Thursday, November 22, 2012

Salted caramel apple cheesecake pie

I have 5 words for you today that might change your life forever: salted caramel apple cheesecake pie.

 There is no pumpkin in this dessert. I simply liked it as the background.

So how did this amazing concoction come into being?

Well, let me tell you how I imagine it. Picture this: a sexy little Apple Pie walks into a bar. She's no ordinary apple pie though. She's a variety of apples, cooked down in butter and spices until tender and flavorful. And she's got a great crust on her- graham crackers with a layer of salted caramel and pecans. She's sweet. She's spicy. Everything an apple pie should be.

And then, as Apple Pie is sitting at the bar enjoying a drink, she looks over and locks eyes with Mr. Cheesecake. He's smooth. Yet not too sweet. Although they couldn't be any more different, there is just something about him she's drawn to...

Apparently he must have felt the same way, because 9 months after that fateful day at the bar, this amazing little thing was born:

Half apple pie and half whipped-cream topped cheesecake, all in a nutty, sweet crust.

Man, I sure am happy Apple Pie fell in love with Mr. Cheesecake, because can you imagine what would have happened had Deep Dish Dude won her affections that night?!?

Makings of the baby: graham cracker crust topped with salted caramel sauce and pecans, topped with cooked apples. A layer of cheesecake and whipped cream finish the grand dessert.

I too had a "love-at-first-sight" moment when I first saw the recipe for this pie. There was just something about it, and I knew it would be delicious. Luckily, I was right. The combination of all the flavors was absolute perfection!

There were however, a few minor changes I would make the next time I make this dessert.
  1. The ratio of apples : cheesecake was a little high (for my personal preference). I like me creamy, fat-ass desserts, so I wouldn't have minded just a bit more cheesecake and a leeetle bit less apple. So maybe I'll half the apples and double the cheescake next time.

  2. The sliced apples made it a bit difficult for pie consumption at times. Because they ended up "layered" on each other, and the apple layer was thick, cutting through them with your fork wasn't always the easiest thing. Instead, an apple slice would end up pulling out all its apple buddies, thereby toppling the whole slice o' pie. So next time I would probably make smaller pieces by slicing the apples, then cutting them into half or thirds after that.

  3. The boy said the whipped cream topping was the least important component of the dessert. Although I personally liked it, I see what he was saying. (I do try to listen to his advice, every once in a while at least...) Every other component was so strong and decadent (especially the crust, my favorite!), that the whipped cream isn't 100% necessary. Although I think it makes the dessert pretty, and adds a nice light creaminess to the pie, it can easily be eliminated.

  4. I'd use parchment paper at the bottom of my springform pan. After adding the caramel sauce to the crust and baking, the crust became hard and sugary. Insanely delicious, but a bit on the sticky and hard-to-cut side. Granted I have a crappy springform pan, but for ease of serving, parchment paper could only have helped.
But ultimately, the recipe was near perfection. So really no major tweaking required at all. And it didn't look to shabby either!


Happy Thanksgiving!

xoxo, 
Jacqueline

Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie, very slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

The pie is best made the day before, so plan accordingly...

Note: Personally, I would probably prefer this recipe with a little less apple and a little more cheesecake. You can see the ratios in my first photo and adjust to your preference. Although I followed the original recipe, which calls for 5 apples, I think 3 or 4 would suffice. I haven't tried increasing the cheesecake layer (by 1½ or 2 times the original amount), but I think that would be delicious! Things to try next time...

Ingredients

Graham Cracker Crust
1½ cup graham cracker crumbs (about 12 full graham crackers pulsed in a food processor)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon apple-pie spice (see this post for recipe), or ground cinnamon
⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted

Apple Pie Layer
¾ cup salted caramel sauce, see this post (for recipe and tips)
1 cup chopped pecans
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon apple-pie spice (see this post for recipe), or ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
3 - 5 Granny Smith apples (I used a combo of granny smith and honey crisp), peeled, cored, thinly sliced, and cut into smaller pieces

Cheesecake Layer
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Finishing Layer
¾ cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
extra caramel sauce and pecans

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

2. Make the Crust: Whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and apple-pie spice. Add the melted butter and use a fork to toss the mixture together until all of the crumbs are evenly moistened. Dump the crumbs into a 9-inch springform pan or a 10-inch pie plate and press them into an even layer over the bottom and two-thirds of the way up the sides of the pan. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.

3. Pour the salted caramel sauce over the bottom of the crust, gently spreading it into an even layer. Sprinkle the chopped pecans evenly over top of the caramel layer. Place the pan in the refrigerator while the apples are prepared.

4. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

5. Make the Apples: Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet (I used 10" and it was pretty full, but it worked!), then add the brown sugar, apple-pie spice, and salt, stirring to combine. Cook the mixture until it is gently bubbling, about 1 minute. Add the apples to the pan and toss to coat with the butter mixture. Cook until the apples are very tender and just about all of the liquid has been evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then add to the pan on top of the caramel-pecan layer, spreading the apples into an even layer. Return the pan to the refrigerator.

6. For the Cheesecake: Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until completely smooth. Add the egg and beat until completely combined. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract, and beat until completely smooth, another 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the cheesecake batter over the apples in the pan, smoothing it into an even layer. Bake until the cheesecake is set and doesn't jiggle in the middle, about 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

7. Make the Whipped Cream: Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment or a hand mixer, whip together the heavy cream and powdered sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.

8. Garnish and Serve the Pie: Remove the sides of the springform pan. Spread the whipped cream evenly over the top of the cheesecake layer. Dollop spoonfuls of the caramel sauce on top of the whipped cream and, using a butter knife or offset spatula, gently swirl the caramel into the whipped cream. Sprinkle additional chopped pecans on top. Serve immediately. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.

If there are any leftovers...

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