Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake

Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake (Adapted from Dorie Greenspan)

For the crust

scant 2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs (about 30 whole cookies, depending on size)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the apples

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths, divided
2 tablespoons brown sugar, divided

For the filling

24 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy cream

To prepare the crust

In a medium bowl, stir together cookie crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Drizzle in butter and stir to moisten the crumbs. Scoop crumbs into a 10" springform pan coated with nonstick spray and firmly press them over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Place pan into the freezer and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Transfer pan from the freezer into the oven and bake until the crust is set and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

To prepare the apples

In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high. Stir in half of the apples and cook, turning once, until they are golden, about 3 to 5 minutes. Scatter the apples with 1 tablespoon sugar and cook, tossing to coat, for 1 minute. Scrape apple mixture onto a plate and repeat with remaining apples, butter and sugar. When done, set aside to cool.

Bring a medium saucepan full of water to a boil.

To prepare the filling

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until very smooth. Add brown and granulated sugar and beat until combined. Mix in the cider, cinnamon and vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing just until combined after each. Mix in sour cream and heavy cream just until mixture is smooth.

Scoop about one-third of the batter into the baked gingersnap crust. Using a slotted spoon to let the excess juices drain away, lift apples off the plate and arrange them on top of the batter in the pan. Pour remaining batter over the top and smooth with an off-set spatula.

When water is boiling, pour water into an oven-safe casserole dish and place it on the bottom rack in the oven. Set springform pan on a rack set in the middle of the oven, above the casserole dish filled with water.

Bake cheesecake until it looks mostly set, but about a 2 to 3" ring in the center is still a bit jiggly, about 1 hour and 30 to 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, cover the cake loosely with foil to prevent over-browning. Gently remove pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool completely. Place pan into the refrigerator and let chill overnight before serving.

Makes about 16 servings.

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