For just a few dollars you can purchase a bag of apples and process them through a vintage apple press. Or, for just a few dollars more you can purchase a ready-to-go jug of apple cider. Vendors line the streets and sell "everything apple". If it contains apple (fritters, butter, slices of pie), or even hints of apple (quilts with an apple motif, apple cookbooks, etc) you will find it here.
Kinda hokey, but we look forward to this. And today I decided to carry the apple theme to our dinner as well. We had cider-braised turkey thighs with roasted root vegetables, and for dessert a caramel apple cheesecake pie. This recipe was adapted from the one on the blog Annie's Eats:
For the crust:
- 1½ cups crushed gingersnaps
- 3 tbsp. sugar
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- 5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- ½-¾ cup caramel*
- 1 cup chopped pecans
For the apple filling:
- 5 tbsp. unsalted butter
- ½ cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 5-6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
For the cheesecake
- 16 oz. cream cheese
- 2 cup sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
- ½ cup caramel*
- Chopped pecans
- To make the crust, preheat the oven to 375° F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment paper. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the gingersnap crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Toss with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened and the ingredients are evenly mixed. Transfer the mixture to the prepared springform pan and press the crumbs in an even layer over the pan bottom and about half to two-thirds of the way up the sides of the pan.
- Here's a slick trick for pressing the crumbs into the pan; instead of your fingers use a straight-sided drinking glass to press the crumbs against the bottom and sides of the pan. It's less messy and will give you a smoother, more even distribution of the crumbs.
- Bake for 6-8 minutes, until golden in color. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Pour a layer of caramel into the bottom of the crust and sprinkle evenly with the chopped pecans. Refrigerate the crust while you prepare the filling.
- To make the apple filling, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Mix in the brown sugar, salt and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute, until bubbling. Mix in the apple slices and toss well to coat. Cook over medium to medium-high heat until tender and most of the liquid has been reduced, about 15-20 minutes. Place the cooked apples in a colander to allow whatever juices remain to drain away--you don't want a soggy crust. Let cool for 10 few minutes and then pour into the prepared pie shell. Set aside.
- Reduce the heat of the oven to 350° F. To make the cheesecake layer, combine the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Mix in the vanilla, egg and lemon juice until fully incorporated and smooth, 1-2 minutes. Spread the cheesecake filling into an even layer over the top of the cooked apples in the crust. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. (Note--I doubled all of the ingredients for the cheesecake layer).
- To serve, carefully remove the sides of the springform pan. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form (being careful not to overbeat.) Spread gently over the top of the chilled cheesecake layer. Top with dollops of caramel sauce and swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle with a handful of chopped pecans if desired. Slice with a long, thin knife to serve.
*The original recipe calls for homemade caramel. I was concerned that refrigeration would make the caramel too hard and difficult to slice (and eat). I used Smucker's Sundae Syrup and it worked beautifully.