Last autumn I came up with a killer recipe for an apple cider caramel ice cream. Oh my god that stuff is good. I made it 4-5 more times after that because I was either serving it with apple pie on thanksgiving, handing tubs out as christmas gifts, or just making it because we wanted some. When cider appeared at our local markets this year, I bought some planning to make it again.
But then I did something else. I boiled down my cider and decided I wanted to venture the flavors into a cheesecake (a la this pistachio number). And oh, I am so glad I did.
This recipe has a lot in common with my pistachio butter cheesecake – it’s tall, it’s SO CREAMY and yet somehow remains light (the sour cream helps). The tang from the cream cheese is complimented by the sweet tartness of apple cider. I only added cinnamon to mine but I can imagine adding other types of mulling spices (cloves, allspice, etc) would be lovely too. I followed the methodology for my basic cheesecake recipe which does away with a water bath (which I find too tedious) and instead puts the pan of water in the oven to create more steam. We’ll cool it it very, very slowly to prevent it from sinking in the middle and retain that perfect texture. It’s quick to prepare (all in a food processor) but has a long bake, and an even longer cooling time in the fridge – and it is oh so worth the wait! Move over pumpkin – apple cider is the new fall favorite cheesecake!
Cider: fresh apple cider, also known as unfiltered apple juice. You can use any kind but I’ve started to use Honeycrisp cider more often because it’s more tart and the flavor comes through a bit more.
Mulling spices: optional but will add flavor to the reduced cider if you add them to the pot when boiling the cider.
Sugar: brown sugar, light or dark is fine.
Cream cheese: we’re using three bricks of cream cheese. It should be firm (not spreadable!). I like using Philadelphia because it’s always tangier and firmer than other brands. It MUST be at room temperature.
Cookie crumbs: Either graham crackers or digestive cookies. They’ll be ground into a powder for the crust.
Sour cream: Full fat.
Flavorings: I use cinnamon, fine sea salt and pure vanilla extract. If you’re using another salt, like table salt, halve the amount.
Eggs: they need to be at room temperature but you can also just take them from the fridge and set them in a bowl of warm water to warm them up.
Flour: this is a newly added ingredient, it helps the cheesecake set firm.
Reduce the cider: start with three full cups of fresh apple cider (unfiltered apple juice). Pour it into a large pot and boil the juice on medium high for 30-45 minutes until it has considerably reduced in volume and is thick, like a warm syrup. You’ll need 1/3 of a cup of the reduced cider for the cheesecake but you’ll probably have a little over half a cup after boiling.
Preheat the oven and prep the pan: while springform pans are more popular for cheescake because they give you that straight-edged crust, I prefer a cake pan lined with parchment paper. This way I can use the water bath (guaranteed to produce a creamier cheesecake) without worry. To prep the pan I grease it then press a sheet of parchment paper into it and secure it with metal clips:
Prepare the crust: grind the cookies into a powder then add the melted butter. Stir until you have the texture of wet sand:
Press the crust into an even layer at the bottom of the pan and up the sides. If you’re using the lined cake pan method the sides are a bit challenging, just do your best!
The crust goes in for a short bake to help it set. Then set it aside to cool.
Gather your ingredients: room temperature eggs, room temperature cream cheese, room temperature sour cream and cool or room temperature reduced cider (as well as the rest of the ingredients like spices and flour).
Start by beating the cream cheese with the sugar and flavorings until it’s smooth
Then add the sour cream and beat until combined
Add the cooled, reduced cider and flour and beat. Scrape down the bowl as necessary to ensure you don’t have any pesky cream cheese lumps.
Eggs should go in one by one and we’re going to do our best to not overbeat them. Once the last egg is incorporated, stop the mixer.
Pour the mix into the cooled crust then set the cheesecake in a large cake pan and fill the large cake pan halfway with water. This is the water bath.
Bake the cheesecake for about an hour and 20-30 minutes, until the sides are set and it only jiggles just a bit in the center.
Cool it slowly: first by turning off the oven and leaving the oven door open then by placing the cheesecake with the water bath on the counter until it’s cool enough to lift it out by hand.
In the photos you’ll see one with caramel and one with whipped cream. Here are the details:
Share & tag me on instagram @buttermilkbysam