Cooking with seasonal ingredients is both festive and good on the wallet.  I grabbed 3 lbs of gorgeous Gala apples for $1.99 at the grocery store and contemplated how to best use them.  Just so happened that I also got 10 tubs of cream cheese for free with this coupon and that we were invited to a friend’s house for dinner. Perfect storm for the birth of this cheesecake!

I’ve seen recipes for Caramel Apple Cheesecakes before, but after hunting and reading reviews, none of them looked like the one I wanted to eat.  So, I combined this recipe for NY cheesecake, with this recipe for caramel, made up the crust and the apple mixture as I went.

The cake literally came out exactly how I envisioned in my head – THAT NEVER HAPPENS! In case you have some apples and cream cheese on hand, here is my collective recipe:

Crust:

16 Cinnamon Graham Cracker Sheets (tip: if you can’t find the cinnamon ones, use regular + ½ tsp. cinnamon + ½ tsp. sugar)
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Toss the graham crackers in the food processor and pulse until you have fine crumbs.  Add the melted butter and pulse again until incorporated.  Coat a 9″ Springform pan with cooking spray and press the crust into the bottom and up the sides as far as it will go. Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Apple Filling:

8 Gala Apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 tbsp. butter
¼ c. water
½ c. brown sugar
¼ tsp. cinnamon  (tip: add a sprinkle of any fall spices you like – ginger, all-spice, cloves etc. would all be yummy)
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
2 tbsp. honey

Heat the butter in a pan over medium high heat. Add the diced apples and cook until the apples are soft but still hold their shape and start to brown on all sides.  De-glaze the pan with water. Immediately add the remaining ingredients and cook until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce thickens on the apples.

Cheesecake Filling:

(tip: this makes a VERY tall cheesecake)
4 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese
1 ½ c. sugar
¾ c. milk
4 eggs
1 c. sour cream
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
¼ c. all-purpose flour

Beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Blend in milk, and mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Add in sour cream, vanilla and flour. Beat until smooth. Pour a cup of the  filling into prepared crust. Sprinkle apples and sauce evenly over the filling.  Top with the remaining filling, completely covering the apples. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Turn the oven off, and let cake cool in oven with the door closed for 3 hours to prevent cracking. (tip: this is a must! it works beautifully)

Caramel Topping:

1 c.+ 2 tbsp. sugar
¾ c.+ 2 tbsp. heavy cream
2 tbsp. honey
tsp. light corn syrup
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Stir together the sugar, cream, honey and corn syrup and slowly bring to a boil. Cook over medium high, stirring occasionally until golden brown and bubbly (temp reaches 230F measured by a candy thermometer). Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Let cool for 10 minutes.  Carefully pour onto the center of your cooled cheesecake and allow to spread out uniformly. Continue to cool for 1 hour to let the caramel set.

Store the cheesecake in the fridge and drizzle the slices with any extra caramel sauce.

If your cheesecake pan is short or you just like a more-apple-than-cheesecake ratio, you could easily half the cheesecake filling and it still would be delicious!