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These No-Bake Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bars are a rich, decadent dessert that tastes heavenly. Made with a buttery graham cracker crust and a cheesecake filling that is smooth and creamy, this no-bake cheesecake will become your new favorite dessert!
This post is sponsored by Karo® Corn Syrup. All opinions are 100% my own. Thanks for continuing to support the brands that help make ‘Mike Bakes NYC’ possible!
Table of contents
No-Bake Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bars
A slice of luxuriously rich cheesecake has become one of my favorite guilty pleasures, but despite this love of cheesecake, I rarely make cheesecake at home, because it can be a bit fussy. These no-bake salted caramel cheesecake bars, however, are a completely different story. You get all the great flavor of cheesecake without the fuss of making a big cheesecake. Total game-changer.
My secret ingredient? Karo® Light Corn Syrup! I use it in the graham cracker crust, the cheesecake, and the salted caramel. I absolutely love Karo® Corn Syrup because it’s not overpoweringly sweet, but it provides sweetness AND moisture in your baked (or unbaked) goods. For these no-bake cheesecake bars, it provides a subtle sweetness and smooth texture to the cheesecake, it helps control sugar crystallization in the caramel, and it adds a sweetness that helps bind the graham cracker crust together; you really just can't go wrong here!
Ingredients for No-Bake Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bars
These no-bake salted caramel cheesecake bars are surprisingly simple to make; here's what you'll need:
- Karo® Light Corn Syrup: You'll use it for the salted caramel, graham cracker crust, and cheesecake filling!
- Sugar: You'll need granulated sugar for the salted caramel, and just a bit of powdered sugar for the cheesecake filling.
- Water: To make the salted caramel!
- Unsalted butter: For both the salted caramel and graham cracker crust.
- Heavy cream: For the salted caramel!
- Vanilla extract / vanilla bean paste: A little for the salted caramel and some for the cheesecake!
- Fine sea salt: Desserts made without salt can sometimes taste a little plain, so don't forget it! You'll need it for the caramel, the graham cracker crust, and the cheesecake filling.
- Graham crackers: It is a graham cracker crust, after all... Replace with an equal amount of digestive biscuits if you can't get your hands on graham crackers!
- Light brown sugar: For the crust!
- Powdered gelatin: This is what we'll use to help set our cheesecake!
- Cream cheese: Can't make cheesecake without cream cheese! Make sure it's properly softened so you don't have any lumps in your cheesecake bars.
How to Make No-Bake Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bars
There are three main components to these delicious no-bake salted caramel cheesecake bars.
1. Salted Caramel
It's important to make the salted caramel first in this recipe so it has time to cool down before you mix it with the cheesecake filling! The first three ingredients for the caramel are granulated sugar, Karo® Light Corn Syrup, and water which gets brought to a boil over medium-high heat. The Karo® Corn Syrup provides a touch of extra sweetness and also helps prevent crystallization; talk about a win-win! Once the sugar has melted and the mixture has boiled long enough, it will turn amber in color, and then cubed butter is carefully added, followed by the heavy whipping cream. After you stir for a minute or two, you add the salt & vanilla, and then you're done. The most amazing salted caramel sauce with such a smooth, buttery flavor; it's basically liquid gold!
2. Graham Cracker Crust
To make the buttery graham cracker crust, start by grinding up your graham crackers, light brown sugar, and salt using either a food processor or blender. You need 18 full sheets of graham crackers; 18 full sheets = about 3 cups of graham cracker crumbs. Don’t have graham crackers where you live? (I’m looking at you, UK readers!) Use 300 grams of crushed digestive biscuits instead.
Mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter and the Karo® Light Corn Syrup and stir it all together. I like to use a little bit of Karo® Corn Syrup in my graham cracker crust because it’s the perfect sweetener to help bind together a buttery graham cracker crust. Corn syrup isn’t overly sticky and the flavor is mild, perfectly complementing the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter!
Once you mix the crust ingredients all up, the mixture will be thick, sandy, and coarse and you're ready to press it into your prepared pan! Once firmly pressed in, you'll refrigerate the crust while you prepare the cheesecake filling; this ensures a stable bottom rather than a crust that is too crumbly and falls apart.
3. No-Bake Cheesecake Filling
They wouldn’t be cheesecake bars without a delicious cream cheese filling! What I love is that you can make these completely by hand or use a hand/stand mixer if you have one; whatever you prefer! To make the cheesecake layer, you'll start by combining some powdered gelatin and heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat until the gelatin is melted, then set it aside. Next, you'll whip some heavy cream up until medium peaks are achieved. Then, you'll beat together the cream cheese, Karo® Light Corn Syrup, some of the salted caramel, powdered sugar, vanilla bean paste, and salt until smooth. Normal cheesecake usually calls for granulated sugar which will dissolve as it bakes. But in no-bake cheesecake, those granules can leave you with a gritty cheesecake. Using a combination of powdered sugar and Karo® Light Corn Syrup makes for a silky smooth texture and the perfect amount of sweetness!
After you've combined all of the key cheesecake ingredients together, you'll beat in the gelatin and cream mixture and pour the filling on top of the slightly chilled crust. Then dollop the remaining salted caramel over the top of the cheesecake batter and swirl with a knife. The hardest part of making this recipe is waiting for the cheesecake to chill and set, honestly! But oh, is it worth it!
No-Bake Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bars Recipe Troubleshooting & FAQ
NO-BAKE SALTED CARAMEL CHEESECAKE BARS: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I bake the graham cracker crust and chill it before adding the filling?
Unfortunately, no! No-bake truly means you do not have to bake the dessert. Trying to bake the graham cracker crust will make for a soggy crust, as this crust has more fat than a traditional baked crust would. Trying to use a baked crust (even one with less butter) means your filling will ooze into the crust and make it soggy.
Can I make these no-bake salted caramel cheesecake bars ahead of time?
Of course! In fact, you kinda have to! While these no-bake cheesecake bars don’t require any time in the oven, they do need some time in the fridge. Your cheesecake will need at least 3 hours to set before you can slice it and serve it up, so you’ll probably want to make it the day before you plan on serving it! You can even make it up to 3 days before... just make sure you cover it tightly with plastic wrap or tin foil to prevent the cheesecake from drying out developing a weird film on top.
Can I use storebought whipped cream instead of making my own from scratch for the cheesecake filling?
In theory, yes... but I haven't tried it myself so I can't advise you on how much to use! I don't ever use storebought whipped cream because homemade whipped cream truly tastes better and is thicker & creamier. Also, you need heavy cream to melt the powdered gelatin in... so you might as well just use it for the filling too!
How long will these no-bake salted caramel cheesecake bars last?
As long as you keep the cheesecake bars covered tightly, they will last 5-7 days in the fridge. They are perfect for making ahead of time for parties and events. Or you can just enjoy them all week long.
NO-BAKE SALTED CARAMEL CHEESECAKE BARS: TROUBLESHOOTING
Help! My cheesecake has lumps of cream cheese in it! What did I do wrong?
Sounds like your cream cheese wasn't softened enough! Room temperature cream cheese becomes creamier when it's mixed and it incorporates much better with the other ingredients in this recipe. If your cream cheese is too cold, it tends to stay lumpy in the batter and doesn't fully mix!
Help! My cheesecake is soft and not holding its shape when sliced! What did I do wrong?
These no-bake cheesecake bars need proper chilling, a minimum of three hours but preferably overnight, to set into sliceable sections. Don't attempt to rush the chill process either; freezing the cheesecake results in a too-hard-to-enjoy crust and filling!
Help! My salted caramel has chunks of caramel in it! What did I do wrong?
After you add the butter and the heavy cream, the sauce should be smooth and creamy. If there are chunks of caramel, don't fret! Just return the pan to low heat and stir occasionally until the sauce is smooth, then remove from the heat.
No-Bake Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bars
For the Salted Caramel (yield: ~285g/10 tbsp):
- 150 g granulated sugar
- 42 g Karo® Light Corn Syrup
- 30 g water
- 60 g unsalted butter
- 60 g heavy cream
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
For the Graham Cracker Crust:
- 300 g graham cracker crumbs approximately 18 full-sheet graham crackers
- 110 g light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 115 g unsalted butter melted
- 42 g Karo® Light Corn Syrup
For the No-Bake Cheesecake:
- 8 g powdered gelatin (1 packet)
- 420 g heavy cream divided
- 450 g cream cheese softened
- 85 g Karo® Light Corn Syrup
- 285 g salted caramel divided
- 60 g powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
To Make the Salted Caramel:
- Combine the sugar, Karo® Light Corn Syrup, and water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring before it comes to a boil to help dissolve the sugar but stopping once it starts to boil.150 g granulated sugar, 42 g Karo® Light Corn Syrup, 30 g water
- Continue to boil the syrup until it becomes a medium amber color. Once the syrup starts to color, tilt the pan occasionally—it’s easier to see the true color of the caramel when you’re looking at less of it (otherwise it may seem darker than it really is).
- As soon as the caramel is close to medium amber, turn off the heat—the caramel will retain heat and continue to cook, so you want to allow for the carry-over cooking. Add the butter and stir gently to combine.60 g unsalted butter
- Carefully stir in the cream—the caramel is likely to bubble up and steam a lot; just keep stirring and it will die down. The caramel should be smooth and creamy.60 g heavy cream
- Stir in the salt and vanilla extract. Let cool to room temperature. The sauce may firm up as it sits. If necessary, rewarm the sauce in 15-second bursts in the microwave to make it more fluid.¾ teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
To Make the Graham Cracker Crust:
- Line a 9 x 9–inch (22 x 22–cm) pan with parchment paper, extending the parchment paper over the sides to form a sling. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the graham crackers, light brown sugar, and salt until the crackers resemble fine crumbs. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and Karo® Light Corn Syrup and mix to combine; it should have the consistency of wet sand.300 g graham cracker crumbs, 110 g light brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Pour the crust into the prepared pan and pat it down until smooth using the bottom of a flat glass or a measuring cup, ensuring that it is an even thickness. Place the crust in the fridge while you prepare the cheesecake filling.115 g unsalted butter, 42 g Karo® Light Corn Syrup
To Make the No-Bake Cheesecake Filling:
- In a small saucepan over low heat, dissolve the gelatin in ½ cup (120 g) of heavy cream. Set it aside.8 g powdered gelatin, 420 g heavy cream
- In a large bowl using a whisk, whip the remaining 1¼ cups (300 g) of heavy cream until medium peaks form. Transfer it into a separate bowl and set aside.420 g heavy cream
- In the same bowl used to whip the heavy cream (there’s no need to wash it), beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the Karo® Light Corn Syrup, 7 tablespoon (175 g) of salted caramel, powdered sugar, vanilla bean paste and salt and beat to incorporate, then add the gelatin and cream mixture and mix well.450 g cream cheese, 85 g Karo® Light Corn Syrup, 285 g salted caramel, 60 g powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Using a spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Spoon the filling over the prepared crust, tapping to remove any bubbles, then spread with an offset spatula.
- Evenly distribute the remaining salted caramel over the surface of the filling, and gently swirl a skewer or toothpick through to make a marbled effect.
- Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 3 hours or until set. Using the parchment paper as a sling, remove the cheesecake from the pan. Cut into squares using a knife that has been run through hot water and then dried before cutting. Cover and store leftover bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days.
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