Italian Apple Crumb Cheesecake

(Makes one 9-inch cheesecake)
Italian Apple Crumb Cheesecake
This is not a typical cheesecake with the fruit simply poured over the top of the cake.  In this recipe the apples are first gently cooked in a brown sugar and spice sauce to develop their flavor.  Then the apples are folded into the cheesecake mixture and poured over a graham cracker crust.  The crumb topping is added to create a crunchy contrast to the creamy interior.  There are a number of steps involved in making this cheesecake but it makes a beautiful autumn dessert.

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 16 squares)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Apple Mixture:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 pounds Macintosh,or similar, apples (about 4 apples)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice

Crumb Topping:
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream

Confectioners' sugar


To make the crust:
Combine the melted butter, crumbs, and sugar.
Press into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan. 
Set aside.

To make the apple mixture: 
Peel and core the apples; cut the apples into 1/2-inch dice.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat.
Add the brown sugar, apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
Cook until the apples are soft but still holding their shape, 7 to 8 minutes.
Transfer the apples to a colander to drain off excess liquid.
Set aside to cool.

To make the crumb topping:
In a small bowl, use a pastry blender to combine the topping ingredients.
Use your fingers to form the mixture into crumbs.

To make the cheesecake:
Using an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese, and sugar until
light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and then add the cream.
Continue beating until the mixture is thick and creamy.
Gently stir in the cooled apple mixture by hand.
Pour the cheesecake batter into the spring form pan.
Spread the crumb topping over the top.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Allow to cool to room temperature before removing the sides of the pan.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Sprinkle the top with confectioners' sugar right before serving.
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Cheesecakes that do the best in the freezer are dense ones without toppings.  Lighter, airier ones like ricotta cheesecakes lose their great texture when they're frozen.  If you plan to freeze a cheesecake, here's the best way to do it:

1.  Let the cheesecake cool completely and remove the springform ring.

2.  Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil.

3.  Freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
Can You Freeze Cheesecake?
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