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