By Shayna Murray

We grow a lot of really great things here in the prairies. We have fields full of lentils, oats and wheat and the most amazing Saskatoon berries. But we aren’t known for our apple orchards. Right on the top of my culinary bucket list is to head either east or west and pick myself baskets and baskets of fresh apples, right off the tree. In the meantime, we are fortunate enough here to have an ample supply of delicious apples from across the country.

Apples are amazing to cook with, and easy to incorporate into sweet or savoury dishes. Nothing (except maybe pumpkins) says fall quite like apples. Sweet or tart, juicy and crisp – I think every cook loves working with apples.

Spiced Apple Cheesecake, Courtesy of Shayna Murray, MommyOutsideTheBox.ca, Regina

While any kind of apple will do, opt for Novaspy apples if you’d like your cheesecake to have a good balance of sweetness and acidity.

SpicedAppleCheesecake

Prep time: 35 min
Cook time: 2 hours
Yields: 1 pie

Ingredients
Crust
½ cup (125 mL) graham cracker crumbs
½ cup (125 mL) gingersnap crumbs
½ cup (125 mL) packed brown sugar
¼ cup (50 mL) butter or margarine, melted

Filling
3 pkg (8 oz each) cream cheese
½ cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
½ cup (125 mL) apple juice
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
3 eggs

Apple Topping
3 apples, sliced 1/4 (5 mm) thick
¼ cup (50 mL) granulated sugar
1 cup (250 mL) apple juice
2 Tbsp (15 mL) butter
¼ tsp (1 mL) cinnamon
Brown sugar

Directions
Crust
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Spray a 9-inch (2.5 L) springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In small bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, gingersnap crumbs and brown sugar. Stir in melted butter and mix well.
3. Scrape crumb mixture into pan, pressing firmly against bottom of pan. Bake for 10 minutes; set aside to cool.

Filling
1. In large bowl with electric beaters, or using stand mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth.
2. Beat in sugar. Add apple juice, salt and vanilla and beat until combined.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
4. Scrape cream cheese mixture over crust. Wrap bottom of pan tightly in tin foil and set in a larger pan or roaster. Add hot tap water to larger pan until it reaches about halfway up side of springform pan.
5. Bake for 40 minutes.

Apple Topping
1. Meanwhile, toss apple slices with granulated sugar.
2. In medium saucepan, bring apple juice to boil over medium-high heat. Add apples; simmer until most of the liquid has cooked off and apples are just tender.
3. Add butter and cinnamon to apple mixture and continue to cook, stirring often, until caramelized and no liquid remains. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
4. After 40 minutes, check cheesecake for doneness. It should be mostly set and able to support apple topping. (If not set, bake another 10 minutes and check again.)
5. Carefully scoop apple topping onto cheesecake. Sprinkle with brown sugar and return to oven to bake for an additional 15 minutes.
6. Turn off the oven and prop door open. Leave the cheesecake to sit in hot water bath for 1 hour. before removing from oven.
7. Gently run knife or metal spatula around edge of cheesecake to loosen it from side of pan. Do not remove side from pan.
8. Allow cheesecake to cool at least 2 hours before removing from pan.
9. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours before cutting and serving.

MommyOutsideTheBox
Shayna Murray is married and mother to an exhausting but adorable five-year-old girl. She works outside the home, blogs, and is always cooking and doing her best to balance it all.