Did you know that apples in the grocery store can be up to 10 months old? TEN MONTHS!? Ugh. No wonder they taste so much better straight off the tree at the orchard. I mean, ten months – that apple should be almost walking by this point! Well, just another reason to hit the orchard every fall!
I decided to try some apple cheesecakes this past week. I baked two and the taste-test winner is here for you. My coworkers voted this one the champion by a landslide. In fact, one person declared it “the best cheesecake ever” – but I’ll let you decide that for yourself!
The recipe calls for a gingersnap crust. I, however, specifically used Sweetzels Spice Cookies. If you don’t live within about 150 miles of Philadelphia, you probably won’t be able to find them. I usually have my mom get me a box (or three) but this year I about fell over when I saw them in my local grocery store. If you do have access to them, they are awesome. In my pictures you can also see that the apple topping was a little goopy. I suspect this is because I refrigerated it overnight, along with the cheesecake, before putting it on the cheesecake. If you can avoid this, it might look a bit smoother. Either way it tastes great.
A note about cheesecakes. Lots of bakers who are much more experienced than I am insist on baking a cheesecake in a hot water bath (wrap springform pan in foil, place in a pan of water). This creates a more even heat distribution and the moisture prevents the top of your cake from cracking. Me? I’ve never done this, and I’ve never had a problem. Nope, never a cracked cake. If that did happen though, (a) I’d cover it up with some kind of a topping, and/or (b) I bet it would taste so good nobody would give a hoot that there was a crack in it. Do as you wish, but the recipe below does not include any water bath.
Apple Cinnamon Cheesecake
2 c gingersnap cookie crumbs (or Sweetzels)
2 T brown sugar
pinch of salt
6 T (3 oz) unsalted butter, melted
Spiced Cheesecake Filling
4 8-oz packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 c granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 c heavy cream
1 T pumpkin pie spice
1 T vanilla extract
1/2 c (2 oz) unsalted butter
2 T all-purpose flour
3/4 c apple cider
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 c packed brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t vanilla extract
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 t nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix together all crust ingredients and press into the bottom of a springform pan and about 1 1/2″ up the sides. Bake for 7 minutes and cool completely on a wire rack.
With a mixer, combine cream cheese and sugar, mixing until smooth for about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next.
Add heavy cream, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla. Combine until incorporated and smooth in texture.
Pour batter into prepared crust and bake 45-55 minutes. The edges will appear set but the middle (2″ or so) will still be jiggly. This is good. Leave cake in oven but turn off heat and let the cheesecake rest in the cooling oven for at least an hour, but up to 3 hours.
Remove cheesecake from oven and bring to room temperature on a wire rack. Transfer to refrigerator for at least 5 hours, or overnight.
At least 3 hours before serving, prepare apple topping. Mix together sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl. In another bowl, sprinkle apples with lemon juice and toss.
Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Whisk in flour and stir for about one minute. Slowly whisk in apple cider, followed by sugar and spice mixture (sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg).
Add apples to skillet and cook until slightly tender (5-7 minutes), stirring constantly. Once apples are desired texture and sauce has thickened, remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Allow apple topping to cool completely before topping the cheesecake. Arrange on top and chill for at least an hour.