I can’t leave well enough alone. Nothing illustrates this fact better than my adaptation of Dorie Greenspan’s perfectly great recipe for Brown Sugar- Apple Cheesecake. If the recipe says round spring form pan, I want to use a square baking pan. If the recipe calls for apples inside the cheesecake, I want my apples on top. Call me a rebel. So in the world according the Joy, this cheesecake is served in bars, with browned apple and sugar goodness adorning the top. It’s delicious any way you slice it. Oh yes it is.
This week’s Tuesday With Dorie event, hosted by Quirky Cupcake and Good Eats and Sweet Treats featured Brown Sugar- Apple Cheesecake. The thought of making cheesecake doesn’t really rock my socks. But if I get a chance to cook apples in butter and sugar… any day, any time, I’m in!
I thought about this cheesecake adventure long and hard, and here’s what I did:
In a 9″ x 7″ pan I made a full recipe of crust, a full recipe of cooked apples, and a half recipe of cheesecake filling. Why a rectangular pan? Because I never have good luck with springform pans. Water from the water bath always sneaks in, no matter what I do or how I shake my fist in frustration. Why half the cheesecake filling? Because my mouth wanted to focus of the crust and yummy cooked apples.
Brown Sugar- Apple Cheesecake
recipe as Dorie Greenspan intended.
For the Crust-
30 ginger snaps (or a scant 2 cups graham cracker crumbs)
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 stick (4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
For the Apples-
1/2 stick (4 Tablespoons) unslated butter
3 large Golden Delicious or Fuji apples, peeled, cored and cut into eights.
2 Tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
For the Filling-
(I only used half of this recipe for my bars, but I’m providing you with Dorie Greenspan’s original recipe, ok?)
1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
6 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons apple cider
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy cream
To make the Crust-
1. Butter the bottom and the sides of a 10 inch spring form pan.
2. Put the gingersnaps in a food processor and whir until you have crumbs. Pulse in the sugar and the cinnamon, if you’re using it, then pour over the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are moistened.
3. Turn the crumbs into the spring form pan and, using your finger tips, firmly press them evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan as far as they’ll go. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven.
4. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
5. Remove the pan from the freezer and wrap the bottom tightly in aluminum foil, going up the sides. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust is set and lightly browned. Transfer to a rack to cool while you make the apples and the filling. Leave the oven at 350 degrees F.
To make the Apples-
1. Melt 2 Tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.
2. When the foam subsides, toss in half of the apple slices and cook, turning once, until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the apples with 1 Tablespoon of sugar and cook them, turning until just coated, for another minute or so.
3. Scrape the apples onto a plate, wipe out the skillet, and repeat with the remaining apples. Let the apples cool while you make the filling.
To make the Filling-
1. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fit with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed, scraping the bowl down often, for about 4 minutes, or until it is velvety smooth.
2. Add the sugar and beat for another two minutes . Beat in the cider, vanilla extract and cinnamon.
3. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the eggs, one by one, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Finally, beat in the heavy cream and sour cream, beating just until the batter is smooth.
4. Pour about one third of the batter into the baked crust. Drain the apples by lifting them off the plate with a slotted spoon or spatula, and spoon them into the pan. (I used a foiled lined 9 x 7 inch baking pan. Also, I didn’t add apples into the cheesecake itself, I added the apples on top of the cheesecake once out of the oven and cooled.)
5. Cover with the remaining batter, and if needed, jiggle the pan to even the top.
6. Place the springform pan in the roasting pan and pour enough boiling water in to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
7. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30-45 minutes, covering the cake loosely with a foil tent ath e 45- minute mark. (I baked my cake for 45-50 minutes). The cake will rise evenly and crack around the edges, and it should be fully set except, possible, in the very center- if the center shimmies, that’s just fine.
8. Gently transfer the cake, still in the pan, to a cooling rack and let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it for at least 6 hours, overnight would be better.
9. Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the crust, open the pans latch and release and remove the sides. (I lifted the cheesecake out with the overhanging foil flaps and gently removed the foil from the sides of the cheesecake, then I cut the cheesecake into 8 bars and topped with the apple mixture.)