Be sure to read the entire recipe before starting out and plan out your timeline accordingly. I say this because I didn't do that and it ended up with me almost pulling an all-nighter to finish this cheesecake before our Superbowl party the next day!!!
This recipe is from one of my most recent cookbook additions - Bobby Flay's Throwdown. There are three components to this recipe including the cheesecake, the apples and the apple-caramel sauce. Make them in the order specified below for best results.
- cooking spray
- 8 whole graham crackers
- 1 cup lightly toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 2 tbsp light brown sugar
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp grated orange zest
- 3 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tbp finely packed light muscovado sugar (brown sugar works too)
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 large vanilla bean, seeds scraped out, seeds and pods reserved
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp fine salt
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- To make the cheesecake, preheat the oven to 350F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.
- Combine the graham crackers, 1/2 cup of the walnuts, and the brown sugar in a food processor and process until finely ground. With the motor running, add the butter through the feed tube and process until themixture just comes together. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan, place it on a baking sheet, and bake in the oven until light golden brown and just set, about 8 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
- Combine 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar and the orange zest in a food processor and process until combined.
- Put the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add the orange sugar, remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp of granualted sugar, and the muscovado sugar, and beat until sugar is incorporated and the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and mix until just incorporated, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the vanilla seeds (save the pod for the apples), vanilla extract and salt and beat until combined. Add the heavy cream and mix until just combined.
- Scrape the mixture into the cooled crust. Set the springform pan on a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil, and fold the foil up the sides to surround it. Set the pan in a large roasting pan. Pour hot tap water into the roasting pan until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the edges of the cake are slightly puffed and set and the center still jiggles, about 55 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon, and leave the cheesecake in the water bath in the oven for 1 hour.
- Remove the springform pan from the water bath, place it on a wire rack, and cool to room temperature, 2 hours. Then cover the pan and refrigerate until the cheesecake is chilled through, at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
- 2 cups apple juice
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter, cold
- 3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 3 fuji apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup calvados or other apple brandy
- 1/2 cup creme fraiche
- Bring the apple juice, sugar and the reserved vanilla bean pod to a boil in a large saute pan over high heat. Cook until slightly thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup, 10 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean pod and discard.
- Stir in the butter until melted. Add the apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly carmelized and soft, 8-10 minutes. Add the calvados and simmer until reduced by half. Transfer the apples to a plate and let cool slightly.
- To serve, remove the foil and sides from the springform pan. Spread the creme fraiche over the cheesecake. Top with the warm apple topping, drizzle liberally with the caramel sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. Serve additional caramel sauce on the side.
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup heavy cream, hot
- pinch of fine salt
- 3 tbsp calvados or other apple brandy
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Combine the sugar and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook, swirling the pot occasionally to even out the colour, until amber, 10-12 minutes.
- Slowly add the heavy cream and salt to the caramel. Whisk until smooth. Remove from teh heat, and stir in te calvados and vanilla extract. Serve warm.