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Apple Streusel Cheesecake Bars

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The Husband: "This is the best thing you've ever made!"
Me: "Out of everything I've ever made? Are you serious?"
The Husband: "One of the best. Right up there with Smith Island cake."

Well that tells it all. The Smith Island cake that the Husband is referring to is this 8 layer master piece and it is his favorite. I make it for his birthday and for Christmas. That's it. So for something to rival that, well, that's a pretty big darn deal.

It's football season and in case you didn't know, we love everything about it in this house.  For the past month or two, I've been on the look out for great tailgating recipes.  I came across this gem on Pinterest.  It (a recipe originally from Betty Crocker that she adapted) comes from the blog Grin and Bake It and it is an absolute winner. 

The bottom layer is like and oatmeal cookie, minus the raisins.  The middle layer is creamy cheesecake. And then there is the top layer.  The top layer, which is Grin & Bake It's big modification is what makes this dessert.  It is buttery, sugary, cinammony goodness.  It is streusel, and it is divine. 

These are a little time consuming. But after tasting them and seeing the reaction of everyone at our tailgate, there is no question that the time and effort are so worth the result.

A few notes:
- I used reduced fat cream cheese in place of regular cream cheese.
- The streusel topping makes a lot. I got worried and didn't use all of it, throwing some of it away.  If I had to redo, I would use all of it!!!
- I used closer to 3/4 of a teaspoon of cinnamon (recipe calls for 1/2 tsp).  If you like the taste of cinnamon, use a little more. If not, leave as the recipe directs.

Apple Streusel Cheesecake Bars

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) oatmeal cookie mix
1/2 cup firm butter or margarine, cold
2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 can (21 oz) apple pie filling
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*See Streusel ingredients below

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom and sides of 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray.

Place cookie mix in large bowl. With pastry blender or fork, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly and coarse. Reserve 1 1/2 cups crumb mixture (to use for streusel recipe below); press remaining crumbs in bottom of pan. Bake 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, flour, vanilla and egg with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over partially baked crust. In medium bowl, mix pie filling and cinnamon. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture.

Streusel Topping
1 1/2 cups reserved crumb mixture from crust
1 cup cold, salted butter
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 3/4 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla

In large bowl with electric mixer combine, reserved crumbs from crust, butter, flour, cinnamon, brown sugar, and vanilla until all crumbly. Break crumb topping into marble size pieces with fingers, sprinkling over top of apple filling.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes longer or until light golden brown. Cool about 30 minutes. Refrigerate to chill, about 2 hours. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.

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