Awesome Blossom Caramel Apple Cheesecake

Don’t you just love it when something looks really fancy but was actually a cinch? That’s the case with this cheesecake. I am a notoriously bad cheesecake-maker — mine either never set completely or crack all over the top and look ugly — but this one is foolproof! The apples cover the top in a gorgeous “apple blossom” that does double duty; it adds a tart/sweet apple-y punch and hides any imperfections in the top of your cheesecake. Brilliant!

I made this for a teacher appreciation lunch this week and there wasn’t even a morsel left for me to try. (But I licked the bottom of the plate and it was delicious.) The brown sugar in the cheesecake portion in amazing — it adds that rich, velvety caramel note that melts in your mouth.

I’m keeping this one on the list for possible Thanksgiving desserts. It’s that good.

Awesome Blossom Caramel Apple Cheesecake

Awesome Blossom Caramel Apple Cheesecake

Ingredients

2 3/4 pounds large Granny Smith apples (about 6 apples)

1 2/3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar, divided

1 tablespoon butter

2 cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs (about 15 whole crackers)

1/2 cup melted butter

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

3 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs

1/4 cup apple jelly

Sweetened whipped cream

Instructions

1. Peel apples, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Toss together apples and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add apple mixture, and sauté 5 to 6 minutes or until crisp-tender and golden. Cool completely (about 30 minutes).

2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350º. Stir together cinnamon graham cracker crumbs and next 2 ingredients in a medium bowl until well blended. Press mixture on bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack, and cool crust completely before filling (about 30 minutes).

3. Beat cream cheese, vanilla, and remaining 1 1/3 cups brown sugar at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until blended and smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Pour batter into prepared crust. Starting on the outer edge, arrange apples in a circular pattern over the cream cheese mixture.

4. Bake at 350º for about 90 minutes or until set. (Note: Southern Living recipe stated 55 minutes to 1 hour and 5 minutes, but my center was REALLY jiggly. You want it to be set in the middle.) Cover the apples with foil if they begin to brown too much. (I covered mine for the last 40 min. and still had to snip off some edges with a scissors.) Remove from oven, and gently run a knife around outer edge of cheesecake to loosen from sides of pan. (Do not remove sides of pan.) Cool completely on a wire rack (about 2 hours). Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours.

5. When ready to serve, remove sides from springform. Cook apple jelly and 1 tsp. water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes or until jelly is melted; brush over apples on top of cheesecake.

Serve with whipped cream.

Recipe adapted slightly from Southern Living.

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