Gingerbread Cheesecake with Caramelized Apples & Molasses Whipped Cream

Gingerbread in a Cheesecake for a Showstopper Cake

gingerbread cheesecake

Years ago in my first cookbook I made a wedding cake made from a NY-style cheesecake batter with a layer of caramelized apples between the crust and the filling. Recently while staring at a Starbucks sign for Gingerbread Latte, inspiration struck. Combine the two concepts. Here a gingersnap crust holds a layer of caramelized apples, which is topped with a thick layer of gingerbread-flavored cheesecake. The thin, crisp apple slices decorating the top are from Simple & Crisp, a company that makes dried apples, oranges and pears. Think of them as a natural, gluten-free cracker that can be used as a base for cheese, crumbled over granola or ice cream, or used as we did here as a delicious embellishment. They are optional, but really create a showstopper of a cake.

gingerbread cheesecake2

Gingerbread Cheesecake with Caramelized Apples and Molasses Whipped Cream
Makes: Serves 12 to 14
Gingersnap Crust:
  • 1 ¼ cups very fine gingersnap crumbs, such as Nabisco Gingersnaps
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
Caramelized Apples:
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 large or 4 medium apples such as Cortland, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • ⅔ cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 1 tablespoon unsulphured molasses
  • 1 tablespoon firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 12 apple crisps, optional, such as Simple & Crisp
  • Pastry bag
  • Large star tip, such as a Wilton 1M
  1. For the Crust: Position rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9 x 3-inch springform pan with nonstick spray; it must be a full 3-inches high – measure! Wrap exterior with a double layer of foil coming up the sides of the pan. Have larger roasting pan ready to create a water bath.
  2. Mix gingersnap crumbs, sugar and lesser amount of melted butter in a small bowl using a wooden spoon. The crumbs should become evenly, but lightly, saturated with the butter. Firmly press a clump together using your fingers; it should hold together. If it still crumbles, add part or all of the remaining butter and combine well.
  3. Scrape crumb crust into prepared pan. Pat evenly into pan, covering entire bottom. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes or until dry and just beginning to color. Cool while you make caramelized apples and cheesecake filling; turn oven down to 325°F.
  4. For the Caramelized Apples: Melt the butter in a large skillet, stir in the brown sugar and allow to simmer while stirring for about 30 seconds. Stir in cinnamon, then stir in apples until they are coated well. Continue to cook, folding the apples over from time to time and cook over medium heat until apples caramelize, become glossy and coated and take on a golden glaze. They should be caramelized but still have a little bit of crisp texture and not be mushy. Set aside off heat.
  5. For the Cheesecake: Beat cream cheese until creamy with flat paddle of stand mixer on medium-high speed, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar gradually and beat until creamy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the molasses, scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla, then beat in spices and salt. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down after each addition, allowing each egg to be absorbed before continuing. Make sure batter is ultra-smooth. Scrape caramelized apples over crust and spread evenly, then scrape in cheesecake batter to cover the apples and smooth into an even layer. Place foil-wrapped pan in larger roasting pan and add enough hot water to the larger pan to come up the sides of the foil-wrapped pan about 1-inch.
  6. Bake for about 1 hour to 1 hour 5 minutes. The top should look a bit dull and puffed; the center will still jiggle slightly. Remove pan from water, unwrap foil and cool completely on rack. Refrigerate at least overnight. Once chilled, cake may be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
  7. Before serving, run an icing spatula around edge of cheesecake to loosen; remove sides of pan and place on display platter.
  8. For the Topping: Whip the cream, molasses and brown sugar until firm peaks form. Scrape into pastry bag fitted with star tip and create 12 evenly spaced rosettes on top of cheesecake. Place apple crisps, if using, on rosettes right before serving.

Bakepedia Tips

  • Make sure that you use unsulphured/unsulfured molasses. You might see it spelled either way. It has the right flavor profile. Blackstrap molasses has too strong of a flavor and will not work for this recipe.
  • Note the timing mentioned in storage. While most cheesecakes will last for days in the fridge, this one has a shorter optimum shelf life. The caramelized apples add a wonderful textural and flavor component to this cake, but they begin to make the crust soggy upon longer storage.

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