By STEVEN DESALVO
For Montclair Local

Editor’s note: This recipe inaugurates our “recipe of the month” feature. Roving reporter Steven DeSalvo, who will also write the column “Montclair Eats” for us, will visit local restaurants to get a recipe to share. (Because of Thanksgiving we may have two this month.) If you’ve eaten a dish at a local restaurant you’re dying to make at home, drop us a note at culture@montclairlocal.news.

As the seasons change and the temperature gets colder, it becomes a time for a seasonal self indulgence. This caramel apple cheesecake from Creative Confections Café at 206 Bellevue Ave. can satisfy that craving.

Creative Confections Café is a small mother-and-daughter custom cake shop offering a cozy atmosphere and a wide variety of home-style baked goods for walk-in customers. Jennifer Duran and Larissa Krchmar specialize in highly decorative cakes for weddings, birthdays, and other special occasions.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

Ingredients

Crust:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup butter melted

Cream cheese filling:

1 pound soft cream cheese

1/2 cup white sugar

2 tablespoons flour, divided

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped Granny Smith
apples

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup chopped pecans

Caramel:

2 cups white sugar

12 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup heavy cream

Directions

For crust:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Wrap a 9-inch springform pan with two layers of aluminum foil on the outside and spray the inside with nonstick cooking spray.

In a bowl, combine all crust ingredients. Press into the bottom of prepared springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool.

While crust is cooking, prepare caramel:

Pour the two cups of sugar into a 2-quart saucepan. Heat the sugar over medium heat, whisking as it begins to melt. Once all the sugar is melted, swirl it around in the pan. Cook the sugar until it reaches an amber caramel color. Don’t let it burn! Once your caramel is amber, add the 12 tablespoons of butter all at once. Whisk the butter into the caramel until fully melted, and then remove the pan from the heat. Slowly pour the heavy cream into the caramel. Whisk until all the cream is incorporated and the caramel is smooth. Finally, whisk in the sea salt. Set aside to cool.

For cream cheese filling:

Pour 1 cup of the prepared caramel over the cooked crust. Sprinkle the caramel layer with 1/4 cup of the pecans. Set the remaining caramel aside. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with the 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of flour until the batter is smooth. Add in the eggs and beat until combined. In a separate bowl, combine the apples, cinnamon and remaining 1 tablespoon of flour until well mixed. Fold into the cream cheese mixture. Pour over the crust.

Place the springform pan in a large roasting pan and fill the bottom of the roasting pan with 1 inch of hot water. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Remove from oven, pour remaining caramel on top of cheesecake and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup pecans over top. Return to oven for 10-15 more minutes until cheesecake is set. Remove from oven and take the cheesecake out of the roasting pan.

Let cool an hour, run a thin knife around edge of cheesecake, and cool completely. Remove from pan and refrigerate.