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Bringing Home the Bakin'

bake my cake and eat it, too

Waking up to the sound of booming thunder and pounding rain, I knew I would be stuck inside all day because of the dreary weather.  I decided it would be a good opportunity to bake.  After scouring through just a few (8?) cookbooks, I found what I was going to make: Brown Sugar – Apple Cheesecake.  I don’t actually like cheesecake – at all – but it sounded so good, and I do know a lot of people who love cheesecake, so I figured I would be able to find some people to eat it.  Unfortunately for me, I did not just have multiple packs of cream cheese on hand, nor did I even have any eggs.  Thus, I did what any determined baker would do: I ventured out into the torrential downpour to the store.  The cheesecake wasn’t too difficult, but it did take a decent amount of time to complete (not to mention the 6+ hours it has to be chilled!).  Regardless, it was surprisingly delicious, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t like cheesecake.  I would definitely recommend this!

Brown Sugar – Apple Cheesecake : Dorie Greenspan

For the Crust
30 gingersnaps (or a scant 2 cups graham cracker crumbs) – I used gingersnaps (so good!)
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
For the Apples
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter
3 large Golden Delicious or Fuji apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths (I used fuji)
2 tbsp (packed) light brown sugar
For the Filling
1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
6 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp apple cider (I omitted this)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy cream
Apple jelly, for glazing, or confectioner’s sugar, for dusting (optional) (instead, I made extra apples for the top)

To Make the Crust:
Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan.
Put the gingersnaps in a food processor and whir until you have crumbs; you should have a scant 2 cups. (If you are using graham cracker crumbs, just put them in the food processor.) Pulse in the sugar and cinnamon, if you’re using it, then pour over the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are moistened. Turn the crumbs into the springform pan and, using your fingertips, firmly press them evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan as far as they’ll go. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven. (The crust can be covered and frozen for up to 2 months.)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Remove the pan from the freezer and wrap the bottom tightly in aluminum foil, going up the sides. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust is set and lightly browned. Transfer to a rack to cool while you make the apples and the filling. Leave the oven at 350 degrees F.

To Make the Apples:
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, toss in half of the apple slices and cook, turning once, until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the apples with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and cook them, turning, just until coated, another minute or so. Scrape the apples onto a plate, wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining apples. Let the apples cool while you make the filling.

Getting Ready to Bake:
Have a roasting pan large enough to hold the springform pan at hand. Put a kettle of water on to boil.

To Make the Filling:
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed, scraping down the bowl often, for about 4 minutes, or until it is velvety smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes. Beat in the cider, vanilla, and cinnamon. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Finally, beat in the sour cream and heavy cream, beating just until the batter is smooth.

Pour about one third of the batter into the baked crust. Drain the apples by lifting them off the plate with a slotted spoon or spatula, and spoon them into the pan. Cover with the remaining batter and, if needed, jiggle the pan to even the top. Place the springform pan in the roasting pan and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 to 45 minutes, covering the cake loosely with a foil tent at the 45-minute mark. The cake will rise evenly and crack around the edges, and it should be fully set except, possibly, in the very center–if the center shimmies, that’s just fine. Gently transfer the cake, still in the pan, to a cooling rack and let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it for at least 6 hours; overnight would be better.

Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the crust, open the pan’s latch and release and remove the sides.

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