Cheesecake with Roasted Walnut Graham Cracker crust & Apple Cider Caramel Sauce

Photo credit: Tumblr September 20, 2012

with Roasted Walnut & Graham Cracker Crust 
served with an Apple Cider Caramel drizzle 

Note: Assemble ingredients at least one hour prior to making this cheesecake so 
that the dairy & eggs may come to room temperature.
Essential tools for the easiest prep are a food processor or blender and a stand mixer with whisk.
Prep time: about 30 minutes 
Bake time: 1 hour
Cool at least 1 hour at room temperature and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. 

For the cheesecake:
3- 8 oz. bricks of Philadelphia brand cream cheese
4 large eggs
1/2 cup half & half 
1/2 cup heavy cream 
1 cup granulated white sugar 
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the crust:
1 & 1/2 inner wrapped pkg.'s of Nabisco Honey Graham Crackers
1 & 1/2 cups walnut halves 
1/2 stick salted butter 
1/4 cup (scant) granulated white sugar 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. You will need a 9" spring-form pan at the ready.
Spread the walnuts on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast for about 7-8 minutes or until slightly dark brown. Let cool.
Melt the butter.
Using a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the graham crackers, sugar and the roasted walnuts to fine crumbs. 
Pour crumbs into the spring-form pan and drizzle the melted butter over the mixture. With a rubber spatula, moisten the crumbs thoroughly with the butter and then tamp firmly across the bottom and a little up the sides with a heavy, flat bottomed glass or similar tool. 
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.

Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

For the cheesecake batter; fit a stand mixer with the work bowl & whisk attachment. Cube the cream cheese bricks and add to bowl along with sugar. Whisk on medium until very smooth, scraping bowl and whisk as necessary to incorporate all of the cream cheese with the sugar thoroughly.
Shut off mixer and add eggs, half & half, heavy cream and vanilla. Whisk on medium speed until super smooth and creamy. Scrape bowl & whisk with spatula as necessary to incorporate all ingredients well. 
Let batter sit for about 10 minutes. Check for lumps, re-whisk as necessary.

Pour batter into baked crust and set on a sheet pan. Drop the pan several times from about a 3 inch height onto the pan to settle the batter and release the air bubbles.
Bake for 1 hour or until slightly golden & puffed. It should still be a little jiggly in the middle. 
Let cool completely for 1 hour and then slide a thin bladed knife around the ring of the pan before releasing.
Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. 

Apple Cider Caramel Sauce 

1 cup freshly pressed apple cider (raw if you can find it) 
1 cup light brown sugar (firmly packed)
1 stick salted butter 
1/2 cup heavy cream 
1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
2 tblsp Calvados Apple Liqueur (optional)

In a heavy medium saucepan combine the cider and sugar. Boil at medium -high heat until reduced to about half the original volume (about 10 minutes).
Keep heat at medium and add butter, heavy cream, vanilla & apple liqueur. 
Turn up heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, boil mixture for 3 minutes.
Remove from heat immediately and let cool. 
It will thicken as it cools. 

Microwave for 30 seconds before drizzling over cheesecake for best consistency.


Not Your Mother's Fudge Brownies!

More research and development led to this adaptation of one of my favorite brownie recipes, the Chocolate Espresso Brownies that are my usual go to. For this recipe I wanted to keep the decadent fudgy-ness intact, while making this more of a pan brownie. 

While Mom always made incredible brownies, these are not for the kids to eat after school with big glasses of cold milk. The addition of coffee liqueur and brewed coffee deepen the chocolate flavor, and lend themselves to be enjoyed with a glass of excellent red wine!

Not Your Mother's Fudge Brownies!

4 large eggs
1 & 2/3 cups granulated white sugar
1 & 1/2 sticks butter + 2 tbsp.
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup coffee liqueur (such as Kahlua)
2 tbsp. brewed room temp. coffee (leftover from your morning brew)
1 tsp vanilla extract 
1/3 cup dutch processed Cocoa (such as Hershey's) + 1 tbsp.
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. sea salt 
3/4 cup AP unbleached white flour + 1tbsp.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare an 13 x 9 metal rectangle cake pan by smearing with 2 tbsp. soft butter and coating with a mixture of 1 tbsp. cocoa powder and 1 tbsp. flour. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with wire whisk attachment, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla on medium speed for 10 minutes until very light lemon yellow in color. Meanwhile, in a heavy small saucepan set over very low heat, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring occasionally. Turn heat off when about 90% melted, let residual heat melt the remainder. Add coffee and coffee liqueur. Set aside to cool slightly.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. 

Remove the mixer bowl from the stand and add the flour mixture and melted chocolate mixture all at once to the beaten eggs and sugar mixture.
Fold lightly with a spatula until just combined. Do not over mix! Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes. 
Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting into squares.
Yields approx. 35 2 x 2 squares. 


Carrot Soup

For Bill.

Carrot Soup

2 lbs. carrots - chopped roughly - not peeled
1 leek- white part sliced thinly
1 red pepper- chopped roughly
2 cloves garlic- minced
2 tblsp. olive oil
6-8 cups (or more) vegetable broth (use to achieve final consistency as well as cook carrots)
3/4 cup plain greek yogurt
Sea salt - to taste
Freshly ground pepper - to taste
1/2 tsp. Turmeric-
1/4 tsp.Nutmeg
1 tblsp. Lite Soy Sauce
1 tblsp. Honey

In a stockpot over medium heat, saute leeks, pepper, and garlic for about 8-10 minutes (or however long it takes you to wash & prep carrots). Add roughly chopped carrots and cover completely with broth. Simmer over medium heat, covered, for about 30 minutes or until carrots are soft.
Turn off heat.
Mash with a potato masher until broken down. Then (carefully!) blend soup in a blender until smooth. Only fill blender halfway and cover tightly- hold lid with a thick towel to prevent burns.
If needed, add additional broth (a few tablespoons) to help blend.
Return to soup pot and add yogurt, salt, pepper, honey, turmeric, soy sauce and honey.
Use additional broth to make the soup the consistency you like if it seems too thick.
Taste, adjust seasonings as you like.
Heat through over low heat - serve.
Note: This soup can be made with chicken broth as well.

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Cincinnati, OH, United States
A dedicated foodie, with a passion for the best food. Favorite food crushes include; Cheese, Wine, Breads, Seafood, anything made with eggs, ...there's actually no point in a list, there isn't much out there I don't have a crush on. Transplanted from the Northeast at age 18, a whole new frontier of food was opened up to me. I have fished for Salmon, hunted for mushrooms, cracked open fresh oysters from the sea and devoured them on the spot. Figs, pears, peaches, so many indigenous jewels! I dedicate this BLOG to the endless variety this region provides. My hope is to live here for a very long time & continue to discover and experience it's unique bounty! Alas, my life has now taken me to Cincinnati, OH where the food culture is like none I have ever experienced.


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