How is it that Thanksgiving is just next week?! Although, it is definitely feeling more like Christmas when I gaze out the window... and see that white stuff falling from the sky.
I've been spending the last couple days planning out my Thanksgiving dinner menu. For the very first time, my husband and I won't be returning home to Illinois to visit our families for the holiday. (What?!) Might have to do with the fact that our little baby is due to arrive any day now! (In fact, he was due to arrive on Saturday, and has yet to make an appearance. Womp. womp. Hopefully soon!)
However, I am excited at the chance for us to create some new Thanksgiving memories here in Lima. My parents will be coming for the holiday, so it will be pretty low-key, just the 4, well 5, of us. (Though I don't think the little guy will eat all that much turkey...) We ordered a smoked turkey from Boots BBQ (inside Chief Northland), so the hard work is taken care of! We just get to have fun with the sides and desserts.
I had some fun testing out this Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie as an alternative to the typical pumpkin or apple pie at the Thanksgiving table. It's got everything you could want in a dessert - crisp graham cracker crust, with a layer of caramel and toasted pecans, tender cinnamon apples, and then a gorgeous cheesecake topping. It's all topped with fluffy whipped cream, and man-oh-man it was delicious! The perfect combination of sweet & tart flavors, with a great contrast of textures with the creamy cheesecake and crunchy pecans and crust. If you dare to go outside the Thanksgiving dessert comfort zone, I highly recommend this recipe!
Start with a simple graham crust - graham cracker crumbs, a little sugar, some melted butter. Press it into a springform pan and bake at 350*F about 10 minutes until toasted. Once it cools, add a layer of caramel and toasted pecans in the bottom.
Now for the apple filling. You could definitely use a canned variety, but the homemade is so much better! Cook sliced apples in a saucepan with some butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon until tender. Spread over the caramel-pecan layer in the crust.
And then the cheesecake layer. Simple beat together a brick of cream cheese with some sugar, an egg, and a little vanilla extract. Spread that over the apple layer.
Pop the cheesecake pie into a 350*F oven for about 30 minutes, and then chill at least 4 hours before serving. Then, whip up some cream into stiff peaks and spread over the pie. (You could also use Cool Whip... I won't tell!)
Drizzle the whole thing with caramel and sprinkle with more toasted pecans. What a gorgeous presentation! You can definitely make this 2-3 days ahead of the holiday, too. Or, if you are really a planner, prepare the cheesecake pie except for the whipped cream, and double wrap it with foil and store in the freezer. The day of Thanksgiving, all you'd have to do is thaw, spread on the whipped cream, and serve!
Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie
Yield: One 9-inch pie
- For the crust
- 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- For the apple filling
- ½ cup caramel sauce
- ¾ cup chopped pecans, toasted
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 6 tart apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
- For the cheesecake layer
- 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- For the whipped topping and garnish
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- ⅓ cup powdered sugar
- additional caramel sauce
- additional chopped toasted pecans
1. For the crust, preheat the oven to 375*F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Toss together until evenly coated. Press into the bottom and about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake 10 minutes, until golden and toasted. Set aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, make the apple filling. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon and cook until bubbly, about 1 minute. Add in apple slices and toss well to coat. Cook over medium heat about 20-25 minutes, until apples are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. Let cool slightly.
3. Spread caramel sauce into bottom of prepared crust. Sprinkle with chopped, toasted pecans. (To toast pecans, bake at 350*F for about 7-9 minutes until fragrant.) Spread cooked apple mixture over the top of caramel-pecan layer.
4. 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. Add vanilla, egg, and lemon juice; beat until smooth. Spread cheesecake mixture over apples.
5. Bake at 350*F for 30 minutes until cheesecake layer is set. (A knife inserted in the center of the cheesecake portion should come out clean.) Let cool completely and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
6. To serve, remove cheesecake from springform pan. (Slide a knife around the edge before removing the outer ring.) Beat heavy cream using hand mixer or stand mixer until soft peaks form; add powdered sugar. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Spread over top of cheesecake. Drizzle with additional caramel sauce and toasted pecans.
Source: adapted from Annie's Eats