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Tag Archives: fall baking

Fall Fun Day

Two Saturdays ago, my family and I celebrated our 4th Annual Fall Fun Day. What is Fall Fun Day? It’s one of the best days of the year and basically a holiday. I pick a Saturday in mid-October when everyone is free and we pack in all the fall activities we can! This year included the farmer’s market, apple picking, baking, hiking, and had the weather cooperated, a corn maze.

Baking

For me, the festivities began Friday afternoon as soon as my I got done with my monogastric nutrition class. I stopped at the store for a few baking essentials and was soon scurrying around the kitchen making a Pumpkin Cheesecake for dinner on Saturday night.

Come Saturday morning, I was out of bed at 4 AM because there was still lots to be done in the kitchen. My first task was French pressing a piping hot mug full of Purity Coffee, so I’d have plenty of energy for a long day. I quickly whipped up a loaf of pumpkin bread to keep in the freezer for later in the week and then a batch of Pumpkin Scones with Maple Nutmeg Glaze for breakfast. By 7:30, Daniel and I were heading out the door to Dane County Farmer’s Market.

Farmer’s Market

There are quite a few farmer’s markets in the Madison area, but nothing compares to the Saturday market on the capital square. Vendors line the sidewalks, selling produce, meat, cheese, flowers, honey, maple syrup, herbs, and baked goods. The market opens at 6:15 am and the earlier you can arrive the better. The crowds are lighter and there’s just something about the downtown atmosphere with the crisp air on a misty fall morning as the sun is just coming up.

Daniel and I met up with his mom and my sister around 8 o’clock. We took a couple laps around the Square, stopping by our favorite vendors’ booths. After that, our next stop was Appleberry Farm.

Apple Picking

Even though it’s getting late in the season, we were still able to pick our own Empire and Ida Red Apples. Just a quick PSA for anyone planning to go apple picking: it doesn’t work that well to sit on someone’s shoulders to reach the high ones. Let someone tall grab them or just let them be. There are plenty more within arm’s reach. 🙂 We did actually find a lot of apples despite being told that the trees were pretty picked over. Last night, I decided to use them to make a cranberry apple crisp, so stay tuned for that recipe coming soon!

With our apples and fresh cider, we made a quick stop at my parent’s house. We dropped off our goods from the morning and then everyone plus Macy, the dog, piled in two cars for the short trip up to Devil’s Lake State Park.

Hiking

We first hiked up the East Bluff Trail. It’s a pretty strenuous climb with lots of uneven “stairs” in the rocks. Macy, of course, had absolutely no problem, scaling the rocks like a little mountain goat. I, on the other hand am much less nimble, but I’ve hiked the trail enough times to handle it well.

And even though it hike is difficult, when you see the view from the top, it’s completely worth it. From the colorful bluffs in the distance to the serene lake below, it’s really a breath-taking sight!

Instead of taking the trail down and all the way around the lake, everyone seemed about ready for lunch, so be opted for the direct route back to ground level. After a picnic, Lauren was cold and tired, so she went home with my parents and Macy. Meanwhile, the rest of us took a nice walk along the lake shore.

Dinner

When we arrived back at the house, Lauren and my mom were making a fall inspired charcuterie board. Basically, it’s a big platter of various cheeses, meats, fruits, crackers, and other little snacks. To learn how to make one yourself, check out Lauren’s blog here!

Everything was so delicious, but we had to save room for buffalo stew, homemade bread, and of course pumpkin cheesecake! The plan was to go to the Treinen Farm corn maze that night, but by this time it was cold and rainy. A little further north they were even getting some light snow! So after a long day outside, we decided to stay home, play some games, and just relax.

Overall, I’d have to say that the 4th Annual Fall Fun Day was a success! I hope you all decide to give it a try this year or next!

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Caramel Apple Cheesecake

This Caramel Apple Cheesecake is sure to be a crowd-pleaser this holiday season–it features a delicate graham cracker crust, a rich apple spice filling, and is topped with crunchy struesel and gooey, homemade caramel!

Delicate graham cracker crust with a rich apple spice filling, topped with crunchy struesel and gooey caramel!

For as long as I can remember, one of the dessert options at Thanksgiving has been pumpkin cheesecake. Before I took to the kitchen, my mom always made a no-bake version and it was really good! Then a few years ago, I discovered the art of cheesecake-making from scratch and took charge of holiday desserts–Pumpkin with Chocolate Ganache for Thanksgiving and Chocolate Peppermint for Christmas.

The other thing is that fall and Christmas are my absolute jam and I’m very stringent about holding to all the family traditions. But then this Caramel Apple Cheesecake happened. And after some discussion and family taste-testing, we’ve concluded it needs to make an appearance at this Thanksgiving. Give the recipe a try and I bet you’ll be wanting to do the same! It’s pretty involved though, so read through the whole thing before getting started.

Other Cheesecake Recipes to Try:

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

This Caramel Apple Cheesecake is sure to be a crowd-pleaser this holiday season–it features a delicate graham cracker crust, a rich apple spice filling, and is topped with crunchy struesel and gooey, homemade caramel!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apple, cake, caramel, cheesecake, fall dessert, streusel
Servings: 8 slices
Author: Rachel Alexandra

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Filling

  • 2-3 Wealthy apples (or your favorite pie apple)
  • cinnamon and sugar to taste
  • 3-4 tbsp butter divided
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 16 oz cream cheese softened
  • â…“ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp dark maple syrup
  • 1 tsp Penzeys ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Penzeys ground nutmeg
  • Pinch Penzeys ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

Struesel Topping

  • ¼ cup cold butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • â…“ cup brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp white sugar

Caramel Sauce

  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 ½ tsp arrowroot starch
  • ¼ cup dark maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp sucanat
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

Crust

  • First, grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch spring from pan with canola spray or melted coconut oil/butter.
  • Then put the graham crackers in a food processor and grind until they are just small crumbs. Add the sugar and pulse a few more times.
  • In a small bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter. Finally, press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.

Struesel

  • Combine the flour and sugar. Then cut in the butter and using a pastry blender (or by hand) break up the butter into pea-size pieces. Set aside until the cheesecake is ready to bake.

Filling

  • In a frying pan, melt 1-2 Tbs. of butter. Add the apples with cinnamon and sugar to taste. Sauté until easily pierced with a fork. (They should be soft, but not applesauce.) Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Add approximately an inch of water to the bottom of a double boiler and melt 1 cup of white chocolate chips on medium heat. Stir every few minutes and be sure not to get any water in the chocolate. When the chips are melted, remove from heat and stir in 2 Tbs. of melted butter. Allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes.
  • In a large, deep bowl, combine the somewhat-cooled white chocolate mixture, cream cheese, sugar, maple syrup, spices and salt. Use an stand or hand mixer to mix all the ingredients until smooth and creamy. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl every so often to ensure that everything is well combined. Don't to use the slowest setting and do not over mix. Gently fold in the prepared apples.
  • Preheat the oven to 325°F. Scoop the filling in the spring form pan and using a small offset spatula, smooth it out until even. Sprinkle the struesel over the top.
  • Bake for 35 minutes, making sure to not open the oven! Any rapid change in temperature or humidity can lead to cracking and caving.
  • Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake rest in the oven for another 30 minutes, still not opening the door. When the time is up, remove from oven and let the cheesecake cool for approximately 30 more minutes before letting it chill and set up in the refrigerator for at least three hours.

Caramel Sauce

  • While the cheesecake is cooling, whisk the arrowroot starch and 2 tbsp of cream in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • In a saucepan, heat the rest of the cream, maple syrup, sucanat, and sugar. Whisk often and bring to a boil. After 10 seconds of boiling, add the butter.
  • Decrease heat and simmer for 10 minutes, continuing to whisk. Add the slurry and gently boil another minute or two. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and salt.
  • After it is somewhat cooled, it can be drizzled over the entire cheesecake or added to individual slices. Enjoy!

Notes on Caramel Apple Cheesecake:

When selecting white chocolate, make sure it actually contains cocoa butter and is free from hydrogenated oils and artificial flavors. (I get mine at Trader Joe’s.)

It’s important to make sure the base of of the spring-form pan is right side up. However, even if it is, it’s still possible for butter to leak out the bottom. To prevent a major mess, line a baking sheet with foil and place it under the cake pan.

Allow the cream cheese to reach room temperature before use so that it mixes smoothly. It will also help prevent the need to over-mix which can cause the cheesecake to cave in.

Whatever you do, do not open the oven until it is time to take it out. I know it’s tempting, but you just have to trust me on this one! It is imperative that the pan is put together correctly and a baking sheet is below the pan. Otherwise you may have to open the oven to clean up burned butter as the house fills with haze…yes, I learned this the hard way.

Don’t cover the cheesecake until it is totally cool to prevent condensation from collecting on top and don’t release the sides until it has set up for 3 hours in the fridge.