02 December 2013

Apple Butter Cheesecake Cake

This cake is too much.  I know it's too much.  It's too much everything -- too much time, too much effort, too much sugar, too much cream cheese.  It runs contrary to my usual methods.  I tend to go the route of minimum effort for maximum result.  I've worked for years on getting that down to a science.  Every now and again, though, I get the itch to bust out a real showstopper.  I had that itch this year for Thanksgiving.  This cake is what resulted from that itch.

I'm not quite sure why I got that itch for our family Thanksgiving.  It's too much for our little gathering.  We also get my mom's chocolate meringue pie every year.  It's one of those things that's so good and perfect, she doesn't have a choice in making one.  It is expected of her and she always pulls through for us.  Her chocolate pie is her own rendition of the one her mom made.  She's made it darker and more chocolate-y and that's almost never a bad thing.  I was also so pretty this year with the sugar beads on the meringue that I had to take a picture and share with you.  Try not to drool on your computer.  I'm having trouble with that myself as I sit here and type.

The idea of a cheesecake cake is not a new thing -- Copeland's and Cheesecake Factory keep them in their rotation.  I had totally forgotten they existed until I saw one on Bloglovin last week and then I couldn't get the idea out of my head.  I used my apple butter cake as the base because it tastes like the holidays and is dense enough to stack with a layer of cheesecake, which is obviously heavier than a shmear of icing in between the layers.  The cheesecake layer is pretty basic stuff.  The icing is even more of the too much-ness -- brown butter cream cheese.  Because cream cheese icing just wasn't enough on its own.  Plus, the brown butter works really well with the apple butter cake. 

One thing to remember about this cake -- you have to start it the day before you want to eat it.  The cheesecake layer needs to be completely set before you start sandwiching it between the layers of cake.  This involves spending the night in the freezer.  So, plan ahead if you want the over the top cream cheese, cakey goodness on your table.

Apple Butter Cheesecake Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
makes one 9" three layer cake

Print me, Please!!!
for the cheesecake layer:

Two 8 oz pkgs cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

for the apple butter cake:
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 cups apple butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt

for the frosting:
1/2 cup butter
Two 8 oz pkgs cream cheese, room temperature
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

To make the cheesecake layer:  Preheat the oven to 325°.  Put 3 cups of water on the stove and bring to a boil while you make the batter.  Spray a 9" springform pan with nonstick spray and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until it's completely smooth.  Add the sugar and salt and beat until well combined, 2-3 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, blending until just combined after each addition.  Mix in the sour cream, whipping cream, and vanilla until smooth.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Set a large boiler pan or other deep oven-proof dish onto the bottom oven rack.  Pour the boiling water into the pan.  Place the cheesecake on the oven rack directly above the pan with the water.  Bake the cheesecake for 55 to 60 minutes or until set to the touch and no longer jiggly in the center.  Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Cool the cheesecake in the refrigerator for 1 hour, then transfer to the freezer overnight to set completely.

To make the cake:  Preheat the oven to 350°.  Spray two 9" cake pans with nonstick spray; set aside.

Beat the butter and sugars on medium speed for 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy.  Add the apple butter, vanilla, and eggs; beat until smooth and well combined.  Stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Stir the flour mixture into the apple butter mixture until just combined.    Pour the batter into the prepared pans.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until springy to the touch and a tester comes out clean.  Let the cakes cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting:  Brown the butter until nutty smelling and deep golden brown.  Pour the butter into a small bowl to cool for 30 minutes before using.  Beat the butter, cream cheese, and extracts on until completely smooth.  Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth and fluffy.

To assemble the cake:  Place one layer of cooled cake on a cake plate or platter.  Remove the cheesecake from the freezer and remove the sides of the springform pan.  Peel off the parchment paper.  Place the cheesecake on top of the first cake layer.  If your cheesecake is not the same size as your cake layers, you can trim it with a knife, but you will need to let it defrost some first.  Place the second cake layer on top of the cheesecake layer.

To frost the cake:  Using a long, thin spatula, apply a very thin layer of icing over the top and sides of the cake (this is called a crumb coat).  Place the cake in the refrigerator to let the icing set for 30 minutes.  Once the first layer is set, apply the second layer of icing.  Add a large scoop of icing to the top of the cake and use your long, thin spatula to spread the icing evenly over the top and sides of the cake.  I used pecan halves pressed into the icing for garnish.  You can garnish however you would like.

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