This week it was my turn to choose the recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie. Anyone who knows me can understand how tough this decision was for me. I will spend forever pouring over a menu before deciding what I want to order... until my husband gets mad at me and forces me to make a decision before we turn the server away for the third time ;) I love too many different things, and I'm entirely too indecisive. So with over 500 recipes to choose from, I was at a loss!
As much as I enjoyed the Black and White Chocolate Cake and the "She Ain't Heavy" Chocolate Cake," I was ready to take a small break from fancy cakes (I'm horrible at assembling cake layers). Aside from that, I had no idea what I wanted to choose. So, I poured over the book several times before narrowing it down to a select few. In the end, I chose the Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake. I love cheesecake, and I love apples... so it seemed perfect.
This turned out to be a soft and creamy cheesecake. Not nearly as dense as a New York Style cheesecake, but I liked that because it wasn't too heavy. Three "large" apples is a pretty subjective measure, but I usually like more fruit in anything with a fruit filling, so I used four fairly large apples, weighing a total of 2 pounds. I felt that this was the perfect cheesecake to apple ratio. Originally, I had planned on topping this with more cooked apples and caramel sauce, but in the end it was perfect as is :)
When I decided to join Tuesdays with Dorie, I had no idea what I was getting into! I don't mean that in a bad way, but what I mean is that I had no idea how quickly the group would grow! Two weeks ago, I was the third person to join Laurie in her baking endeavor. Since then, the group has grown to include thirty bakers! :) Visit our new blog to see our blog roll and who the new members are. While you're there, don't forget to check out everyone's creamy creations from this week.
Oh, and this marks my 100th post! When I started my blog back in September, it was mostly to keep track of my favorite recipes. It was also a great way for me to share recipes with my friends. Little did I know that just five months later, I'd be here, participating in blog events (like Time to Make the Doughnuts) and a part of baking groups like Tuesdays with Dorie (I also finally mustered up enough courage to join the Daring Bakers this month!). So, for those that have been along for the ride, I thank you for reading my blog. I'm thrilled to hit the 100 post milestone and look forward to many more mouth watering posts in the future :)
Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake
from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
For the Crust:
30 gingersnaps (or a scant 2 cups graham cracker crumbs)
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
For the Apples:
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter
3 large Golden Delicious or Fuji apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths (I used 2 lbs Fuji, cut into twelfths)
2 tbsp (packed) light brown sugar
For the Filling:
1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature (I used 1/3 less fat Neufchatel)
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
6 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp apple cider
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream (I used light sour cream)
1/3 cup heavy cream
Apple jelly, for glazing, or confectioner's sugar, for dusting (optional)
To Make the Crust:
Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan. (I used a 9-inch so my crust went all the way up the sides of the cheesecake.)
Put the gingersnaps in a food processor and whir until you have crumbs; you should have a scant 2 cups. (If you are using graham cracker crumbs, just put them in the food processor.) Pulse in the sugar and cinnamon, if you're using it, then pour over the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are moistened. Turn the crumbs into the springform pan and, using your fingertips, 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. (The crust can be covered and frozen for up to 2 months.)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
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:
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. 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 the sugar and cook them, turning, just until coated, another minute or so. 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.
Getting Ready to Bake:
Have a roasting pan large enough to hold the springform pan at hand. Put a kettle of water on to boil.
To Make the Filling:
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed, scraping down the bowl often, for about 4 minutes, or until it is velvety smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes. Beat in the cider, vanilla, and cinnamon. 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 sour cream and heavy cream, beating just until the batter is smooth.
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. Cover with the remaining batter and, if needed, jiggle the pan to even the top. Place the springform pan in the roasting pan and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 to 45 minutes (I baked mine for 1 hour and 50 minutes in the 9-inch pan), covering the cake loosely with a foil tent at the 45-minute mark. The cake will rise evenly and crack around the edges (mine did not crack at all), and it should be fully set except, possibly, in the very center--if the center shimmies, that's just fine. 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.
Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the crust, open the pan's latch and release and remove the sides.