Oh my goodness, this cheesecake is addictive. I made it for Christmas, and after everyone left and the house was (relatively) clean, I couldn’t stop sneaking tiny little slivers of it. The crust is gingery, the apples are roasted and sweet, and the no-bake cheesecake filling is tart, rich, and yet still magically light. Since it’s no-bake, there’s no worrying about water baths or baking temperatures or any of the tricky parts of baking a traditional cheesecake, and the filling whips up in the time it takes to bake the crust. After a few hours in the refrigerator, you’ve got all good things about cheesecake without any of the hard work. That’s a win in my book!
My well documented love for cheesecake struck again this holiday season, and I was determined to make a winter cheesecake for the crowd coming over to our house. I did attempt to make it the traditional way, with a water bath and eggs in the filling, but one leaky springform pan later and that version was a sad and soggy mess. And so I kept the spicy ginger crust and sweet apple filling from that version and went searching for a good no-bake recipe. I found one over on Serious Eats, so I kept my crust and added the apples to the new filling, and voila! An easy, delicious winter cheesecake was born.
The crust for this cake starts with gingersnap cookies. Place 30 of them in the bowl of a food processor, along with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon. Pulse until the cookies are fine crumbs, then add 4 tablespoons of melted butter and pulse until the whole mixture is wet. Turn this out into a buttered 9” pie pan, and press the crumbs as evenly as you can along the bottom and sides of the pie pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes in a 350°F oven, and let it cool while you make the filling components.
For the apples, peel, core, and dice them into ½” to ¼” cubes. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet, then add the apples and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar to the pan. Cook the apples, turning occasionally, until they are browned and fragrant, 5-8 minutes. Set these aside and let them cool while you make the cheesecake filling.
For the cheesecake filling, add 16 oz of softened cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add ¾ cup sugar, the juice from 1 lemon, ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract, and ⅛ teaspoon salt. Beat this at medium-high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the heavy cream and switch to the whisk attachment; beat the mixture until it forms stiff peaks, 2-3 minutes. Fold the cooled apples into the cheesecake filling and stir with a spatula to combine. Pour this mixture into the cooled crust and either smooth the top with a spatula, or smooth it and use the back of a spoon to make swoops and swirls. Place the cheesecake in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight. You can serve the cake cold, or you can leave it out at room temperature for up to an hour before serving.
- 30 gingersnap cookies
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 16 oz cream cheese, softened
- ¾ cup sugar
- Juice from 1 lemon
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cup heavy cream
- 3 golden delicious apples, peeled, cored, and diced
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the gingersnaps in a food processor. Pulse until they are fine crumbs, then add the brown sugar and cinnamon and pulse a few more times. Pour in the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are moistened.
- Butter the bottom and sides of a pie pan and pour the crumbs into it. Press the crumbs as evenly as you can into the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.
- To make the apple mixture, melt the butter in a large saute pan until bubbling. Add the diced apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are golden brown. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the apples and stir to combine, and cook for another minute. Pour the apples into a bowl and allow them to cool while you make the cheesecake filling.
- To make the filling, combine the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix on low for a minute or two, then increase the speed to medium and mix until it is soft and smooth. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Switch to the whisk attachment and pour in the heavy cream. Mix at a low speed to combine everything, then increase the speed to high and mix until the mixture holds stiff peaks, about 4 minutes.
- Gently stir in the cooked apples, then pour the filling into the cooled gingersnap crust and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. You can use the back of a spoon to make dips and swirls in the top, if desired. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.