into a bowl.  Then depending on how much caramel you need to warm up, I recommend just 10-15 seconds, stir, and then see how much more time you need. 

For these recipes check out the links.  

Homemade caramel sauce 

GF cheesecake bars