There are so many things I love about the Fall season... the crisp air, leaves crunching under your feet, the bright oranges and yellows of the trees, pumpkin spice flavored everything.. but I think my absolute favorite thing about the Fall is apple picking. Andrew and I have started a tradition of going apple picking at Russell Orchards up in Ipswich, MA. It is the perfect little orchard... there is a beautiful drive through windy tree lined roads, and the moment you pull up the smell of Apple Cider Donuts fills the air. There is a little pumpkin patch with children running through it, and a small animal farm that I think Andrew and I enjoyed more than the kids.
A short hayride takes us out to the apple orchards, on the way we pass some peach trees, pear trees, and raspberry bushes. Andrew and I always have to taste test some of the apples before we find a good tree to pick from. We fill our bag with Empire & Cortland because they're the best for baking (and try to pick the biggest ones - less apples you'll have to peel!). It's always such a fun experience, and to me, it officially marks the fall season! That night, Andrew and I went straight home and baked a delicious apple pie. (which I will admit, we ate the entire thing in one weekend).
This past weekend I wanted to use up the rest of the apples we picked, so I decided to do some mini cheesecakes with an apple spice topping. We have been saving the glass jars that our Classico Pesto came in (we were going to use them for candles at our wedding), so this was the perfect time to use them!
Mini Apple Spice Cheesecakes
- 1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- 1/4 cup of butter (melted)
- 3 packages of 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 can of 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
- 3 eggs
- 3 tsp of vanilla
- 12 small glass jars
Apple Spice Topping
- 1/4 cup of butter
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1 tsp of lemon juice
- 4 large apples peeled & sliced thin
- 2 tbsp of cinnamon
- 1 tsp of nutmeg
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Put the crushed graham crackers into a medium sized bowl, add the melted butter and sugar and mix until combined.
3. Spoon the graham-mixture into 12 small glass jars until its evenly distributed. You will need to tamper the graham-mixture down in the jar. (I used a wine cork to tamper it down).
4. In a large bowl, add the cream cheese and beat with a stand mixer (or hand mixer) until its fluffy.
5. Slowly add the condensed milk and continue beating until its completely smooth.
6. Add the eggs & vanilla and mix well. (and if you love uncooked batter like me, this is where you taste-test!)
7. Spoon the cheesecake mixture into the 12 jars, trying to make them as even as possible. Only fill them up about 3/4 of the way, leaving room on top.
7. Take a deep baking dish or casserole dish, and place the 12 jars in. The cheesecakes need to take a 'bath' while baking in order for them to cook evenly. So, take boiling water and pour into the baking dish around the jars, it should fill about halfway up the jar.
8. Bake them at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. They will slightly puff up at the top and split when done. (they will not turn a golden color). Take them out very carefully as the dish is filled with boiling hot water! Remove the mini cheesecakes from the water to cool. (I put them onto another baking pan and put them right into the fridge.
While the cheesecakes are cooling, its time to make the apple spice topping.
9. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
10. Add the sugar and lemon juice and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 6-8 minutes or until it turns a golden brown color. (and smells delicious!)
11. Add the apple slices, cinnamon & nutmeg. Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the apples are soft and caramelized.
12. Remove from the heat and cool for about 20 minutes.
13. Take the cheesecake jars out of the fridge, and spoon the apple spice topping onto the cheesecakes evenly.
Next I tied some baking twine around the glass jars because what goes together better than mason jars and baking twine?
And voila! Delicious little apple spice cheesecakes in mason jars. Perfect for enjoying with family & friends.