Bobby Flay's Caramel Apple Cheesecake

Reprinted from Bobby Flay's Throwdown! by Bobby Flay with Stephanie Banyas and Miriam Garron. Copyright 2010. Photographs copyright 2010 by Ben Fink. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.

Bobby Flay's Caramel Apple Cheesecake

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    Ingredients

    Cooking spray 1/2 cup heavy cream
    8 whole graham crackers 2 cups apple juice (for apples)
    1 cup lightly toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped 1/4 cup granulated sugar (for apples)
    2 tablespoons light brown sugar 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold (for apples)
    5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (for apples)
    1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 3 Fuji apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (for apples)
    1 tablespoon grated orange zest 1/4 cup Calvados or other apple brandy (for apples)
    3 (8-ounce) packages Philadelphia cream cheese, at room temperature 1/2 cup crme frache (for apples)
    1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely packed light muscovado sugar 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (for Apple Caramel Sauce)
    4 large eggs, at room temperature 3/4 cup heavy cream, hot (for Apple Caramel Sauce)
    1 large vanilla bean, seeds scraped out, seeds and pods reserved Pinch of fine salt (for Apple Caramel Sauce)
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 3 tablespoons Calvados or other apple brandy (for Apple Caramel Sauce)
    1/2 teaspoon fine salt 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (for Apple Caramel Sauce)

    directions

    Total:
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    • 1

      TO MAKE CHEESECAKE: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.

    • 2

      Combine the graham crackers, 1/2 cup of the walnuts, and the brown sugar in a food processor and process until finely ground. With the motor running, add the butter through the feed tube and process until the mixture just comes together. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan, place it on a baking sheet, and bake in the oven until light golden brown and just set, about 8 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

    • 3

      Combine 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar and the orange zest in a food processor, and process until combined.

    • 4

      Put the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the orange sugar, remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and the muscovado sugar, and beat until the sugar is incorporated and the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until just incorporated, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the vanilla seeds (save the pod for the apples), vanilla extract, and salt, and beat until combined. Add the heavy cream and mix until just combined.

    • 5

      Scrape the mixture into the cooled crust. Set the springform pan on a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, and fold the foil up the sides to surround it. Set the pan in a large roasting pan. Pour hot tap water into the roasting pan until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the springform pan (the foil will keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake). Bake until the edges of the cake are slightly puffed and set and the center still jiggles, about 55 minutes.

    • 6

      Turn off the heat, prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon, and leave the cheesecake in the water bath in the oven for 1 hour.

    • 7

      Remove the springform from the water bath, place it on a wire rack, and cool to room temperature, 2 hours. Then cover the pan and refrigerate until the cheesecake is chilled through, at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

    • 8

      To cook the apples, bring the apple juice, sugar, and reserved vanilla bean pod to a boil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Cook until slightly thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup, 10 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean pod and discard.

    • 9

      Stir in the butter until melted. Add the apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized and soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the Calvados and simmer until reduced by half. Transfer the apples to a plate and let cool slightly.

    • 10

      To serve, remove the foil and sides from the springform pan. Spread the crème fraîche over the cheesecake. Top with the warm apple topping, drizzle liberally with the caramel sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup chopped walnuts. Serve additional caramel sauce on the side.

    • 11

      TO MAKE APPLE-CARAMEL SAUCE: Combine the sugar and ¼ cup water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook, swirling the pot occasionally to even out the color, until amber, 10 to 12 minutes.

    • 12

      Slowly add the heavy cream and salt to the caramel. Whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat, and stir in the Calvados and vanilla extract. Serve warm.

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