Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Caramel Apple Cheesecake (Gluten Free!!)

I love fall! – Especially the fall that happens BEFORE the rainy season sets in.  Those couple precious weeks when the leaves vibrantly change colours, the lake settles and turquoise blues and emerald green hues glisten.  Crisp. Fresh. Spicey.  What’s not to love?!? Caramel Apples to me screams fall.  The ooey-gooey caramel, the crisp apples, even better when seasoned with a hint of cinnamon and brown sugar. Mmmmmmmmm.

We were headed over to a friend’s place for dinner…first time. I ask my typical, what can I bring (asides from WINE) … any allergies… the basics… and was given the no-gluten for most of the household… for me, that’s a YIPPEE!  I love changing and adapting recipes.  Now I could of gone with the basic Pavlova (as if you’ve followed me for a bit, you know I’m addicted.) however, that’s too easy – besides what if not EVERYONE’s as addicted as me?! *GASP*  SO – I went for something a little more “fall-ish”.  Then adapted the crust to suit the household – sans-gluten!  YUM YUM.  It’s decadent.  It’s layered with all things yum. From the comments of some of my new favorite kids….I’m thinking it’s friggin’ awesome!

Maybe because it’s been a year since we’ve seen it, maybe it was the timing… however that past few weeks driving to the lake, then around the lake and home have really showcased the autumn colours.  They leaves seemed just that much brighter… the air, that much crisper.

At the same time… the wind is becoming to have a little bite to it… the evenings a little cooler… all signs Jack Frost is starting to stir…  until then… get outside.. enjoy a hot apple cider.. or 2.  Campfires seem all that much warmer on a cool Fall night…  annnnd maybe a slice or 2 of this Caramel Apple Cheesecake will get ya through the evening chill…. Just sayin’….
Caramel Apple Cheesecake
Crust Layer:
·         2 cups pecan pieces
·         1 package of Gluten-Free Pecan Shortbread cookies
·         5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
·         1 tsp cinnamon
Caramel Layer:
·         2 cups of caramels
·         1 can sweetened condensed milk
·         ½  cup chopped pecan pieces
Apple Filling:
·         4 tablespoons unsalted butter
·         ½ cup brown sugar
·         ¼ teaspoon salt
·         1 teaspoon cinnamon
·         5 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and sliced or chopped thinly
Cheesecake layer:
·         8oz package of cream cheese
·         ¼ cup sugar
·         1 tsp vanilla extract
·         1 large egg
·         1 tablespoon lemon juice
Top Layer:
·         1 cup whipping cream
·         4 tablespoon icing sugar
·         ¼ cup caramel (you should have left over from the caramel layer, heat up slowly if required to soften)
To make the crust:
-         preheat the oven to 375° F.  Line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment paper.
-          In a Food Processor, place pecan pieces and pulse on low until finely processed.

-         Add shortbread cookies (I used Gluten free shortbread cookies)

-  Pulse until finely processed, and when pinched between 2 fingers, starts to stick together.

-  Place mixture in medium mixing bowl, add melted butter, cinnamon

-  Toss with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened and the ingredients are evenly mixed. Transfer the mixture to the prepared springform pan and press the crumbs in an even layer over the pan bottom and about half to two-thirds of the way up the sides of the pan

-         Bake for 6-8 minutes,  or until golden in color.  Let cool for about 10 minutes.  
To make Caramel Layer:
-         Place caramels into a medium sized sauce pan, add sweetened condensed milk.

-         Over medium-high heat, and stirring frequently, melt caramels and milk together until mixture is completely smooth.  

-         Pour a layer of caramel into the bottom of the crust and sprinkle evenly with the chopped pecans.  Refrigerate the crust while you prepare the filling.

To make the apple filling:
-          Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Mix in the brown sugar, salt and cinnamon, apple slices and toss well to coat.  

-         Cook over medium to medium-high heat until tender and most of the liquid has been reduced, about 15-20 minutes.  Let cool for a few minutes and pour on top of  the prepared crust & caramel .  Set aside.

-     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.  

-         Mix in the vanilla, egg and lemon juice until fully incorporated and smooth, 1-2 minutes. 
-         Spread the cheesecake filling into an even layer over the top of the cooked apples in the crust.  

-         Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. (about 30 minutes)  Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.

-         Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Top Layer and to serve:

-          Carefully remove the sides of the spring-form pan and place on serving plate

-         In your mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream and icing sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. 

-         Spread gently over the top of the chilled cheesecake layer.  

-         Top with dollops of remaining caramel sauce (again heating slightly if needed to soften up a bit) and swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect.

-         Slice and serve!

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