I finally started baking again and oh boy did I go hard my first time back! What better way to get my mojo back by baking this wonderfully creamy, thick apricot cheesecake, topped with a delicious amaretto spiked caramel! I think the universe was just waiting for something truly awesome to come into my head before I could bake again, or maybe subconsciously I felt I had to go really big to make up for my absence in the kitchen. Either way, I was so happy with the results – this cheesecake disappeared pretty quickly in my house, despite the size of it!
The inspiration came about when I picked up some apricots from the Indian supermarket by me, I like apricots a lot but I’ve never really done much with them so I decided to pick up a few to see if I could get them to spark my imagination. And they did! Cheesecake is one of my absolutely favourite desserts, if not my actual favourite, and I really don’t make them often enough – so the apricots were destined for a cheesecake! I can’t really say where the inspiration for the amaretto caramel came from, but I’ve been wanting to bake with amaretto for a while now (hopefully one day I’ll work up the courage to make some amaertti cookies!) and almond and apricot are a good match. And it really does work so well, the sweet almond liquor caramel combined with the creamy, tart cheesecake is just a match made in heaven. So good! The caramel is the sauce from my Brown Sugar & Pecan Caramel Pound Cake, it’s thick and delicious and perfect for topping a cheesecake – it sets but doesn’t get hard so the sauce stays on top of your slice but you’re not gonna break your teeth! The very bottom of the sauce layer stayed runny and gooey though, I’m not sure why but I loved it – a little bit of goo is very good in my books!
Now, let’s talk crust! I love the crust of a cheesecake, it might even be my favourite part. I’m personally offended by crustless cheesecakes to be quite honest, if there’s no crust I don’t want to know about it! And my love of cheesecake crusts is why this cake as so much of it – it has a thin crust base and then a thick crust border all the way up the sides, which is the perfect combination in my books. If you don’t like joy, then feel free to limit your crust to the base 😉 The crust on this cheesecake is a digestive biscuit base with some almond flour thrown in for a subtle almondy kick. Don’t worry if you can’t get digestives easily where you live, graham crackers are a good substitute. So now we have creamy, tart cheesecake, sweet amaretto caramel and a crunchy digestive crust – if this isn’t what dreams are made of then I don’t know what is!
Did I mention yet that the apricots are roasted before they go in the cheesecake? Yep! With a little brown sugar to caramelise them just a little and also to reduce the moisture just a little. You don’t have to worry about the liquid in the fruit too much for this particular cheesecake because it doesn’t have any cream in it, so a little extra liquid won’t make it sloppy. This is a baked cheesecake too, I’ve had and seen some wonderful no bake cheesecakes but, for me, a real cheesecake is always baked! You just can’t beat the texture and taste you get from a baked cheesecake. It does take a bit of time for the cheesecake to be ready to eat, but it’s worth it. Plus most of the time is baking, cooling and chilling, the actual hands on time isn’t very long and it’s easy to do. Trust me, you can do this! And you’re going to want to! Apricots aren’t in season in the northern hemisphere right now (mine were imported), so you can use canned apricots if you can’t find any fresh ones – just make sure to drain them really well before roasting. Another important note if you’re looking to make this cheesecake but you don’t want any alcohol in it – just swap out the amaretto for almond extract, I’ll include a note on that in the recipe.
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- 250g digestive biscuits
- 50g ground almonds
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 150g unsalted butter, melted
- 8 apricots
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1kg full fat cream cheese, room temperature
- 230g caster sugar (super fine white sugar)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk (397g can)
- 180g brown sugar
- 30g unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp amaretto
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F
- Halve the apricots and remove the stone. Lay on a baking tray, cut side up and sprinkle with 1 tbsp brown sugar. Roast in oven for 10 minutes. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, put in blender and blend until smooth. Leave to cool completely.
- Line the base of a 9"/23cm push bottom or springform cake tin with parchment paper, then grease the edges.
- To make the base, add the digestives, almond flour, sugar and cinnamon to a food processor and blitz until you have fine crumbs. Add the butter a little at time and stir in until the mixture can be easily clumped together - you might not need all the butter.
- Press the mixture into the base of the cake tin and around the edges - use the side of a glass and roll around the sides of the tin to press in the edges easily. Place in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 170C/325F.
- Add the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla to the bowl of your stand mixer (or in a large bowl if you're using a hand held) and beat on medium until smooth and fluffy, about 90 seconds.
- Add the apricot puree and beat in gently, on a low speed.
- Add the eggs one at time, beating on low between each addition.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared crust and baked for 1 hour 15 minutes. The cheesecake is done when the edges look dull and set. It will still have quite a wobble to it, that's okay - it carries on baking as it cools and you don't want to over bake it. Turn the oven off and open the door a couple of inches, leave the cheesecake to cool in the off oven for 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
- To make the caramel, put the condensed milk and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over a medium high heat, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and amaretto. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.
- Remove the cooled cheesecake from the pan and place on plate. Pour caramel over the top and spread out evenly. Chill cheesecake in fridge for a minimum of 4 hours before serving.
- If you don't have digestives, graham crackers are a good substitute
- Swap the 3 tbsp of amaretto for 1 tsp almond extract for an alcohol free version.
- An over baked cheesecake will crack along the top as it cools and there are ways to help stop this happening, however I don't personally bother with most of them unless it's important for the top to be smooth. Since there is a topping on this cheesecake it doesn't matter if there are cracks - however if you'd like to avoid them you can bake the cheesecake in a bath - place the tin in a roasting dish filled with about an inch of water before placing in the oven. If using a spring form or loose bottomed pan, wrap the outside of the pan in foil before putting in the bath.
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