April 16, 2024

Mess or Success: Caramel apple cheesecake bars

In this week’s Mess or Success, Alley Loope tries one of her old Pinterest fails: caramel apple cheesecake bars.

//Photo by Alley Loope

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This week on Mess or Success, I decided it was time to revisit an old Pinterest fail of mine: caramel apple cheesecake bars.

I was watching Food Network once about three years ago and saw someone making a caramel apple cheesecake and thought I just HAD to try it. After searching through Pinterest for the perfect recipe, I found this one for some delicious-looking caramel apple cheesecake bars.

However, after spending about three hours in the kitchen and a lot of struggling, my bars turned out less than satisfactory, to put it lightly. They resembled a brown crumbly mix of apples and scrambled eggs. I’ve included photo evidence to show you just how truly tragic it really was.


So, after a few years of emotional healing from my terrible kitchen experience, I’m coming back with a vengeance. Using the exact same recipe, it’s time to find out if I’ve got what it takes to show these bars who’s boss, or if I’ll crash and burn just like the first go around.

You can find the original recipe here. //Photo by Alley Loope
You can find the original recipe here. //Photo by Alley Loope

Here’s what you’ll need.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
  • 2 sticks softened butter


  • 24 oz softened cream cheese (3 packs)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla


  • 3 Granny Smith apples
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons sugar


  • 1 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ instant oats
  • 1 stick softened butter
  • Caramel topping

To get started, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a 9×13 inch baking pan with aluminum foil.

For the crust, combine the flour and brown sugar in a bowl and cut in your stick of butter. If you possess zero baking skills like me, the term “cut in” might scare you. Don’t worry, though. There are plenty tutorials on YouTube that can help you out. If you’re super fancy and happen to have a pastry blender, use that and consider yourself lucky. However, if you’re just a lowly college student like me, you get to cut your butter in with two forks, which will take you forever and a day. Enjoy.

Once you’ve got a crumbly crust-like mixture, pour it into your baking pan and press it out evenly flat. Pop that in the oven for about 15 minutes.

For the cheesecake filling, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until it’s smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla, and then stir it all up. It may not look very promising at first, but just keep stirring. It’ll get there. Pour that in the pan and spread it out evenly over the crust.

Next, peel all of your apples and dice them up. Put them in a bowl and stir in the rest of the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour that over the filling.

//Photo by Alley Loope
Combine your brown sugar, flour, oats and butter to make the streusel topping.//Photo by Alley Loope

Lastly, combine your brown sugar, flour, oats and butter in a bowl. For this part, the easiest way to make sure it turns out like it’s supposed to is to just mix it all together with your hands. It should look like a crumbly streusel topping. Sprinkle that over the apples.

Stick all of that in the oven for about 40 minutes, then pull it out and drizzle the caramel on and you’re all set!

So, after hours of laboring over these and obsessively checking the oven just to make sure they were okay every five minutes, I’m pumped to say that these caramel apple cheesecake bars were…a (messy) success!

The final product is not another Pinterest fail. //Photo by Alley Loope
The final product is not another Pinterest fail. //Photo by Alley Loope

Every inch of me was covered in flour, and there might have been an unfortunate mishap with my electric mixer and some cream cheese, but aside from all of that, they actually resemble cheesecake bars and not scrambled eggs, and that says success to me!

Just a warning, they’re also really difficult to cut, so they may not look so great after you get them on the plate, but hey, they taste good and that’s what really matters here.

So, for all of you pro-Pinterest-failers out there, hopefully this will encourage you to find that one recipe that did you in once upon a time and try it again. You never know what might happen! And you’ll also potentially get the satisfaction of rubbing your tasty treats in everyone’s faces after your whole family made fun of your scrambled egg bars the last time…not that that happened to me or anything.

As always, you can find this recipe, and all of the others I’ve attempted thus far, on my special Mess or Success Pinterest board here.

That’s all for this week! Tune in next time for some potential baking fun with some of America’s favorite seasonal treats (and I’m definitely not talking about Girl Scout cookies hint hint).

Photos by Alley Loope

Edited by Taylor Owens

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Alley is a junior at UT majoring in journalism and electronic media. She has a passion for pop culture like no other and hopes to one day work on red carpets interviewing all of her favorite celebrities. When not writing for the Tennessee Journalist, you can probably find Alley live-tweeting award shows or sharing photos of her cat, Hedwig, on Twitter.