Thursday, November 7, 2013

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie

Pumpkin pie is my dad's dessert of choice on Thanksgiving. Plain Jane pumpkin pie.

Not chocolate pumpkin pie—not caramel pecan pumpkin pie—and certainly not salted caramel apple cheesecake pie. And I respect that, I really do. Thanksgiving comes but once a year and the man wants his pie.

But if your family doesn't include a pumpkin purist, I suggest you switch it up with this delectable treat this holiday season! It combines some of the best flavors that fall has to offer and pairs perfectly with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. This fabulous layered concoction includes a tall, tasty graham cracker crust, caramel, pecans, apples, cheesecake and whipped cream. So yeah, it goes without saying that it's fantastically delicious.

Plus, it's make ahead, which comes in handy for the holidays. Make it a day or several days ahead of time and just leave it in the fridge to chill while you roast your turkey and such.

Yes, it's a bit labor intensive, but you can take a few short cuts and save yourself some time and effort. Use jarred caramel (they have salted caramel at Trader Joe's) and Cool Whip if you'd like.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker


For the Crust:
  • 1½ cup graham cracker crumbs (or about 12 full graham crackers, finely crushed)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup butter, melted

For the Caramel-Pecan Layer:
  • ¾ cup caramel sauce (I used Trader Joe's salted caramel)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

For the Apples:
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

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

For the Whipped Cream: (Optional- or use Cool Whip)
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar

For the Garnish:
  • caramel sauce 
  • chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Make the Crust: Whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add the melted butter and use a fork to combine. Dump the crumbs into a 9-inch springform pan (or a 10-inch pie plate if you don't have one) 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 and cool for at least 10 minutes.
Pour the caramel sauce over the bottom of the crust, gently spreading it into an even layer. Sprinkle the chopped pecans evenly over the caramel layer. Refrigerate while you prepare the apples.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Make the Apples: Melt the butter in a large skillet over low-medium heat and add the brown sugar, cinnamon 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 almost all of the liquid evaporates, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then add the apples on top of the caramel-pecan layer. Return the pan to the refrigerator.
For the Cheesecake: Using a stand or electric mixer, beat the softened cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until completely smooth. Add the egg and beat. 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 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.
Make the Whipped Cream: (Optional: Use Cool Whip, if wanted) 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.
Garnish & Serve: Drizzle with caramel and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Refrigerate!

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