Sunday, December 4, 2016

Apple Caramel Cheesecake

A cheesecake is a fresh twist to the classic holiday pies.  I had wanted to make a big cheesecake for a long time, but didn't have a crowd to feed... until Friendsgiving. I decided to shy away from pumpkin, as we had quite the overload, but apples and caramel and nuts are just as fallworthy, and knew I had to make this Apple Caramel Cheesecake when I saw pictures of it online.
Since I didn't have space to bring all my kitchenware from Texas, I didn't have a full size springform pan. I asked my friends and colleagues to borrow any, only to get looks of confusion. However one friend did have one (I don't think she had ever used it since it was practically fused shut, and I wondered if this was actually a real springform pan haha). I finally managed to pry it open with success.

Sadly I only had two bites of this cheesecake before running to my night shift on Thanksgiving dinner, but my friend's husband loved this cheesecake so much he took it all home, and told his non-baking wife to get the recipe to make it for him. There's no better way to say "thank you" to a baker than to eat it all and insist on the recipe :)
The downside of nights is that you don't get good sleep - I could occasionally nap at night but hadn't slept more than 4 hours in a row during the daytime when working the past two weeks because day sleep just doesn't work for me. Since I was exhausted (and feeling lazy), I didn't set up a water bath as I normally do for cheesecake baking, hence the brown edges, but it was just as delicious.

The apple topping takes a bit of time but it's well worth it, and can hide any cracks as a bonus (mine had a lovely split since I didn't use the water bath or have time to cool it as slowly, hehe). You can use store bought caramel, as I did, but there is nothing quite like homemade caramel. This Apple Caramel Cheesecake recipe adapted from Bobby Flay.


Apple Caramel Cheesecake


Ingredients
CRUST
1 1/2 cups graham crackers, crushed
1/4 cup sugar
6-7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon cinammon
pinch salt

CHEESECAKE
1 tablespoon orange zest
3 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Greek yogurt

CARAMEL APPLE TOPPING
1 cup apple juice
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
3 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
toasted walnuts
caramel sauce

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

CRUST: Finely grind the graham crackers in a food processor or hand crush with a rolling pin and ziploc bag. Combined the crackers, sugar, salt, cinammon, and melted butter in a bowl. Spray the pan with cooking spray, then pat the crust into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake in the oven until lightly golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove and let cool.

CHEESECAKE: Beat sugar, orange zest, and cream cheese until light and fluffy  Beat the eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla extract. Add the salt and yogurt and mix until just combined. Pour the batter into the springform pan with the cheesecake crust. Set up water bath if you want to bake it more evenly with less cracking. Bake until the sides of the cake are slightly puffed and set and the center still jiggles, about 55 minutes.

Water Bath optional: Wrap heavy duty aluminum foil around the bottom and sides. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan and pour hot water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan; the foil will keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake.

Turn the heat off and let cake slowly cool to room temperature over 2 hours. Cover the cake and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours until chilled through.

CARAMEL APPLE TOPPING:
Bring apple juice, sugar and vanilla bean to a boil in a large saute pan over high heat and cook until slightly thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup. Stir in the butter until melted. Add the apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized and soft. Add the apple brandy and cook until reduced by 1/2. Transfer the apples to a plate and let cool slightly.

Top with the warm apple topping, drizzle liberally with the caramel sauce and sprinkle with the remaining toasted walnuts. Serve additional sauce on the side.

19 comments:

  1. It was delicious, and Aaron will appreciate the recipe!! <3 He was so jealous of how Brian has unlimited access to this stuff, haha. I'm glad you were able to put that pan to good use! Btw, I don't know why, but I like brown edges. It reminds me of brownie edges. :P

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    1. Glad you liked it Nan :D I do love brownie edges

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  2. two bites! i would've been so upset! it looks absolutely perfect, a real show-stopper!

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    1. There was no more when I came back the next morning haha

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  3. Oh my goodness! Only two bites?! Awe - you'll just have to make it again...

    It looks so delicious and beautiful.

    Amber
    http://amusedblog.com

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    1. That's always my husband's go to answer when I run out - make more!

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  4. Oh wow, this looks absolutely delicious! Need to try it soon, I'm a huge sucker for any cheesecake :-)

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  5. I've never had apple on cheesecake before, but it sure sounds delicious and makes it a great fall/winter dessert. And I definitely have never only had 2 bites of cheesecake before!!

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  6. This looks amazing (I'm obsessed with cheesecake and I've never tried this flavour)! You broke down the steps in a way that makes this recipe sound simple and it totally captures the spirit of both fall and winter.

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    1. Thanks! Gotta keep things simple - I baked it post night shift haha

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  7. I do not do a lot of baking but when I do I love to make cheesecake. Because I have not been able to get my top not to crack, I love ones like this that have a topping to disguise this. This might be on my holiday baking list.

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    1. The trick to avoiding the top cracking is to bake and cool low and slow in a cheesecake water bath since the temperature changes are what causes the cracking. But if you're in a hurry, this is quick and tastes just as good (just disguise it)

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  8. This has some serious chances to become one of my favourite cheesecake recipes !

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  9. Kimberly @ Berly's KitchenDecember 6, 2016 at 12:27 PM

    This looks amazing, so you should definitely make another just for you. Cheesecakes are one of the best desserts!

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    1. I would (although I can't gain too much holiday / night shift weight haha)

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  10. This looks so delicious, that I had to pin it!!!!

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