Apple Chai Cheesecake Bars are a great addition when you plan your fall desserts! This is an easy small batch recipe made in a loaf pan. Creamy cheesecake is baked on a shortbread cookie crust then topped with a Chai spice apple crumble. Finish it off with a caramel drizzle for a delicious fall dessert!
Cheesecake Bars For Fall
Everyone should have a good cheesecake bar recipe in their repertoire. Because cheesecake is a so versatile and can be made seasonal with just about any flavor.
That’s what we are doing with this recipe for Apple Chai Cheesecake Bars. We are adding some of the traditional warming spices for fall – cinnamon, allspice, and ginger. Then adding what may be my new favorite spice – cardamom. Cardamom has a delicious, yet complex flavor. It can come across as sweet, spicy, and citrusy. All of my favorite flavors.
Which leads us to what are all the flavors in Chai?
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What Are The Spices In Chai
First of all – actual Chai is a tea. So this makes it a morning beverage alternative to coffee. Either brewed like tea, or mixed with milk for a latte. But, we’re not talking about beverages right now …
Chai (authentic) is a black tea that is blended with spices:
For this recipe, I am taking the clove and nutmeg and replacing with allspice. The main reason – you get the flavors of cinnamon, clove, and a little peppercorn (in my opinion) in allspice. And nutmeg is picked up by the cardamom.
Also – trying to cut back on the number of ingredients. That said, you can certainly add in all of the spices of an authentic Chai!
Apple Chai Crumble Topping
We’ve talked about the chai spices. Having these spices in the crumble topping is nothing less than perfect. The crumble topping can be a dessert all by itself.
- Brown Sugar
- Chai Spices
Sounds like it would make a great cookie too! Hold on while I write that on my ‘recipes to make’ list …
Adding the apple chunks brings in another layer of flavor and texture. Apples can go in just about any dessert (makes sense when you can substitute applesauce for butter or eggs in baking). The great thing with apple chunks is you get the prominent flavor of apple, and the texture. Love it.
Cheesecake Made In A Loaf Pan
Let’s talk about the cheesecake now.
First – the cheesecake is baked on a shortbread cookie crust. I prefer a shortbread crust in a dessert bar because it is sturdy enough to handle the filling. And the texture contrast it offers against the creamy filling.
I chose a loaf pan to bake these bars because of the amount of filling. You could try a 6×6 inch square cake pan – just be aware the bars will probably come out pretty thick.
The cheesecake filling itself couldn’t be easier:
- Cream cheese
- Sour cream – for creaminess and a hint of tartness
- Egg – this acts as the binder when baking the cheesecake
- Powdered sugar – I like the added binder effect from powdered sugar
- Lemon juice – a touch more tartness (no – the filling is not overly tart!)
- Vanilla extract – to make it taste like a yummy cheesecake
All mixed together and that’s it. And you can see why cheesecake is such a versatile dessert. It is like a blank canvas to add a myriad of flavors!
Tips For Making Apple Chai Cheesecake Bars
- Bring all of the cold ingredients to room temperature – why? My non-scientific answer is everything mixes easier and when baking they all ‘meld-well’ together when they start out at the same temperature.
- Use a food processor to make the shortbread crust – if you have one – it’s just easier. If you don’t, a pastry cutter also works well – just takes a little longer.
- Cream the cream cheese and sour cream together first – mix until nice and creamy – we don’t want any cream cheese lumps!
- Get creative on the spices – try this recipe first (wink!) but then add your own spin! Some warm fall spices to the actual cheesecake filling; chocolate chips in the crumb topping with a chocolate swirl cheesecake; more spices in the shortbread crust. Just a few ideas for the next time …
Not going to lie – these recipes make me pretty excited Fall is on the way! 🙂
More Fall Dessert Recipe Ideas
- Pumpkin Pudding Napoleon Pastries
- Mini Apple Cider Cake
- Pumpkin Cupcakes with Whipped Ganache Frosting
- Baked Pumpkin Spice Donuts
- Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies
- Chocolate Butterscotch Pudding Parfait
Apple Chai Cheesecake Bars
- 1 – 9×5-Inch Loaf Pan
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup confectioner's (powdered) sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
Apple Crumble Topping
- 1/4 cup fresh apple, cut into cubes (I used Honeycrisp)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup rolled oats
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 tablespoon sour cream, room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon confectioner's (powdered) sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350o degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line a 9×5 loaf pan with a piece of parchment paper – cut long enough to overhang the sides of the pan.
- In a food processor, add all of the ingredients for the Shortbread Crust. Pulse a few times until the butter is in pea size pieces, and the dough starts to lump together. The dough will be crumbly. Note – if you don't have a food processor, you can mix the dough using a pastry cutter to 'cut' the butter into the flour. The dough will appear moist but still be crumbly.
- Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared loaf pan. You can use your fingers, or the bottom of a measuring cup.
- Bake the shortbread for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and rest the pan on a wire cooling rack.
Apple Crumble Topping
- Make the crumble topping and cheesecake filling while the shortbread is baking.
- In a small mixing bowl, add all of the ingredients for the Apple Crumb Topping. Mix with a fork, to break up and incorporate the butter. Or you can use a pastry cutting to 'cut' in the butter. The topping will be crumbly. Set aside.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 325o degrees.
- In a small mixing bowl, add the cream cheese and sour cream. Use a hand held mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the egg, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Continue to beat on medium-low speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Sprinkle in the powdered sugar and beat on low speed until all of the sugar has been incorporated and the filling is smooth.
- Pour the filling on top of the pre-cooked shortbread crust. Then, evenly sprinkle the Apple Crumb Topping on top of the cheesecake filling.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean, and still has a little cheesecake residue on it. Cool the cheesecake in the pan set on a wire cooling rack, to room temperature. Then chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving. This recipe will make 4 good sized bars, or you can cut into smaller portions. I recommend keeping leftovers in the refrigerator.