Not sure why I used Italian there… I’m pretty sure that cheesecake originated in Greece. Maybe I’m just trying to dazzle you with my command of foreign languages…. ooooooh. Yeah. That’s it. Actually, that’s a big lie. I used Italian for a reason; one that I’ll explain later.
As you might have guessed by reading the first paragraph, I made cheesecake. Not just a regular cheesecake, but I remade those Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars that I blogged about back on April 7th. I switched up the recipe and made a graham cracker crumb crust like I was considering. I should have read my blog though and made one more change. I only put in the 3 apples the recipe calls for and not 4 like I did originally. Never again will I make this mistake! I changed it on my copy of the recipe. If anyone would like this recipe, with my edits pictured below, just let me know and I’ll email it to you.
The only things missing from the above picture are my mixer, a butter knife, a fork and a big wooden spoon. I ended up using all three of my ceramic mixing bowls, every one of my measuring cups and each one of my measuring spoons. It’s an involved recipe, but it’s broken down into pretty easy to follow steps. Those with sharp eyes will notice Toni Basil, my basil plant in the back left corner. No basil went into this dessert. She’s just a groupie. I didn’t end of needing any of the graham crumbs in the bag. I had exactly enough for my crust in the box.
I found a recipe for graham cracker crumb crust on allrecipes.com and just doubled it for my trusty Anchor Hocking 9×13 baking dish. I thought that the addition of cinnamon to the crust would work nicely with the apples (that also have cinnamon). We’ll see though. This was the first time I’ve ever made a graham crust from scratch, so the jury is still out until the finished product is taste tested. I’m usually not a huge fan of cinnamon and was considering omitting it from the crust. It came together rather quickly and seemed like it was a good amount for my baking dish.
I decided to do the next parts of the recipe out of order. I wanted the apples to marinate in the sugar and cinnamon for a bit while I prepped the rest of the dessert. Seemed like a good idea and I was pleased with the results. There was a nice syrup created in the bottom of the bowl from the sugar and the juices from the cut apples. Like I said earlier, I cut up three fairly large Granny Smiths for this and I really should have done a fourth. I tried to spread the apples out evenly, so I hope the lack of extra isn’t noticed too much. Looking at the picture again, it looks like I could have done a slightly better covering job. Next time.
When it came to mixing up the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and eggs together, I ran into a bit of a problem. Our hand mixer no longer mixes. It hums and smells funny when you plug it in and turn it on. I tried using my hands (very messy), a fork (almost effective… almost), a wooden spoon (was trying to smooth it out against the side of the bowl), before I had a bit of a brainstorm. I got one of the beaters and inserted it into the chuck of my trusty old Black & Decker hand drill. Worked pretty darn good. The cream cheese mixture smoothed out nicely and poured out easily onto the prepared crust.
I really need to find some more desserts (or make up some) that require a streusel topping. So easy to make and kicks up the finished product to another level. One of those comfort food desserts, like an apple crumble.
This is another part of the recipe where you really need to goes hands-on and break things down between your fingers. I bought a couple of boxes of nitrile gloves from Costco awhile back and they’re awesome for doing just about anything in the kitchen. Keeps your hands free of grease, butter, batter, dough, blood, soap suds, etc. Good stuff.
After everything was thoroughly mixed, I crumbled it onto the apple pieces and the cheesecake mixture. Perfect coverage with this amount. Looked pretty darn good even before I put it in the oven. Needed to bake for 40 minutes though… a bit too wiggly-jiggly thanks to the cheesecake center.
Now comes one of my roomie’s favorite parts: The adding of the caramel sauce. I know I could make my own caramel sauce (and have a couple of recipes that I’d like to try one of these days), but just opening up a can of Eagle Brand Dulce de Leche is so much easier. That’s where the Italian in the title comes from. A single can covers the top of the cheesecake nicely. I had to use a small rubber spatula to get all of that tasty goodness out of the can and onto the streusel, because BECAUSE! Just take a look at a close up of that gooey caramel heaven. You can almost taste it. I know it kind of looks a bit soupy, but it almost all soaks into the streusel as it’s cooling. It’s hard to wait, but if it’s anything like the last one, it’ll be well worth the wait.
Now that it’s cooled enough (it’s been on the counter while I wrote this up), I’ll toss it into the fridge (read: place it gently on the bottom shelf of the fridge) and it’ll be ready for a test drive tomorrow. If I can remember, I’ll take a picture of a piece of it and add it to the end of this posting.
As I’ve been writing this, I’ve been thinking about my bake ware and what I could do to change this up a bit. Half recipes, splitting it into 4 mini pans, etc. The idea that’s sticking with me the most though, is to pick up a set of spring-form pans. I haven’t had a set for a very long time and I think a nice 10-12” one would work nicely with this recipe. It would remove the necessity of the tinfoil currently lining my baking dish, and would present much nicer with the traditional round cheesecake form. Now… just have to find a nice (cheap) spring-form pan.
——————– UPDATE ——————–
I wasn’t sure which picture to post, without the flash or with, so I decided to put both of them up here to highlight different aspects.
The first picture shows how the caramel has started to crystalize on top of the streusel, the fluffiness of the cheesecake and how dense the graham crumb crust turned out.
The second picture shows the chunks of apple and just how ooey gooey good it is.
Some notes on the crust: Both Allen and I thought it was better than the shortbread crust of the original recipe, but could still use a couple of changes. Next time, I’ll omit the cinnamon (there’s a teaspoon of it in there – that’s as much as there is on the apples), I won’t pack the crumbs down as tight as I did this time and I won’t pre-bake it. While it wasn’t burnt, it did seem a bit on the well done side. That being said, it’s still pretty darn good.