October is the perfect month for apple bakes, which are just right for adding that cosy autumn vibe to a meal. Here’s a winner from Jeddah-based pastry chef Intesar Bakr. With the signature graham cracker crust, which blends in with salted caramel and apple juices as it bakes, a thin layer of sweet apple slices and the rich, creamy, smooth cheesecake, it’s simply heavenly. Add salted caramel sauce, allowing it to drip over the sides and crunchy, chopped pecans to decorate it, and it becomes the dessert to stun your guests with this season.
For the crust:
•½ cup graham cracker crumbs (about 12 full crackers)
•3 tablespoons granulated sugar
•½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
•¼ cup unsalted, melted butter
For the apples:
•5 tablespoons unsalted butter
•½ cup light brown sugar
•1 teaspoon salt
•5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
For the whipped cream:
•¾ cup heavy cream
• 3 tablespoons powder sugar
For the caramel-pecan layer:
•¾ cup ready made salted caramel sauce
• 1 cup chopped pecans
• Salted caramel sauce
• chopped pecans
For the cheesecake:
• 225g room temperature cream cheese
• ¼ cup granulated sugar
• 1 room temperature egg
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 190 °C.
2. Make the crust: Whisk the Graham Cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon together. Add the melted butter and use a fork to toss the mixture together until all of the crumbs are evenly moistened. Place the crumbs into a 10-inch pie pan and press them into an even layer over the bottom and two thirds of the way up the sides of the pan. Bake for six to eight minutes, or until golden brown then take out of the oven and allow to cool for around 10 minutes.
3. Pour the salted caramel sauce over the bottom of the crust, gently spreading it into an even layer. Sprinkle the chopped pecans evenly over the top of the caramel layer. Place the pan in the refrigerator while the apples are prepared.
4. Reduce oven temperature to 175 °C.
5. Make the apples: Melt the butter in a 30cm skillet, then add the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt, stirring to combine. Cook the mixture until it is gently bubbling, about one minute, add the apples to the pan and toss to coat with the butter mixture. Cook until the apples are very tender and just about all of the liquid has been evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then add to the pan on top of the caramel-pecan layer, spreading the apples evenly. Return the pan to the refrigerator.
6. For the cheesecake: Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until completely smooth. Add the egg and beat until completely combined. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract and beat until completely smooth, another one to two minutes. Pour the cheesecake batter over the apples in the pan, smoothing it into an even layer. Bake until the cheesecake is set and doesn’t jiggle in the middle, for about 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight.
7. For whipped cream: Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment or hand mixer, whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar together on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.
8. Garnishing: Remove cake from the pan. Spread the whipped cream evenly over the top of the cheesecake layer. Dollop spoons of caramel sauce on top of the whipped cream and using a butter knife or spatula gently swirl the caramel into the whipped cream. Sprinkle additional chopped pecans on top. Serve immediately.