These bars should be made by patient bakers with a bit of time they look best when the apples are lined up in neat columns. This is not to say that it makes any difference in the way they taste.
For the crust:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
For the filling:
- 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg, at room temperature
For the topping:
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, if desired, cored, and thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a 9x13-inch pan.
To make the crust: Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl or food processor fitted with a steel blade and mix to combine. Add the vanilla and butter, a little at a time, and mix until it resembles cornmeal. Press into the prepared baking pan and transfer to the oven. Bake until slightly golden but not brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees.
To make the filling: Place the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle and beat until creamy. Add the egg, mix to combine, an pour over the cooled crust.
Place the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix to combine.
Place the apples on top of the filling in two or three columns. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar and transfer to the oven. Bake until firm and a rich brown, about 20 minutes. Cut into 20 to 24 pieces.