This Caramel Apple Cheesecake is loaded with apple flavor, and it’s baked in a gingersnap crust. It’s everything you love about the Fall…just in cheesecake form!
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Until we moved up here, I was really only familiar with a couple of varieties of apples. Of course there were Red Delicious and Granny Smith, and I think I might have heard of Gala and McIntosh, too. So you can imagine my surprise when I came across like 25+ varieties on our first trip to the orchard. I’m pretty sure we took a bite of every kind, too! (The orchard encouraged us to sample the different varieties.) My favorite? Honeycrisp. Hands down. No questions asked. I think we buy probably 50 pounds of Honeycrisp every Fall. Not lying. (Honeycrisps are my favorite for eating, but Granny Smiths are still my favorite for baking.)
Within just a couple months of moving into our house, we went out and planted several fruit trees in our back yard. We’ve got 2 apple trees (they need each other to pollinate), 1 nectarine tree and a cherry tree. It’s been awesome watching them grow, but the worst part is having to pick all of the buds off every Spring. Picking the buds off of young trees sends the tree’s energy into growing bigger and stronger rather than producing fruit. This year, we decided to leave a couple of buds on each tree. Sure enough, we have a couple of apples out there! Or I should say had a couple of apples.
From my upstairs office window, I can literally watch the squirrels run off with my apples. I run out there yelling and hollering like a banshee, but to no avail. We’re now down to 2 apples, and I’m hoping the squirrels are full and leave those poor apples alone. If anyone has any tips for how to keep squirrels from eating all of your apples, please share!!
We recently had some friends come visit, and they requested an apple dessert. After all, we live in the middle of apple country, and apples are in season. Well, I got to thinking. Apples. That led to caramel. Ok, so now I had a caramel apple dessert of some sort. Then it hit me. Cheesecake. Caramel Apple Cheesecake.
Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts of all time, so I was stoked to get in the kitchen and create this fun cheesecake! Not only did I include some lightly sauteed apples in the cake, but I swirled some apple butter into the batter as well. (Thanks to my uncle-in-law for that little trick!) The result? Well, let’s just say this Caramel Apple Cheesecake didn’t last too long around here!
Caramel Apple Cheesecake
For the Gingersnap Crust
- 30-35 gingersnaps enough for 2 cups of crumbs
- 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
For the Apples
For the Cheesecake
For the Gingersnap Crust
- Using a food processor or mini-chopper, pulse the gingersnaps until finely ground. In a medium bowl, combine the gingersnap crumbs, brown sugar and melted butter. Stir until fully combined.
- Lightly butter or grease a 9” springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper. Press the crust mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan. (Tip: A flat-bottomed glass helps pack the crust mixture down evenly.)
- Bake crust at 350°F for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
For the Apples
- Using a medium sauté pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Once melted, add the sliced apples and stir until well combined. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until apples begin to soften slightly.
- Add the brown sugar, stir and cook for 1 more minute. Set aside to cool.
For the Caramel Sauce
- Place the sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Whisk the sugar constantly as it begins to melt. (Tip: Use a larger saucepan than you might think because the mixture will bubble up when the other ingredients are added!)
- Once the sugar has fully melted and turns light caramel in color, remove pan from heat and add the butter. Stir until butter has fully melted. (Note: The mixture will bubble up rapidly once the butter is added, so use caution.)
- Slowly whisk in the heavy cream. (Tip: If the caramel seizes up when you add the liquid, you can place it back over low temperature and whisk constantly until it turns into a thick sauce.)
- Let cool at room temperature for at least 20 minutes.
- Cover and store in the refrigerator.
For the Cheesecake
- Using a countertop mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until completely smooth (about 3 minutes).
- Add the sugar and mix well. (Tip: Don’t forget to scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl to fully incorporate the sugar.)
- Add flour and mix well.
- Whisk the eggs and egg yolks together and add to the bowl in 3 additions, mixing fully after each addition.
- Add the sour cream, vanilla, apple cider and cinnamon. Mix until fully combined. (Tip: Use a spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure the filling is fully mixed.)
- Pour about ¼ of the Cheesecake filling on top of the cooled Gingersnap Crust.
- Next spread the cooked Apples evenly across the top of the filling.
- Pour the remaining Cheesecake filling on top of the Apples.
- Finally, drop the apple butter on top of the filling in 2 Tbsp spoonfuls. Using a blunt knife, carefully swirl the apple butter into the filling. (Note: Take care not to disturb the layer of Apples at the bottom of the cheesecake.)
- Wrap the bottom of the pan with a piece of aluminum foil and place in a large baking pan. Fill baking pan with 3/4” of water. Bake at 325° until center of cake is just barely set (about 90-100 minutes). (Tip: Pull the cheesecake out of the oven when there is ~1" ring of "looser" filling left in the center of the cake.)
- Remove cake from oven and cool for 10 min. Wrap entire pan in plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
- The next day, remove the cake from the freezer and release the springform pan. Transfer the cake to a serving platter and defrost in a refrigerator for 4-5 hours.
- Garnish cheesecake with Caramel Sauce before serving.