When the weather begins to cool down, all I want to do is get into my kitchen and bake. It is time to put the beach chairs away and break out the sweatshirts. Most weekends, I am a football widow. You will most likely find me in the kitchen baking to my hearts content, and the rest of my family yelling at the TV from the couch. Every year I make a “Welcome Fall” dinner that involves roast pork, mashed potatoes, braised red cabbage, and caramel apple cheesecake. It is a stick-to-your-ribs kind of dinner, but one we look forward to all year long.
I know that this recipe might seem a little on the complicated side, but really, making cheesecake is an ideal make ahead dessert. You can make most of the components ahead of time and keep them in the fridge until you need them. I guarantee that your guests will be blown away. I know this because I get lots of oohs and ahhs when this baby hits the table.
Caramel Apple Cheesecake
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted, plus more for greasing pan
1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped
4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
zest from one orange
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 10-inch springform pan. Wrap the pan in tin foil.
Add the graham cracker crumbs, butter and pecans to a food processor, and pulse until it is well combined. Press into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes, and cool completely.
In a food processor or electric mixture, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and cornstarch until completely smooth. Add the sour cream, orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, until everything is incorporated and completely smooth.
Pour filling into cooled crust. Put the pan in a large roasting pan and pour recently boiled water halfway up the sides. Cover the roasting pan loosely with foil. Bake 1 hour, 45 minutes, or until the edges are set, and the middle still has some jiggle. Check the pan about halfway through and add more water as needed. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and cool completely. Chill in the refrigerator overnight.
Brandy Caramel Sauce
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons brandy
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 vanilla bean, seeded and scraped (optional)
In a small saucepan, simmer cream and butter over medium-low heat. Keep warm.
Put the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, (do not stir this mixture) swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar turns a golden amber color, about 8 to 10 minutes.
When the sugar has reached desired color, slowly whisk in the cream mixture until smooth. Remove from heat and add the brandy, sea salt and a vanilla bean. Pour into an airtight container. Caramel will keep in the fridge for one week. Reheat gently if it hardens.
2 cups apple juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeded and scraped
2 tablespoons butter
zest of 1 lemon
3 Golden Delicious apple, peeled and thinly sliced
3 Fuji apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup brandy
In a large sauté pan, bring apple juice, sugar, and vanilla bean to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until reduced to 1/2 cup. Stir in butter. Add lemon zest and apple slices and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the brandy and cook until it reduces in half again. Let cool slightly before adding to cheesecake.
Unmold cheesecake from springform pan. Pour caramel sauce on top of cheesecake. Add apples and serve.
apple, caramel, cheesecake, dessert
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