Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake



Thank you to Jaime of Good Eats ‘n Sweet Treats for choosing this week’s recipe, Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake. I am a lover of all things cheesecake; I don’t think I have ever met a cheesecake that I didn’t like. So needless to say when this week’s recipe was revealed I was beyond thrilled. I have always had success with cheesecakes, so I wasn’t worried about this recipe, but that is not to say that it went off without a hitch.

I got my crust put together, baked off and cooled. The trouble began with the carmelization of the apples. My large non-stick pan was dirty and I didn’t feel like washing it just to saute some apples, so I took out a slightly smaller stainless steel pan. Easy enough. Moments later the kitchen was flooded with a wretched burnt butter and apple smell that was less than pleasant. I had foiled the first batch of apples, so I decided to slice what I had left in half so that I would still have the same number of apple wedges, albeit a little smaller.

With the apple crisis averted, I moved on to putting together the cheesecake filling and it came together easily and without incident. Since I used a 9″ springform pan instead of a 10″ I ended up baking my cheesecake for about 20 additional minutes, for a total of 2 hours and 5 minutes. When I took the pan out of the water bath and unwrapped the (triple-wrapped) foil I was disappointed to find a puddle of water had gotten through the foil. Although it didn’t appear to affect the crust, Nikki suggested using heavy duty aluminum foil to avoid such problems in the future. Thank you for the tip Nikki!

You’d think that this would be the end of the cheesecake saga, right? Well, the rest revolves around my food-obsessed, yet darling golden retriever. He appears to have stretched in length overnight because even though the cheesecake was pushed against the back counter to cool, he still managed to snag a chunk out of it. Needless to say, I was not happy.

While Dorie suggests garnishing this cheesecake with a thin layer of apple jelly or a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, I had planned to drizzle the cheesecake with the remaining butter/brown sugar mixture from carmelizing the apples. I think this would be fabulous; however, I am not able to report on how it tasted because the dog managed to find that plate as well. ::sigh::

Aside from all of the trials and tribulations, what was my final take on this cheesecake? I absolutely loved it! The brown sugar in the batter made for a deliciously sweet and creamy cheesecake, and the apples complemented the cheesecake’s flavor perfectly. Being an apple lover, I would probably opt to pile even more apples on next time. The amount in the recipe wasn’t enough to cover a single layer of the pan, so I would certainly up the apples to cheesecake ratio. Overall, another perfect dessert from Dorie!


Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

Prep Time: 7 hours

Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Total Time: 9 hours


For the Crust
30 gingersnaps (or a scant 2 cups graham cracker crumbs)
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted

For the Apples
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter
3 large Golden Delicious or Fuji apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
2 tbsp (packed) light brown sugar

For the Filling
1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
6 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp apple cider
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy cream

Apple jelly, for glazing, or confectioner's sugar, for dusting (optional)


1. To Make the Crust: Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan.

2. Put the gingersnaps in a food processor and whir until you have crumbs; you should have a scant 2 cups. (If you are using graham cracker crumbs, just put them in the food processor.) Pulse in the sugar and cinnamon, if you're using it, then pour over the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are moistened. Turn the crumbs into the springform pan and, using your fingertips, firmly press them evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan as far as they'll go. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven. (The crust can be covered and frozen for up to 2 months.)

3. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

4. Remove the pan from the freezer and wrap the bottom tightly in aluminum foil, going up the sides. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust is set and lightly browned. Transfer to a rack to cool while you make the apples and the filling. Leave the oven at 350 degrees F.

5. To Make the Apples: Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, toss in half of the apple slices and cook, turning once, until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the apples with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and cook them, turning, just until coated, another minute or so. Scrape the apples onto a plate, wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining apples. Let the apples cool while you make the filling.

6. Getting Ready to Bake: Have a roasting pan large enough to hold the springform pan at hand. Put a kettle of water on to boil.

7. To Make the Filling: Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed, scraping down the bowl often, for about 4 minutes, or until it is velvety smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes. Beat in the cider, vanilla, and cinnamon. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Finally, beat in the sour cream and heavy cream, beating just until the batter is smooth.

8. Pour about one third of the batter into the baked crust. Drain the apples by lifting them off the plate with a slotted spoon or spatula, and spoon them into the pan. Cover with the remaining batter and, if needed, jiggle the pan to even the top. Place the springform pan in the roasting pan and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

9. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 to 45 minutes, covering the cake loosely with a foil tent at the 45-minute mark. The cake will rise evenly and crack around the edges, and it should be fully set except, possibly, in the very center--if the center shimmies, that's just fine. Gently transfer the cake, still in the pan, to a cooling rack and let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it for at least 6 hours; overnight would be better.

10. Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the crust, open the pan's latch and release and remove the sides.

(Source: Dorie Greenspan "Baking: From My Home to Yours" pp. 238-239)


51 Responses to “Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake”

  1. katie102006 on February 12, 2008 at 8:55 am

    What a beautifully colored cheesecake! Nicely done!


  2. Erin on February 12, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Your cheesecake looks so pretty! The top of yours came out great- nice color and very smooth. I think drizzling it with the apple-brown sugar mixture would be a great idea. Maybe next time you make this you can try it =)


  3. Elizabeth on February 12, 2008 at 9:03 am


    Einstein just wanted his share, and who can blame him? This recipe was wonderful!


  4. Michelle on February 12, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Katie – Thank you!

    Erin – Thanks, Nick said the smooth top and beige color made it look like a wheel of cheese haha. I think the brown sugar/butter mixture would be great drizzled on top!

    Elizabeth – You’re right – Einstein thinks his fair share includes everything he can find 😉


  5. April on February 12, 2008 at 9:12 am

    Girl! Just look at that cheesecake! Beautiful! Not even the least bit browned on top!


  6. Michelle on February 12, 2008 at 9:19 am

    Thanks April! The wonders of an oven thermometer!


  7. slush on February 12, 2008 at 9:44 am

    Gorgeous dah-ling! The dog aspect cracks me up. Last week, Brody decided to help himself to one side of my cake cooling in the fridge. I was lucky enough to find him before his fingers went all the way around. I hid that section in the back. lol

    You did a fab job babe! WTG Nick for coming to the rescue, too.


  8. Amber on February 12, 2008 at 9:45 am

    It looks wonderfully delicious!
    I can’t believe Einy helped himself to the cheesecake, LOL that is to funny.


  9. Dianne on February 12, 2008 at 9:52 am

    It looks great! I think the 9 inch springform pan worked out wonderfully.


  10. Michelle on February 12, 2008 at 10:05 am

    Laurie – Haha I guess it’s impossible to dog-proof and kid-proof the baked goods! And yes, Nick totally bailed me out – he did an awesome job with the apples!

    Amber – Thanks! Oh yeah, Einy helps himself to whatever he can reach 😉


  11. Michelle on February 12, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Dianne – Thank you! I agree – aside from having to bake it a little longer I didn’t have any problems using my 9″.


  12. Marie on February 12, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Your cheesecake looks delicious. I topped mine with some additional cooked apples. They were really, really good! I’m quite lucky in that my dog waits to be invited before partaking of any human food. I did let her lick my plate after, and am happy to report that she enjoyed it too!


  13. Michelle on February 12, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Marie – your topping sounds great! And you are definitely lucky that your dog waits to get his people food – mine is a scavenger 😉


  14. Shawnda on February 12, 2008 at 10:25 am

    It looks great! Cheesecakes are the “drama queen dish” of my house – something weird almost *always* happens 🙂


  15. Michelle on February 12, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Shawnda – “drama queen dish” is hysterical! And seemingly true!


  16. mary on February 12, 2008 at 10:30 am

    well, i just learned something…..i didn’t realize the foil was supposed to stay around the bottom of the pan the ENTIRE time, i took mine off after i baked the crust….funny! your cheesecake looks fantastic and is a beautiful color..i can learn something from you about taking it out at the right time.


  17. Michelle on February 12, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Mary – glad I could impart some knowledge on this dreary snowy day 🙂


  18. nikki57 on February 12, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Well it looks beautiful despite all your problems.

    Don’t you just love baking with dogs around? Actually my cat is just as bad, which is far more dangerous because he can get everywhere.


  19. Michelle on February 12, 2008 at 11:00 am

    Thanks nikki! Oh yeah if my dog had spring loaded feet, that would be a whole new host of problems 😉


  20. CB on February 12, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    All you TWDers are making me drooool! Lovely cheesecake 🙂


  21. Michelle on February 12, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Thank you CB!


  22. Kate on February 12, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    The story sounds chaotic – like this was the world’s most difficult cheesecake. However, all those foiled attempts and mishaps always make the end result taste better if you ask me.


  23. lemontartlet on February 12, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Darn cat is every bit as bad. If something sits out for more than a few minutes, Pi is into it with all four paws! Yours looks delicious, problems or not, and I love how smooth and creamy it looks. Yum!


  24. Michelle on February 12, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    lemontartlet – Thank you! And darn those animals, helping themselves!


  25. Michelle on February 12, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Kate – haha it FELT chaotic! Definitely not the world’s most difficult cheesecake, but we had our obstacles 😉


  26. Judy on February 12, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Dogs — gotta love ’em! Yours, apparently, has good taste. Luckily, the only people-food mine likes is meat-related, although I didn’t give her a choice with the cheesecake. Lovely cheesecake, by the way!


  27. Jhianna on February 12, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Doh! Baking it longer when using a 9inch pan… I never even thought about that! My apples got a little crispified until I turned down the heat, too. I should really take notes while doing these so I can do an accurate post. Everytime I read someone’s post, I remember something else that went wrong/different.


  28. Caitlin on February 12, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    Engineering totally has its applications in the kitchen! Unfortunately, it appears that dogs do too… I’m sure that it would have been amazing with the remainder drizzled on top, and it looks beautiful too!


  29. lemontartlet on February 12, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    No lie, I’ve ended up accidentally shutting that cat in the pantry several times last week. Little pain in the hind end!


  30. MrsPresley on February 12, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    i’m glad that your entire family (dog included) enjoyed my recipe pick 😉 it looks beautiful! so perfectly smooth and creamy!


  31. peabody on February 13, 2008 at 2:29 am

    Your dog has good taste! 🙂


  32. Michelle on February 13, 2008 at 8:56 am

    Peabody – that he does 🙂


  33. Cakelaw on February 14, 2008 at 6:59 am

    Hi Michelle, I want a slice of this right now! Luckily for me I bought Dorie’s book after reading Brilynn’s many Dorie posts, so I can try this at home (if I ever get time in between blogging events!!). I now also have the advantage of having a picture of this cheesecake, even though Dorie doesn’t have one 😉


  34. Michelle on February 14, 2008 at 7:15 am

    Cakelaw – I know what you mean – I love having a picture of what something is “supposed” to look like!


  35. steph on February 14, 2008 at 10:28 am

    funny dog! at least you liked what you were able to try!


  36. Alanna on February 16, 2008 at 12:32 am

    Look at that cheesecake! looks awesome!


  37. Jerri on February 16, 2008 at 4:57 am

    i love cheesecake, but i’ve never had apple cheesecake. it looks great. thanks for posting.


  38. Michelle on February 16, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Alanna – thanks! 🙂

    Jerri – sure thing, I’m glad you enjoyed perusing 🙂


  39. sana on July 4, 2010 at 2:01 am

    Michelle, I made this yesterday and it was divine!! Simply amazing! Thank you so much for suggesting this recipe and helping me out. I baked it without the water bath and it turned out just fine. Thanks once again!


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  41. Ruchika Agrawal on October 1, 2011 at 11:09 am

    What a fantastic cheesecake..!! i just cant wait, i am already drooling.. i am going to make it right now.. thanx 🙂


  42. Laura on October 13, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Thanks brown eyed baker! I made this for my housewarming party, and it was worth the effort! Everyone LOVED it! Even some of the people who said they didnt like cheesecake! Thanks for the recipe!


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  47. Misty on October 31, 2012 at 9:42 am

    This is my plan is to make this and I am going to double up on the apples. But I was wondering if I topped with caramel instead of apple jelly. My thought is like a caramel apple cheesecake what do you think or does the apple jelly really make this cheesecake? or do you happen to know of a great caramel apple cheesecake?


    • Michelle on November 1st, 2012 at 1:42 pm

      Hi Misty, You could definitely do the caramel in place of the apple jelly – delicious twist!


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