I usually get so excited for everything pumpkin flavored in the Fall that I forget all about Fall’s other great fruit – apples! Thanks to Rachel Ray, I found this amazing recipe and I will never ever ever forget about apple season again. Northeast of San Diego is the most adorable town of Julian which is known for its apples (and wine tasting, but I manage to find wine tasting in just about any town I visit). We took a trip there this weekend and picked our own apples from an organic orchard. The apples are about 1/2 the size of the ones you find in the grocery store but very juicy and sweet – perfect for this recipe! Here’s a few pictures from Julian to inspire you to plan a trip there, or at least to remember that little “Apple a Day” saying.
- 5 small to medium apples (2 lbs. total) (I used 8 of my little baby apples)
- 1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter
- 1 cup plus 1 tbsp. sugar (divided)
- 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup Graham Cracker Crumbs or about 8 graham cracker squares, finely chopped
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 11 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped
- 3/4 cup sour cream
1. Peel, quarter and core the apples. Cut each quarter into 3-5 lengthwise slices depending on the size of your apples and size of your muffin tins. In a large nonstick skillet, melt 3 tbsp. butter over medium-high heat. Add the apples, 6 tbsp. sugar and the lemon juice. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the juice starts simmering and the apples begin to caramelize, about 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add 1 tbsp. butter and cook until the apples are tender, about 5 minutes. Set Aside and Let cool.
2. Line 6 cups of a jumbo muffin pan with jumbo liners (or 12 cups of a regular muffin pan) and preheat the oven to 325°. In a small pan, melt 2 tbsp. butter, then place in a medium bowl. Mix in the graham crackers and salt. Divide the mixture among the muffin cups. Press into the bottoms with a narrow drinking glass (If you’re using regular muffin tins like I did, a large shot glass works perfectly for this). Transfer to the freezer to set for a few minutes.
3. In a bowl (stand up mixer bowl if you have one), combine the cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar. Using a mixer, beat at high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl twice, until blended. Mix in the vanilla.
4. Arrange about 5 apple slices if you use jumbo tins and about 3 if you use regular tins in a single layer on the crust in each muffin cup. Reserve the remaining apples with their juices at room temperature in a covered bowl (or refrigerate and microwave for about 45 seconds when you are ready to assemble).
5. Divide the cream cheese mixture evenly among the cups; bake until set but slightly jiggly, about 20 minutes. Turn off the oven, open the door slightly and let cool for 30 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.
6. After the cheesecakes are fully set and you’re ready to assemble and serve, prepare the walnuts. In a small skillet, melt the remaining 2 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add the walnuts and 2 tbsp. sugar and cook, stirring, until toasted, 4 to 5 minutes. Cool on paper towels, then break up the candied nuts. Be careful not to burn the walnuts! Mine were a little on the crispy side.
7. Arrange the reserved apples with their juices on top of the cakes. Stir the remaining 1 tbsp. sugar into the sour cream. Top the cakes with the sour cream and candied nuts.