Tuesday, February 12, 2008

TWD: Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake


Here's to my first TWD recipe!! Jaime of Good Eats n' Sweet Treats chose Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake (pages 218-219) for this weeks' recipe and boy what a great job she did choosing! I'm a lover of all-things-cheesecake, albeit I've only made cheesecake a number of times. I'm always nervous to make cheesecake because there are so many ideas about the best techniques for the best cheesecake: waterbath vs. no waterbath, cool the cheesecake in the oven vs. on the counter, baked vs. no-bake, a crack should be there vs. shouldn't...you get the point. But because I'm such a recipe-follower, I wasn't too nervous about making this one. I know that Dorie's recipes are tried and true and that all I would need to do is follow her recipe. Easy enough.


Easy? Yes. Quick? No. It took me 1 and 1/2 hours to prep this cheesecake because I was so afraid of screwing it up...and lord knows I didn't want to screw up my first TWD recipe! I had to take extra precautions to be sure that everything I did was right...that the crust was browned enough but not too much, that the apples were cooked enough without burning the brown sugar, that the cream cheese was soft enough so the batter wasn't lumpy, that the springform pan was wrapped tightly enough so no water would leak into my masterpiece. It certainly was a process but the proof was in the pudding...err cheesecake...that my precautions and all that extra time yielded one hell of a cheesecake...and a cheesecake WITHOUT a crack!! This was a first for me and was the first indication that I felt that I really did everything right. The only little blemishes on the top of the cheesecake came from the aluminum foil that stuck to the cake as it rose in the oven - no biggie!


Because I made the cheesecake last night (Monday night), I had to let it chill overnight before cutting it which was fine because I feel more comfortable taking pics during the daylight rather than at night...and coincidentally, I hadn't had breakfast this morning before cutting the cake and taking pics. Aww shucks....cheesecake for breakfast? What a bummer! Well, somebody had to taste it in order to write this review!


Dorie certainly was right - this is a substantial cheesecake. Not heavy and dense like NY cheesecake, but creamy and almost light...but substantial in taste it is. The cheesecake never fell in the middle while cooling and resulted in this beautiful dessert flecked with cinnamon as the highest (thickest?) cheesecake I've ever made. I did have to restrain myself from eating a whole piece this morning because I did only cut it 8ths but it was oh so good! (And in the future, I will definitely use dental floss again to make the initials cuts and then a hot, clean knife to finish them off.) I offered to put a piece in Kyle's lunch today but he said that he'd wait until tonight to try it and I almost feel bad about not waiting for him...almost.
Check out how everyone else did here!

Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake

source: Baking: From My Home to Yours

For the Crust

  • 30 gingersnaps (or a scant 2 cups graham cracker crumbs) I used cinnamon graham crackers and ground them into crumbs myself
  • 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 Golden Delicious
  • 2 tbsp (packed) light brown sugar

For the Filling

  • 1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 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
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Apple jelly, for glazing, or confectioner's sugar, for dusting (optional)

To Make the Crust:

  1. Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan. 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.)
  2. 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:

  1. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 to 45 minutes, covering the cake loosely with a foil tent at the 45-minute mark. The cake will rise evenly and crack around the edges, and it should be fully set except, possibly, in the very center--if the center shimmies, that's just fine.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

10 comments:

Jhianna said...

Looks fantastic! And it took me forever to do as well... I just didn't want to have to do this recipe twice!

Engineer Baker said...

Cheesecakes are always better for breakfast! I mean, this one had fruit, dairy, carbs... totally a balanced breakfast :) And a beautiful one too!

chelley325 said...

Your cake looks fantastic!! And dental floss is genius! I'll have to remember that for next time :) It looks perfect!

bakingblonde said...

OMG that looks delish.

PS you have been tagged
http://bakingblonde.blogspot.com/2008/02/i-have-been-tagged.html

MrsPresley said...

what a beautiful cheesecake! congrats on your first crack-free cheesecake :) glad you joined us at TWD

eatme_delicious said...

I've never heard of using dental floss to start the cuts in a cake! Intriguing. I think I'd be too impatient to do something like that, even though it does look nicer. Anyway your cheese cake looks perfect! Well done. I can definitely relate to taking extra time to make something because I'm so paranoid and want to get everything just right.

Peabody said...

Water bath always for cheesecake! If you don't want cracks that is. Great job.

Di said...

Your cheesecake looks great! I also had a problem with the foil sticking to the top of mine. It rose more than I expected. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with cheesecake for breakfast, or any other baked good for that matter. =) My husband always gives me grief for eating leftover apple pie for breakfast. Hey, it's got fruit, right? What's wrong with that?

steph- whisk/spoon said...

it came out great!

Renea said...

Oh wow! I could lick the screen. It looks fantastic!