No-Bake Caramel Apple Delight

published Sep 17, 2023
Apple Delight Recipe

Packed with five creamy layers of spiced apples, cream cheese, fluffy whipped cream and sweet caramel, this no-bake dessert will make everyone forget all about pie.

Serves9

Prep35 minutes

Cook1 minute

Jump to Recipe
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Angled view of cut up apple delight with two slices taken out of the bottom right.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Lauren Radel

No-bake desserts are ideal for summer months when our ovens are out of office. But don’t sleep on them during this in-between September season we’re living in right now. Apple delight (aka apple lush) is a luxe layered dessert that is perfect for days when it’s still warm enough to grill, but you’re trying to channel sweater weather and PSL vibes. This caramel apple version is everything you love about apple pie and no-bake cheesecake, layered into the ultimate make-ahead dessert for fall. 

What Is Caramel Apple Delight?

Just like its pretty pink strawberry delight cousin, caramel apple delight goes by many names including apple lush and apple yum yum. No matter its name, caramel apple delight is a no-bake dessert built upon a graham cracker crumb crust, and topped with layers of sweetened cream cheese, apple pie filling, and whipped cream or Cool Whip. Just before serving, top the dessert with a drizzle of caramel sauce and coarsely chopped pecans and toffee bits. 

Ingredients Needed to Make Caramel Apple Delight

  • Graham crackers. Graham cracker crumbs can be used instead. If you swap out the graham crackers for other cookies like vanilla wafers and ginger snaps, you may need to adjust the amount of butter needed to hold the crust together.
  • Unsalted butter. The easiest way to form a sturdy graham cracker crust? Drizzle melted butter over the graham cracker crumbs until it holds together when pressed.
  • Cream cheese. Use full-fat cream cheese, and make sure to allow enough time for it to soften.
  • Heavy cream or whipped topping. Sweetened whipped cream (or whipped topping) helps lighten the cream cheese layer and is used as the final creamy layer.
  • Apple pie filling. It doesn’t get any easier than using prepared apple pie filling for the featured center layer.
  • Caramel sauce, nuts, and toffee bits. A generous drizzle of homemade or store-bought caramel sauce, chopped pecans, and toffee pieces adds caramel flavor and crunch to this layered dessert.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Lauren Radel

If You’re Making Caramel Apple Delight, a Few Tips

  • Soften the cream cheese for easy mixing. Give the cream cheese at least 45 minutes to soften before blending. This makes it easier to both beat the cream cheese until it’s fluffy and incorporate the sweetened whipped cream into the cream cheese without deflating it.
  • Pack the graham cracker crumb crust with a measuring cup. Make sure the base of the bars is sturdy by using the bottom of a measuring cup to pack the buttered crumbs firmly and evenly into the baking dish. 
  • Use kitchen shears to chop apples. For zero mess, chop the apples right in the can with kitchen shears (you can use the same method as you do for chopping tomatoes in a can).
  • Clean the knife between slices. Stacked layers are part of the appeal of this layered dessert. Make sure every slice is picture perfect by wiping the knife clean between cuts.  
  • Cut more slices for more smiles. This recipe makes 9 generously sized slices, but you can stretch it to serve 12 by cutting slightly smaller squares. 

Apple Delight Recipe

Packed with five creamy layers of spiced apples, cream cheese, fluffy whipped cream and sweet caramel, this no-bake dessert will make everyone forget all about pie.

Prep time 35 minutes

Cook time 1 minute

Serves 9

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces

    cream cheese

  • 8 tablespoons

    (1 stick) unsalted butter

  • 12

    whole graham crackers sheets (about 6 1/2 ounces), or 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

  • 2 tablespoons

    granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1/2 cup

    powdered sugar, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 cups

    cold heavy cream

  • 1 (about 21-ounce) can

    apple pie filling

  • 1/4 cup

    pecans (optional)

  • 1

    (1.4-ounce) chocolate-covered English toffee bar, such as Heath (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons

    caramel sauce

Instructions

  1. Place 8 ounces cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Let sit at room temperature until softened, about 45 minutes. Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with 2 sheets of parchment paper, positioning them perpendicular to each other, so that the parchment hangs about 2 inches over all 4 sides of the pan to form a sling.

  2. Melt 1 stick unsalted butter in a small microwave-safe bowl in 20-second bursts until mostly melted, 40 to 60 seconds total (it will melt completely as it sits). (Alternatively, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.) Set aside to cool slightly.

  3. Break 12 whole graham cracker sheets into rough pieces and place in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Add 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Process until the crackers are the texture of sand, about 15 seconds. Add the butter and pulse to combine, 6 to 8 (1-second) pulses. (If using graham cracker crumbs, just stir 1 1/2 cups crumbs and the butter together in a medium bowl.)

  4. Transfer the mixture to the baking pan. Use the bottom of a measuring cup or your fingers to press the crumbs into an even layer, making sure to reach the edges and fill the corners. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

  5. Add 1/4 cup of the powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt to the cream cheese. Beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until light and very fluffy, about 3 minutes.

  6. Place 1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream and the remaining 1/4 cup powdered sugar in a second large bowl. (If using a stand mixer, transfer the cream cheese mixture to a large bowl. Wash and dry the bowl and use it to whip the cream.) Beat with the whisk attachment on high speed until stiff peaks form, 2 to 4 minutes.

  7. Transfer 1 cup of whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture and gently fold together with a flexible spatula until just combined. Cover the remaining whipped cream and refrigerate until ready to use.

  8. Dollop the cream cheese mixture into the baking dish and spread into an even layer. Open 1 can apple pie filling and use kitchen shears to coarsely chop the apple slices. Spoon the filling over the cream cheese mixture and spread into an even layer.

  9. Spoon the remaining whipped cream over the apple layer and spread into an even layer. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

  10. When ready to serve, coarsely chop 1/4 cup pecans and/or 1 chocolate-covered English toffee bar, if using. Grasping the excess parchment, transfer the apple delight slab to a cutting board. Cut into 9 squares, wiping the knife between each cut for cleaner cuts. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons caramel sauce and sprinkle with the pecans and/or toffee.

Recipe Notes

Ingredient variation: 1 (8-ounce) container thawed whipped topping can be substituted for the sweetened whipped cream.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days