Of all the cheesecakes I have come to know and love, I think I like apple cheesecake the best. That is to say I like it better than any cheesecake made by Juniors, Veniero's and perhaps even my mother (if not for the fact I got this recipe from her. That said, she might be offended that I don't like her "Famous Cheesecake" better). This apple cheesecake recipe truly is killer.
This was my first time making it and throughout the process I was a bit worried that I might somehow mess it up. Fortunately, it came out a-okay. Its actually a pretty simple recipe and in retrospect seems difficult to get wrong.
I'm not sure that I can emphasize enough how highly I recommend this.
Step 1: Go Get Stuff
You will need:
37 Nilla wafers
4 Tablespoons of butter
1 Tablespoon of sugar
4 Apples (1/2 Golden Delicious and 1/2 Granny Smith)
2 softened 8-ounce cream cheese bars
1 cup of sugar (in 2 halves)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Specialty Kitchen Stuff
9" springform pan
Bowls, utensils, etc
Step 2: Crush Cookies
Place 37 Nilla wafers in a large sealable bag (not 36 or 38, but 37) and seal the bag shut. Bash the cookies with a large cup or jar until they are crushed into fine cookie crumbs.
Step 3: Peel and Slice
Peel, core and slice the apples by whatever technique you find appropriate.
(After peeling and slicing the first apple my camera person pushed me aside and told me I was doing it wrong. She proceeded to peel the next two apples until my girlfriend came into the kitchen, pushed her aside and told her that she was doing it wrong. In short, there were three different people and three different ways to peel and slice apples. I think the take home is that there is no right way to peel and apple.)
Step 4: Bake the Apples
Lay your apples out on a tray such that none overlap. Cover the tray with aluminum foil and bake it in the oven at 400 degrees for ten minutes. Immediately remove the tray and uncover it.
Leave the oven on to pre-heat.
Step 5: Melt the Butter
While the apples are in the oven, take a moment and melt the butter. This typically takes 30 seconds to a minute in the microwave.
Step 6: Crust
Mix together in a large bowl the Nilla wafer crumbs, the melted butter and a tablespoon of sugar. Continue mixing until it is all good and blended. You will see wet crumbs start to form.
Evenly distribute the crumbs over the bottom of your 9" springform pan. Pack them down with your hand.
Step 7: Make the Filling
In a large bowl put two 8 ounce bars of cream cheese, 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla and 1/2 a cup of sugar (or a tad bit less). Blend these together with your hand mixer until it is light and fluffy.
Add two eggs to the bowl and beat them in with hand mixer just until they are just combined and the mixture is creamy.
Step 8: Putting It All Together
Pour the cream cheese filling on top of the Nilla wafer crust and make sure it is spread out evenly throughout the pan.
Carefully line the top of the cream cheese filling with baked apple slices. The apple slices have a tendency to rip apart, so it helps to transfer them onto the cake with a fork or spatula.
Step 9: Sugar on Top
In a small bowl combine 1/2 cup of sugar with a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Sprinkle this mixture atop the apples.
Step 10: Bake
Bake the cheese cake in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.
Take it out and let it start to cool. After a few minutes, go around the edge of the cake with a sharp pairing knife to separate it from the springform. This will help in preventing the cheesecake from cracking later when it is released.
Step 11: Free at Last!
Release the cheesecake from the springform and let it cool for a while longer. When it is about at room temperature, cover it in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and stick it in the refrigerator overnight to settle (or for a good part of the day).