Ok, one: these were not very photogenic. They taste much better than they look. Please believe me. Two: I’m very bad. I’m backed up on recipes and I have so many that I never got around to posting (from the previous 2 months when we had free hotel room stays at Foxwoods MGM Grand 2 days every week–yes, that was probably the most amazing 2 months ever). Which leads me to a confession I want to make: lately, with the weather getting nicer, I’ve been feeling less inspired to be creative with baking. I want simplicity, possibly because I feel like eating “lighter” when the warmer weather comes around, and possibly because it’s less work and I still haven’t done my spring cleaning yet.
These came about one cold night in March when my dad gave me a jar of Apple Butter and said,”Go home and bake something with this.” I love a challenge, especially when I’m hibernating in my kitchen and keeping myself warm near the stove. There’s also something about cheesecake when it’s cold outside that is so perfect to me. I have no idea why? Is there a scientific explanation behind that? Am I the only one?
I could just be tired. At this time yesterday, I wasn’t even asleep yet. Yes, my love for the morning and my love for late at night when this timezone is asleep don’t go well together. Determined to not have that happen again, I tried to go to sleep at around 2am. I don’t know what happened. I got a couple hours of sleep, and finally got out of bed around 6:30, surrendering to my urge to be up in the morning instead of pretending I was still able to sleep. So here I am; my body a bit confused at itself, going back in time to the end of March. When it was still very cold.
Originally, I expected this to be a “blondie”, but with the browned butter, dark brown sugar, and cinnamon, it ended up looking like a brunette. Only made sense. Hey, what do you get when an apple pie walks into a room, meets a cheesecake…..nevermind, I won’t even attempt to be funny right now.
Apple Browned Butter Cheesecake Brunettes
Makes 12 cheesecake “brunettes”
- 1 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 1/4 stick unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
For Apple Butter Cheesecake Topping
- 1 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
- 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup apple butter (I used Whole Earth All Natural Tap’nApple Apple Butter Spread)
1. Melt 9 tablespoons of unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks) into a skillet (not non-stick) over medium heat. Whisk continuously and the butter will begin to bubble within a couple of minutes. When the bubbling slows down and it begins to foam, watch carefully as the butter begins to slowly brown. It will look as though a red powder has formed underneath the melted butter. At this point, you can take it off the heat, and transfer to a large heat safe bowl (or just do the next step directly in the pan and then transfer to a large bowl once it’s cooled a bit)
2. Add the dark brown sugar and granulated sugar directly to the butter and mix.
3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a separate bowl and set aside.
4. Add vanilla and room temperature egg to the butter and sugar mixture, combine thoroughly.
5. Cut softened cream cheese into cubes and place into a bowl with 1 egg yolk and sugar. Mix on medium speed with an electric or handheld mixer until fully combined and creamy. Add the apple butter and mix to fully incorporate.
6. Line a 9″ square pan with aluminum foil and grease with nonstick cooking spray. Allow foil to overhang the sides, so there will be easy removal once brownies are cooked and cooled.
7. In 3 batches, combine flour mixture to the wet mixture until
fully mixed together.
8. Pour batter into lined and greased pan, spread evenly. Top
with cheesecake mixture and also spread that evenly.
9. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven on the middle rack for about 25-30 minutes, or until cheesecake on top is fully set. (Mine needed more time, so I covered the pan with tin foil and placed it on the lower middle rack to finish baking, but check on it at 25 minutes first.)
9. Once done, cool pan on wire rack for 10-15 minutes until set enough to lift out of pan. Grabbing the tin foil overhang, lift out of the pan and allow to fully cool on wire rack. Then cut into squares, and enjoy!