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Cheesecake Baked Apples

If you enjoy creating in the kitchen, here’s a festive and impressive way to serve apple cheesecake.
Simply hollow out apples for shells, fill with your favorite cheesecake batter and bake!
Apple shells:
8 large apples (I used Honeycrisp)
Lemon juice
Chunky applesauce:
Apple flesh removed from shells
2 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Cheesecake batter:
2 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese (softened)
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. apple brandy
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
2 eggs
1/2 c. chunky applesauce* (recipe below or use prepared apple sauce)
1/8 c. whipping cream
Optional finishes:
Caramel sauce
Pecans, chopped
Maple leaf cookies (recipe below)
1) Apple shells:
Chop the tops of the apples off and scoop out the insides, leaving approximately 1/4” thick shell. Use removed apple flesh to make chunky applesauce for the cheesecake. Discard the core and seeds. Brush apple rims with lemon juice to reduce browning.
2) *Chunky applesauce:
Place scooped out apple flesh in small saucepan with 2 Tbsp. water, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, 2 Tbsp. sugar. and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Cook on low/medium heat until apples are tender but still chunky.
3) Cheesecake batter:
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Add brandy, cinnamon, vanilla and cardamom. Blend well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until combined. Stir in applesauce and cream until just incorporated.
Portion batter into hollowed apples (fill to top). Place filled apples on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes until cheesecake filling is set. Transfer to a plate and place in the fridge until completely cooled.
Serve apples at room temperature or chilled. If desired, top with caramel sauce and chopped pecans.
For an extra special finishing touch, garnish with maple leaf cookies (recipe follows).
Maple Cookies:
Adapted from Gourmet and Martha Stewart
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1 egg yolk
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp salt
1 egg white, beaten
Beat together the butter and sugar, until light and fluffy.  With the mixer running, add in the egg yolk and slowly pour in the maple syrup.  In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cardamom and salt.  Add to butter mixture until just combined.  The dough will be pretty clumpy.  Press together lightly and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350°F and line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat®. Roll out the cookie dough to about 1/8” thickness. Cut into desired shapes, and repeat with remaining dough.
Brush with beaten egg white. Bake for 8-11 minutes, until edges are lightly golden.
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