The Pantry: Caramel Apple Cheesecake

Warning: The following recipe is not for the faint of heart.  It took nearly all day to make this–and longer, it seems, to write about it. But, let me tell you, it was so good.  As I said the other day, my husband said that it was “like eating the air in heaven.”  I think he might have been right.

Now, I don’t usually make cheesecakes.  The few times that I’ve done so in the past, they’ve been more like cheesecake pies, and they’ve been far too dense for my tastes, and I usually can’t get through more than half a slice before pushing it away.  However, my dad gave me a spring form pan as a gift last month, and you have to make a cheesecake with a pan like that.  The thing is, though, if I’m going to make a cheesecake, then I’m going to make a cheesecake.

I made this: Bobby Flay’s Caramel Apple Cheesecake

It took me most of the day, but oh my goodness was it worth it.

What I did differently:

The Crust-

My pan was 10-inches, not the recommended 9, so I used 12 low fat cinnamon graham crackers instead of the 8 regular graham crackers.

Since I don’t have a food processor, I crushed the crackers in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, and  then I ground the walnuts up in my blender.

After greasing my pan and wrapping it in aluminum foil,

I packed the crust into the pan using the bottom of my measuring cup.

I also used all but 1/4 cup of the crust mixture (I saved the rest to top a pineapple gratin later).

The Filling-

I used 1/3 fat cream cheese instead of the full fat kind.  I don’t know that it made that much of a difference, but at least I could pretend it was healthier.

Instead of strictly measuring 1 tablespoon of grated orange zest, I peeled several large strips of orange peel  (You can see the orange in the background of the photo above), minus the pith, and combined it with sugar in my blender in order to make the orange sugar.  Let me say–just as an aside– orange sugar is incredible.  Yum!

Instead of muscovado sugar, I made a mixture of white sugar, brown sugar, and molasses.  I have no idea how much of each I used and for some reason I didn’t write it down, but I know that it ultimately equaled the same volume as what was originally stated in the recipe.  I think I used equal amounts of brown and white sugar plus 1 tablespoon molasses.

I combined all of the sugar into a single bowl before adding it to the cream cheese:

For the eggs, I followed the suggestions of some reviewers to separate the eggs.

I added the yolks first (carefully, since I accidentally broke two of them–I’m not perfect), and then when the entire filling was combined,

I whipped the egg white into medium stiff peaks

and then carefully folded them into the batter.

The sheer volume of the mixture was incredible.

I didn’t do anything different when baking, but here are some shots of the rest of the baking process:

The blurry water bath photo. The aluminum foil is supposed to keep water from seeping into the cake.  My triple lined pan did not succeed.  Oh well.

Another blurry photo of the cheesecake after baking it:

Removed from the spring form pan:

The Topping-

I used apple cider instead of Calvados, and I used 6 large Royal Gala apples instead of the recommended 3Fuji and 3 Granny Smith apples.

When slicing the apples, I used my 8 slice apple corer, and then I carefully cut each of the 8 slices in half, yielding 16 thin slices per apple for a total of 96 thinly slice apples.  I think maybe 85 slices made it into the topping, though because, well, Royal Gala apples are absolutely delicious.  They have the faintest taste  and scent of roses.  I have no idea why, but there you go.

I removed the vanilla bean from the apples.  I don’t know why that isn’t in the original instructions.  I guess it’s sort of a given.

The Apple-Caramel Sauce-

This one was a tough one for me.  I did a trial run of the sauce the night before I made the cheesecake, and it was absolutely horrible.  I don’t know what I did wrong, but the sauce was so bitter that the ice cream I served it over was rendered completely inedible.  The vanilla seemed to be the culprit (maybe the mixture was too hot for it, or I used too much– I don’t know), so when I made the sauce the second time, I left out the vanilla extract itself and used the same vanilla bean saved from the apple topping.  I kept it in the mixture for only a short amount of time.  Long enough to give it flavor, but short enough so as not to impart any bitterness.

Again, I also used apple cider instead of the Calvados.

For some reason I didn’t take any photos of the caramel sauce.  I don’t know why.  I think it’s because I was afraid to stop watching it for fear that I’d ruin it again.

Refrigeration-

I did not let mine stay in the refrigerator as long as suggested.  I was shy by about a half an hour.  I just couldn’t wait.  If I were to make this again–and that would ONLY be for a super special occasion– I’d probably leave it overnight.   It was softer  than I would have liked.

The End Result-

I recommend this as a great holiday dessert, but make sure you don’t plan anything else for the day you decide to make this.  Worth it, but so much work.

The apple topping, though– make that often.  Oh yum, oh, yum, oh, yum.

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