Apple Harvest Cheesecake
You guys. I can’t believe it’s nearly Thanksgiving. It feels like it was only yesterday that I was snuggled up on the couch eating Halloween candy while watching Hocus Pocus. Where did the time go?! Did I suddenly transform into Sleeping Beauty and sleep for several weeks and not realize it? Geez, Louise. I can’t imagine how those of you with children feel.
Being that Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I felt it was only appropriate to share one of my go-to Thanksgiving desserts that’s not pumpkin or apple pie (even though I’d happily devour a slice of either pie right now.) For whatever reason, most people don’t think of serving cheesecake on Thanksgiving and I have to ask, why the heck not?! For one thing, it’s something that can be made at least a day in advance, which means you’re not stressing over making a dessert on Thanksgiving. I typically make it a week before and freeze it (thaw it by simply moving it from the freezer into the refrigerator for about 24-hours.) Another bonus of serving a cheesecake is that it serves a ton of people. A 10-inch cheesecake will serve at least 10 people, more if you don’t serve gigantic slices to dinner guests.
To me, this cheesecake is the essence of fall and you can proudly serve it throughout autumn and into winter when apples are at their peak. If you’re like my husband, you might have just stopped and asked yourself if I’m seriously making a cheesecake with apples. You bet I am. Alongside the apples, you can expect a traditional graham cracker crust (with ground pecans for added flavor), golden raisins, and an array of traditional autumn spices. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?!
For years, making cheesecakes really intimidated me. Most cheesecakes have a lot of ingredients, and if you don’t do everything just right, you’ll probably end up with a cracked cheesecake. After many years of trial and error, I’ve learned that the best way to avoid a cracked cheesecake is allowing all of the ingredients to come to room temperature on their own (meaning no sticking things into the microwave, or in a bowl that’s recently been steamed with hot water.) Don’t be tempted to add all of the eggs at once—add them one at a time, thoroughly mixing between additions. In the event of cracks, it’s not a disaster—simply pipe out some whipped cream that’s been whipped with cinnamon and nutmeg and cover the cracks!
My advice to make sure you’re giving everything ample time to come to room temperature and completely combine is open a glass of wine and enjoy a couple glasses of dry Riesling (ask your sommelier or wine shop merchant for a Riesling with apple aromas!).
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and ground in a food processor
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 48 ounces (or 6 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 6 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract