Believe it or not, these scrumptious little items were not part of my quest to use up a bushel and a half of apples from the Catskills. They came about as a way to attempt to use up some beautiful Vermont apple butter sitting in the fridge.
Matt and I really enjoyed these, and they immediately evaporated when his coworkers got ahold of them. They aren’t no-bake, but we’ll call them only-a-little-bake, because they only require a little bit of baking – just the graham cracker crust. Then they require a little bit of work on the stovetop to cook the apples. But, they are easy to pull off.
And so much fun to eat! I mean, how often do you get to eat cheesecake with your hands? I know there are cheesecake bars out there, which are awesome, but those typically require a fork. These do not! Thanks to the cupcake wrapper you can eat them completely utensil-free.
They may not scream Thanksgiving, but they do exuberantly shout fall, and I think it’s still fall. And by posting this recipe at this time of year, I am informing the weather that yes, it is still fall. That means that six inches of snow is inappropriate and jumping the gun, so please don’t do that again until at least the beginning of January. Okay? Thanks!
I made only one change to the original, which was to sub pecans for walnuts, 1) because I had pecans on hand and did not have any walnuts, and 2) because being from Texas (aka growing up in the land of pecans) dies hard, and I’ll always love pecans better than any other nut. But if walnuts are more your thing, feel free to use them instead. You could also sub in whole, peeled almonds for a tasty twist.
Source: Slightly adapted from Shutterbean
1 1/4 cups graham crackers (from about 10 cookies)
1/3 cup chopped pecan halves
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 package 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup cold heavy cream
1/2 cup apple butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 apple, peeled & chopped
1/3 cup chopped pecan halves
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Line 10 standard muffin cups with cupcake liners. In a food processor, pulse together the graham crackers, pecans, sugar, salt, cinnamon and butter until combined. Divide crumb mixture among cupcake liners, firmly pressing into bottoms and up the sides. I used a shot glass to help with this. Bake until crusts are browned and fragrant, about 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely in a pan on a wire rack at room temperature.
In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on high until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the confectioner’s sugar, apple butter, and vanilla extract and beat until smooth.
In another medium bowl, with clean beaters, beat the heavy cream on high until stiff peaks form, about 2 to 3 minutes. Gently fold the whipped cream into the apple butter cream cheese mixture a little at a time. Divide mixture among the cooled crusts and refrigerate until set, at least 1 hour.
While the cheesecakes are chilling, make the apple topping. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Add the apple, pecans, sugar & cinnamon and cook, stirring occasionally until apples are just soft, about 4-5 minutes. Finish with a pinch of salt and let topping cool. When ready to serve, place a tablespoon of the apple walnut topping on each mini cheesecake. Cheesecakes will last up to three days in the refrigerator, if you and those with whom you live can restrain yourselves from eating them, anyway.