Food is a passion. I’m not sure that it necessarily comes out all the time as I tell you about the mess my kids and I made, how I have taken to making my own fruit snacks or that I’m making ice cream in the fall, but I hope it does. I hope that you can see my relationship with food is one that I’ve fought for and continue to fight for daily. It’s important to me, and it’s important for me to share it, this time with an apple pie cheesecake topped with a salted caramel sauce.
While I still may be coming into my own on my personal journey, finding my words and treading lightly, I watch in awe as others do it so well, weaving through food choices and relationships, crafting stories of life and the food that fuels it. Shauna Ahern does that and has since she launched her blog, Gluten-Free Girl, sharing her journey through celiac disease and her rediscovery of food after diagnosis. And though food relationships aren’t always roses and sugary sweet, it’s the humanity and life that I love about Shauna and her story that she shares with her husband Danny and daughter Lu.
My dad recently started exploring a gluten-free diet, and I first ordered Shauna and Danny’s new cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, for my mom, thinking she could benefit from their wisdom as she learned how to cook for my dad. Then I kept it because I loved the recipes so much. Perhaps I’ll get him one for Christmas. For you, head over to Gluten-Free Girl for their giveaway, which includes three copies of the cookbook, a KitchenAid stand mixer and more!
For the apple pie cheesecake, I started with a gingerbread cookie crust. It just felt right, and Shauna has a great recipe. Just leave the cookies out on the counter uncovered so they get a bit harder and drier than usual before you turn them to crumb. If you want, you could also purchase gluten-free (or regular if you’re not avoiding gluten) gingersnaps or graham crackers. Both will work, but I like gingersnaps to pair with the apples and cinnamon.
Pulse the cookies in the food processor until no chunks remain.
Add a bit of butter to bind them together, and then we’re ready to press in the pan.
I use the bottom of a cup to get my crust up the sides of my springform pan.
And we move on to apples. I have been hoarding apples from the farmers market like they’re going out of season…oh, that’s because they are. These happen to be Connell Reds, Ole’s apple of choice, which worked out well since he’s the one who had the pleasure of peeling and slicing them.
And all the apple pie favorites make an appearance here, but with sweet rice flour subbing in for my regular all-purpose. You could also use a gluten-free all-purpose mix if you have one available.
Layer the apples in the bottom of the crust, taking care not to leave any giant gaps or holes.
For the cheesecake layer, cream together cream cheese, sugar and cornstarch until smooth.
Milk, eggs (one at a time), sour cream and vanilla also get mixed in.
And the silky cream cheese gets poured right over the top of the apples.
And we’re ready to bake. The only thing that needs to happen is a wrap around the bottom to catch any butter drips that may happen as the crust cooks, but I don’t bother with water baths for this recipe. The sour cream and milk have been successful in preventing any cracks…even if you, say, mean to leave it in an extra 5 minutes and that turns into 25. Still, crack free.
The result is a creamy cheesecake, complete with cinnamon apple pie layer that everyone can enjoy this holiday season. Unless you’re on a diet, I suppose. Then you’ll just have to live with the guilt.
It’s worth it.
8 ounces gluten-free gingersnap cookies
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Apple Pie Layer:
4 cups apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 lemon, juiced
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon sweet rice flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons sweet rice flour or cornstarch
1/2 cup whole milk
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Wrap bottom of springform pan in foil to prevent butter leaks as the cheesecake bakes. Add the cookies to a food processor. Pulse until all chunks are removed and only crumbs remain. Add in melted butter and pulse to combine. Press crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 10″ springform pan.
Mix together sliced apples, lemon juice, sugar, sweet rice flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir to coat. Spread apples in an even layer over the bottom of the crust.
In a large mixing bowl cream butter, sugar and sweet rice flour. Mix in the milk, and then add in one egg at a time, mixing after each until incorporated. Stir in sour cream and vanilla. Pour cream cheese mixture over the top of the apples.
Bake at 350° F for 60-70 minutes until center is almost set. Turn the oven off and allow to sit in the oven with the door closed for at least 3 hours or until room temperature. Store in fridge until ready to serve. Serve topped with caramel sauce.
Makes 12-14 servings
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Looking for a different pie recipe? Check out TidyMom’s Pie Round-Up.