Sorry for the hiatus. I ran into a couple of publishing issues with the blog but, thanks to my wonderful hubby, I think all the kinks have finally been worked out and I can continue to post normally. I have tons of recipes backlogged, just waiting to be shared!
Let's begin with pie. This pie is the perfect Fall dessert. Not too heavy (believe it or not) but perfectly decadent and unique. It is a cross between an apple pie and a cheesecake. Enveloped in a graham cracker crust are layers of caramel sauce (store-bought or homemade), chopped pecans, caramelized apples, and vanilla cheesecake. Divine.
One of Paul's co-workers invited us over to have dinner with her family and taste her award-winning chili recipe. It was absolutely amazing and I will have to post that recipe here as soon as I make a batch up myself (she was kind enough to share the recipe!). I brought this dessert along to finish the meal and we all enjoyed generous (aka HUGE) slices. I can't wait to make this again.
The recipe definitely takes time, but can be made in small steps. I actually made this over a two-day period and it was extremely easy and low stress.
My only regret is that I was unable to snag a photograph of the un-molded/sliced pie. Since it was my first time making this recipe, I was too afraid to remove the sides of the spring-form pan before heading over to the party in the even that the whole thing did not so I just took a picture of the top (which doesn't look like much). But really, I was not going to risk the whole thing falling apart shortly before heading over there and having to hand over an imploded dessert to our hostess.
Paul declared this one of his favorite desserts, which is no surprise given his love for all things caramel. Combine that with apple pie (his favorite Fall dessert) and he was in heaven.
And no, Matthew did not touch it. He gorged himself on cornbread.
Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie
from Mimi Hodge, seen and slightly adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventures
For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 12 full graham crackers)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
5 1/3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 - 3/4 cup caramel (I recommend Mrs. Richardson's Butterscotch Caramel Sauce)
1 cup chopped pecans
For the Apple Filling:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
5-6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
For the Cheesecake Layer:
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the Topping:
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1/4-1/2 cup caramel
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with a circle of parchment paper. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter in a medium bowl. Use a fork to stir until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Transfer the mixture to the prepared springform pan and press into an even layer over the bottom and about two-thirds of the way up the sides of the pan. Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until golden in color. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and 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 make the filling. Turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees.
Next, prepare the apple filling. Melt the butter in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, salt and cinnamon, stirring to combine, and cook until gently bubbling, about 1 minute. Add the apples and toss to coat. Cook until the slices are tender, and most of the liquid in the pan has been reduced, about 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes then add the apples to the crust on top of the caramel and pecans.
Next, make the cheesecake layer. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until smooth. Add the vanilla, egg and lemon juice and beat until incorporated and smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Pour the cheesecake batter over the apples in the crust and spread into an even layer. Bake until the cheesecake is set, about 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool to room temperature then refrigerate for at least 4 hours before adding the topping.
To make the topping, add the heavy cream to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently spread the whipped cream over the cheesecake. Dollop spoonfuls of the caramel sauce on top of the whipped cream and swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect (this didn't work out too great for me, but I've never had a real pronounced artistic flair!). Garnish with chopped pecan, if desired. Store, covered, in the refrigerator. Remove spring-form pan and cut into slices with a sharp, thin knife that has been run under hot water. Enjoy!