little sparkles // apple crumble cheesecake

Amidst the treacherous whirlpools of poison and bitter medicine, I have always found, no matter how minuscule, a kernel of light – a lonely but brave survivor casting its warmth through ashes and shadows. Over time hope feeds its strength. It swells up like the envelope of a hot air balloon starting to take flight, blossoming and unfurling wildly akin to the large pink petals of a dahlia at full bloom.

I’m here, it seems to say, rapping on the window pane of late morning sleepers. And indeed it always has.

When they have arise from their slumber and rub the sleepiness from their eyes they will see, that indeed it has never left.

Are we far too deep in the chilly embrace of winter to enjoy an autumn-themed treat? I should hope not. If anything, its cinnamon-y warmth and conjured images of the fiery leaves in autumn makes an apple crumble the perfect mid-winter indulgence. An apple crumble cheesecake though? Applicable all year round. Do it.

Apple Crumble Cheesecake

makes a 7 inch cake

For the crust:

100 grams lotus biscuit cookies, finely crushed in a food processor

50 grams unsalted butter, melted

For the apple filling:

1 medium-sized green apple, cored and diced into small chunks

15 grams unsalted butter

1 tablespoon brown sugar

For the cheesecake batter:

360 grams cream cheese, at room temperature

80 grams light brown sugar

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk

60 ml yogurt

70 ml heavy cream

For the crumb topping:

52 grams all-purpose flour

25 grams light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

28 grams unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Make the crust: Prepare a 7 inch round springform cake pan. Stir the crushed cookies and melted butter together. Scrape the cookie mixture into the cake pan and press down firmly, ensuring that the surface is level. Bake the crust at 180C for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Saute the apples: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the diced apples and cook until they start to brown and soften. Sprinkle over the brown sugar and stir to coat the apples evenly. Continue to cook for a couple more minutes, or until the apples are soft but without being mushy. Set aside.

Make the cheesecake batter: Place the cream cheese in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the sugars and process until smooth and incorporated. Add in the vanilla extract and ground cinnamon and process to combine. Then, add in the egg and egg yolk, process until combined. Finally, add the yogurt and heavy cream and give the mixture a final whirl to combine everything. Make sure you scrap down the sides of the bowl of the food processor between additions to ensure that the ingredients are evenly mixed in.

Because the cheesecake will be baked in a water bath, before pouring the batter into the pan, you will want to wrap the outside of the pan in a double layer of tin foil that extends above the height of the pan to make sure that the water does not seep into the crust. When that’s done, pour 1/4 of the cheesecake batter over the baked and cooled crust. Spoon the sauteed apples on top in an even layer. Pour in the rest of the cheesecake batter. You will want to leave some extra room at the top for the crumb topping so you’ll likely not use all the batter. Don’t be ambitious and pour any extra batter into a small ramekin to bake separately. Set aside while you make the crumb topping.

Make the crumb topping: Whisk the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt together. Stir in the melted butter and mix until the mixture starts to come together and clump together. Sprinkle the topping over the top of the batter.

Bake the cake: Place the cake pan in a larger pan and pour in enough boiling water for it to reach halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake at 160C for about an hour until the cake is mostly set with just a bit of jiggle in the center. Let the cake cool in the pan until room temperature before refrigerating overnight.

Recipe inspired by Dorie Greenspan’s Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake.

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