With the holidays creeping ever closer, we all have sweet things on the brain. From gingerbread houses to steamed puddings, this is sugar’s peak season. Now, obviously, a cookie obsession takes hold of us every December, but this year, with the COVID of it all, the need for dessert magic is all the more acute. For many of us, the treats we leave on the porches of friends and family will be the closest we physically get to one another. So, everything we can’t say with a hug will have to be said with a box of cookies or a tray of squares or, in my case, a quarter of this Apple Spice Cheesecake. No pressure or anything.
Now, there are the typical treats we all know and love around this time of year. Shortbreads, molasses cookies, and chocolate truffles are all classic holiday gifts. But as I mentioned above, this year’s crop of delicacies will have to shoulder far more emotional weight than their forebears. In other words, it’s time to bring out big guns. Go the extra mile and make a dessert that is two treats in one. And if it takes some time to make, well, think of it as the lockdown distraction you’ve been waiting for.
This Apple Spice Cheesecake is absolutely the dessert for the job. Crafting a good cheesecake takes focus, patience, and it’s hella distracting. Oh! And no one in their right mind is going to say no to cheesecake…except the lactose intolerant, I suppose. A bite of cheesecake is a simple pleasure we can all get behind.
Now, this Apple Spice Cheesecake is really two desserts in one – apple pie and New York Style Cheesecake. If that sounds excessive, I question whether you’ve noticed what a dumpster fire 2020 is. If there were. ever a year to pile it on in terms of butter and sugar, it’s 2020. We deserve all the desserts we can handle. So, check your reservations at the door and dive into this creamy, divine, and admittedly reckless Apple Spice Cheesecake. ‘Tis the season after all.
Apple Spice Cheesecake with Calvados
- Large Roasting Pan or Oven-Safe vessel
- 9" Springfrom pan
Spiced Graham Cracker Crust
- 2 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¾ tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp mace
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly
- 4 (250g) packages creamcheese softened
- ½ cup Greek yogurt room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
- 5 eggs room temperature
Calvados Apple Topping
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 5 apples (I used Russets) peeled, cored and cut into wedges
- 2 oz Calvados* or regular brandy
- ½. cup +1 tbsp water divided
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- Fill a large roasting pan with 2” of water. Make sure a 9” springform pan will fit comfortably in the center. Place the pan in the middle of the oven and begin preheating the oven to 450°F.
- Wrap the base of a springform pan with tin foil and click it back into place. Grease the side of the pan with butter and set aside.
For the Crust
- Place the crumbs, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, mace, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Pour the melted butter over top and mix until the mixture resembles wet sand.
- Press the mixture into the base and up the sides of the prepared springform pan and set aside.
For the Filling
- Place the softened cream cheese in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the Greek yogurt, vanilla, and salt. Beat on medium until no lumps remain, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. When the cream cheese mixture is smooth, add the granulated sugar and beat until well-integrated.
- Take the mixing bowl off of the mixer and place a fine-mesh strainer over top. Crack the eggs into the strainer and whisk until only the membranes remain in the strainer. Discard.
- Return the bowl to the mixer and beat the eggs into the cream cheese mixture until well integrated. Pour the finished batter into the graham cracker crumb crust and break any air bubbles that form on the surface with a toothpick.
- Place the cheesecake in the center of the water bath and bake for 20 minutes. Once the 20 minutes have passed, turn the oven off and leave the oven door ajar for 10 minutes.
- Close the door and turn the oven on to 300°F. Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes or until the internal temperature in the center reaches 155°F.
- Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let cool in the pan for 1 hour. Then remove the outer ring and let the cake cool at room temperature for 4 hours before transferring it to the fridge and chilling it overnight.
For the Apples
- Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the apples and briefly saute over medium heat – you’re more or less coating them in the butter. Pour in the calvados, a ½ cup of the water, sugar, and cinnamon. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and let cook for 10 minutes or until the apples are tender and liquid is reduced.
- Whisk to combine the cornstarch and the remaining water to form a slurry. Take the lid off of the apples and pour the cornstarch mixture over top. Stir until the liquid thickens and becomes glossy.
- Take the apples off of the heat and transfer to a bowl. Let cool for 30 minutes before spooning the apples on top of the cheese cake. Serve immediately.