When you read the title, “Caramel Apple Pie Cheesecake Dip” you pictured a bowl of dip with some dippers on the side. You know I’m right. (Or maybe you were completely distracted by the amazing giveaway?) Either way, this dip actually looks like a real dessert…it’s almost…fancy :) Maybe not “fancy” fancy, but perhaps “rustic” fancy? One look at it and you can see that it’s a dessert dip that’s fancy enough to hang out (or stand out) with the rest of the dessert table.
It’s always hard for me to figure out what I want to eat at a dessert table. There’s just too many choices and I want to try everything. It’s just not possible (though trust me, I give it a valiant effort :) Have you ever tried to cut a sliver of a fruit pie? I have. It doesn’t work. It can quickly turn into a pie crime scene, while the person waiting for the next slice of pie looks on in horror wondering what they’re going to do with the mess you’ve now made.
But this dip? It actually looks like a pie, but you don’t have to make any crust. You don’t have to bake it. You don’t have to slice it. You can have a little or a lot and you won’t mess up anything. It’s easy to make AND you can make it ahead. What else do you need to know? Oh, yeah…it’s really good. It actually tastes like a Caramel Apple Pie Cheesecake, just with a creamy dip texture.
One of the reasons it’s so good is because you’re actually making a fresh apple pie topping. You could cheat and use canned, but you won’t get the flavor, and you certainly won’t get the same amount of apples. There’s always a lot of goo, for lack of a better word, in canned pie fillings and the texture of the fruit is always off. So, I just make it. It’s easy to do. Just chop up some apples and cook them on the stove with a handful of ingredients. I dice the apples for easy dipping; you don’t want to be chasing down big chunks of apple with your little cookie.
For the cheesecake layer, I was inspired my favorite Whipped Cream Cream Cheese Frosting and changed the proportions of sugar and cream for a thicker mixture with more cheesecake-y flavor. I even switched up the directions so that it can all be made in one bowl, quick and easy.
Once the cheesecake mixture is ready, spread it on a serving plate. I used a 12″ dessert tray, but you could use any shape tray or even a pie plate. It will depend upon how thick you want your dip to be. I like to spread it thin and top it generously. I think it makes for easier scooping and makes for a good fruit to cheese ratio.
The cheesecake layer is then topped with the cooled apple pie mixture. I used two spoons to evenly drop the filling on top of the creamy cheesecake. I left about a 1/2″ border when I spread the cream cheese mixture, then another 1/2″ border when I topped it with the apples. Then caramel syrup is drizzled all over the top. Caramel and apples again? Yes, again and again. It still is apple season, after all, and I can always find a reason to add caramel :)
I leave the borders for two reasons…one, it makes for a pretty presentation. Two, it leaves me room to make a border of delicious dippers. The dip is sturdy enough to hold them, so I just stuck the cookies right into the edge and overlapped them around the dish. I used Trader Joe’s Vanilla Wafers and Triple Ginger Cookie Thins. I’m giving you a link so you can see what they look like, but it’s much, much cheaper to just purchase them in the store. Any dippers you love will do. I picked these for flavor and shape.
So yes, that’s what I used and they looked pretty, pretty, pretty. But…we got a little crazy when it came time to eat it. We broke out every possible dipper in the house to see what would work with this delicious dip. First, the vanilla wafers were good, my family really liked those, but for me, they were a little sweet with the dip. I liked the ginger thins better. Then, I remembered I had Trader Joe’s Meyer Lemon Cookie Thins! Those were fantastic with it and the lemony flavor made the dip taste even more like traditional cheesecake. They would have been beautiful layered with the ginger thins.
We tried pretzels and potato chips and graham crackers and butter crackers. My faves were the triple ginger and lemon cookie thins…and I thought the butter crackers were really good too. My crackers were part of an assortment, but you could use Ritz, Townhouse or Club crackers. The saltiness of the cracker worked beautifully with the sweet, creamy, fruity dip. I loved them!
If you need an easy, impressive looking, make ahead dessert for your next event…make this Caramel Apple Pie Cheesecake Dip. It’s got a little “fancy” going on in looks…
and a lot of “lick your plate clean” taste!
Caramel Apple Pie Cheesecake Dip
For the apple pie topping:
- 1 Tablespoon salted butter
- 4 cups peeled and diced apples about 3-4 apples or 1 1/2 pounds
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice or cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons water apple juice or apple cider
For the Cheesecake layer:
- vanilla wafers
- ginger cookies
- lemon cookies
- graham crackers
- butter crackers
Make the apple pie topping. Melt butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add apples, brown sugar, lemon juice, apple pie spice. Cook apples, stirring occasionally just until fork tender but not mushy. Sprinkle flour over mixture and stir to combine. Stir in water, apple juice or apple cider and continue to cook until mixture is thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and allow to cool.( I placed my bowl in a bowl that was shallowly filled with ice and a little bit of water to help speed the cooling process.) Once cool, refrigerate until ready to use.
For the cheesecake layer, in a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add salt, sugar and vanilla and beat until well combined. Add whipping cream and do some light stirring with a spoon or spatula to get it lightly combined. This will help to eliminate some splashing once you turn the mixer back on. Once you have it pre-mixed, turn on the mixer and beat at high speed until fully combined and mixture gets fluffy and thick. You should see the beaters leaving definite trails in the mixture. If you pull a spatula through the mixture, it should leave a clear path.
Spread the cheesecake mixture on a serving plate. My serving plate was 12" wide and I spread the mixture evenly stopping about 1/2" from the edge.
Carefully spoon cooled apple topping evenly over cheesecake mixture stopping about 1/2" from the edge of the cheesecake. I used a second spoon to scrape the topping off the filling spoon so I had more control of where and how much of the topping dropped on top of the cheesecake layer. This is especially helpful around the edges. Drizzle with caramel sauce.
Serve with dippers on the side, or use them to decorate the dip by sticking the edges of your dippers into the cheesecake mixture and overlapping them as you go around the edge of the plate. Do not do this step in advance or the edge of your cookies will soften in the dip. It will still be good, but you might need a spoon to scrape up the softened edges. Serve extra dippers on the side.
*You can adjust the sugar in the apple pie mixture to taste. I used 1/3 cup, but remember if you top with caramel syrup it will add even more sweetness. I may try it with a 1/4 cup next time.
*You can make both the apple topping and the cheesecake layer a day ahead. Spread the cheesecake layer on your serving tray and store, covered tightly in the refrigerator. Make apples the day before and store in a separate bowl in the refrigerator. When it's time to serve, spoon the apples evenly over the top of the cheesecake layer. I was worried the apples would weep and get too juicy if they sat on the cheesecake layer overnight, but my leftovers stayed perfectly intact. I just think it's easier to store a tray that you don't have to worry about ruining the top.
*If you use the cookie border, put them in just before serving or the part of the cookie stuck in the dip will soften...they will still stay in place, but might be harder to scoop.
*I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese but you can use full fat or fat free. I think Philadelphia brand is the best. I use it straight out of the refrigerator and I never have an issue with lumps. I like use it cold so that it doesn't warm up the cream when I'm whipping it.
*You can adjust the flour and liquid (water, apple juice or cider) as you need to for your apple mixture. These ratios worked well for me. You don't want a topping that's too juicy or too thick or it will be difficult to dip.
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