Apple Harvest Cheesecake

Apple Harvest Cheesecake Thanksgiving Dessert

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. 

 Look at all those spices! Mmm, mmm good!

Look at all those spices! Mmm, mmm good!

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?!

Apple Harvest Cheesecake Thanksgiving Dessert

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!).

Apple Harvest Cheesecake Thanksgiving Dessert
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Apple Harvest Cheesecake
Loaded with autumn spices, this apple cheesecake is the ultimate alternative to pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving.
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
To assemble the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, ground pecans, and butter. Once combined, press into a 10-inch cheesecake (untreated) or springform pan (greased) and place in freezer until ready to use.In a medium bowl, combine the chopped apple, raisins, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, cardamom, orange zest and vanilla extract. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and sugar on high speed until very smooth, about 3 minutes. The sugar should no longer be course if you rub the cream cheese and sugar mixture between your fingers. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Fold the apple mixture by hand, making sure it’s combined.Remove the crust from the freezer, and pour the filling over the crust. Evenly distribute the filling to the sides of the pan, and bake until the top is light brown and the center is slightly jiggly, about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes depending on your oven.Allow the cheesecake to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack for at least 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight before serving or decorating.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 15 servings

Do you have any special non-traditional Thanksgiving dishes that you like to serve?