THERE IS STILL TIME to make a big splash on Valentine’s Day Tuesday. If you are looking for a gift made memorable by your personal touch, try baking your sweetie this rare apple treat rather than reaching for the ubiquitous, ho-hum box of chocolates.
Like chocolate, Valentine’s Day Apple Cheesecake is decadent and sweet, but with a few healthy touches like the apples, pecans in the crust and topping, and the option of no- or low-fat cream cheese and sour cream.
But it’s really less about the ingredients and more about the thoughtfulness—and the effort—that makes this a uniquely special gift. As for the apples, there are plenty of good New England McIntosh available, or Cortland, or Empire, or any combination of them.
Valentine’s Day Apple Cheesecake
2 c graham cracker crumbs
2 T sugar
2 T finely chopped pecans
1 t cinnamon
1/2 c butter, melted
In a small bowl, combine crumbs, sugar, pecans, and cinnamon. Stir in butter. Reserve 1/8 cup for garnish. Press remaining in a greased 9-inch springform pan. Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool.
4 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened (fat-free is fine)
3/4 c sugar
3 eggs, beaten
2 t vanilla
2 T cornstarch
1 c sour cream (fat-free is fine)
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth and light. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and cornstarch just until blended. Stir in sour cream. Pour into crust.
2-1/2 c New England apples, peeled and chopped
3/4 c cherry, beet, or cranberry juice
1/4 c sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
2 T chopped pecans
In a large bowl, combine apples and juice. Stir the apples gently and allow them to absorb for at least 15 minutes. Drain excess juice. Mix in sugar and cinnamon; spoon over filling.
Place pan on baking sheet and bake for 55-60 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool 10 minutes; then run a knife around inside of pan to loosen. Sprinkle with pecans. Chill overnight before serving. Refrigerate leftover cheesecake.
HOW SHOULD YOU STORE YOUR APPLES once they are home? Keep them cold! Watch this short video for suggestions about how to keep your apples crisp and fresh.