sugar, spice and everything nice // apple vanilla bean cheesecake

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Nope not out of flowers yet. Not even close.

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And neither is taking half an hour to arrange slices of fruit on top of a cake, which while admittedly demonstrates little to no dexterity with regards to wielding a knife (that, my friends, is why my go-to homemade meal is scrambled eggs on toast), fortunately packs a decent visual punch – at least I hope.

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Underneath the layers and layers of apple slices lies a silky, custardy cheesecake filling packed with the ebony speckles of vanilla bean. I wanted to have a vanilla mousse instead but I couldn’t locate a recipe so cheesecake it was, although an intentionally lighter and less tangy one. I paired the filling with a crust made with lotus biscuits for their cinnamon kick, and sautéed some diced apples to line the bottom of the crust because why not. If I had incorporated a vanilla bean caramel sauce this cake would have been mind-blowing, but I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out without too. Winner.

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Apple Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

makes a 6 inch cake

For the crust:

180 grams lotus biscuits, crushed finely

60 grams unsalted butter, melted

For the sautéed apples:

1/2 large apple, diced into 1/4 inch cubes

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

juice of 1/8 lemon

For the cheesecake filling:

180 grams cream cheese, at room temperature

85 grams sugar

1/2 vanilla bean

1 egg

45 ml plain yogurt

20 ml heavy cream

To decorate:

1 large apple, halved and thinly sliced

Make the crust: Mix the crushed biscuits and melted butter together thoroughly. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a round 6 inch cake pan that’s about 2 1/2 inches high. Bake for 10 minutes in an oven preheated at 180C. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.

Sauté the apples: Cook the diced apples in the butter until they begin to soften. Stir in the brown sugar, ground cinnamon and lemon juice and continue to cook the apples until they caramelise. Set aside and cool to room temperature.

Make the cheesecake filling: Beat the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Split open 1/2 a vanilla bean and scrape in the seeds; mix evenly into the cream cheese mixture. Beat in the egg until incorporated. Stir in the yogurt and heavy cream until combined.

Transfer the sautéed apples into the cooled crust, spreading them out into an even layer. Scrape in the cheesecake filling.

Bake the cheesecake: Preheat oven to 140C. Bake the cheesecake for about 50 minutes, or until just barely set. Allow to cool to room temperature before refrigerating overnight.

Decorate the cheesecake: Arrange the apple slices in an overlapping manner, starting from the outside and working towards the center of the cake. Serve as soon as possible after decorating because the apples will brown over time.

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