Well, I already went apple picking…. three weeks ago. But I still wanted to share the experience with you!
On my way back to Atlanta from Raleigh, NC, I drove across 1-40 to Morganton to stop at Apple Hill Orchard and Cider Mill. It was a small little orchard, set right in the foothills of the North Carolina Smoky Mountains. I went after the crowds, so a lot of the orchard was picked-over, but I still managed to leave the orchard with four bushels of apples! I recommend going during the week for people who hate crowds, I went on Wednesday and I was one of the only people out in the trees… I didn’t have to worry about fighting over the perfectly ripe dangling apples.
I was told by one of the orchard’s clerks that the only apples I could pick were Gold Rush, a tart variety with a little bit of sweetness, comparable to Honeycrisp. As I walked down the row of trees towards the Gold Rush orchards, I saw plenty of Golden Delicious trees with apples still hanging on them. I decided to play dumb and pick a basket of Golden Delicious because they are one of my favorites.
When I finally got to the Gold Rush, they looked exactly the same as the Golden Delicious! So how was I to know the difference?
I laughed at myself as I scoured the trees for the biggest, ripest apples. I kept getting twigs and branches stuck in my hair. I’m pretty sure I broke the rules when I climbed on a sturdier branch of the Gold Rush tree to pick three perfectly round apples. I came back from the orchards bearing two heavy buckets of apples and to my delight the cashier didn’t notice the difference between Golden Delicious and Gold Rush!
Another reason I had been wanting to go apple picking was to get some LEGIT apple cider… and alas! I finally got my two half-gallon jugs! I really wanted to get my money’s worth, so I also bought two bags of already picked apples: Winesap and my favorite Gala. I needed a wagon to pull my load back to the car.
And now, three weeks later, I still have ten Gold Rush, five Golden Delicious, and two Winesap apples left! I’ve been looking for ways to cook them… besides my Cinnamon Vanilla Applesauce, which really helps use multiple apples quickly.
Recipes to come:Pumpkin Apple Bread Pudding and of course a Thanksgiving Apple Crumble. But today I share the Caramel Apple Brownie Cheesecake, adapted from Cooking Light.
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
- 2 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, divided
- 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups peeled and diced Gold Rush apples (or other tart variety)
Caramel Apple Topping
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 5 large Gold Rush apples (about 2 1/2 lb.), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
- Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Reduce oven temperature to 325°. Sprinkle pecans over bottom of a greased and floured shiny 9-inch springform pan.
- Beat cream cheese, granulated sugar, and vanilla at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until blended and smooth. Add 3 eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
- Whisk together brown sugar, melted butter, and remaining egg in a large bowl until blended.
- Stir together flour and next 3 ingredients; add to brown sugar mixture, and stir until blended. Stir in apples. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Carefully spoon cream cheese mixture over batter.
- Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until set. Remove from oven, and gently run a knife around outer edge of cheesecake to loosen from sides of pan. (Do not remove sides of pan.) Cool completely in pan on a wire rack (about 2 hours). Transfer to a serving plate.
Meanwhile, prepare Caramel Apple Topping ….
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add sugar and lemon juice, and cook, stirring constantly with a long-handled wooden spoon, 5 to 6 minutes or until mixture turns a light golden brown. Add apple wedges. Cook, stirring often, 15 to 18 more minutes or until apples are tender and caramelized. Remove from heat; cool 20 minutes.