It’s officially autumn, guys!!! Which means it’s now completely acceptable for me to brown butter ALL THE THINGS, and I’m starting it off with the graham cracker crust of this apple cheesecake! So, I know that cracking is an aesthetic issue with the surface of cheesecakes—it doesn’t make them taste any less delicious, but a bunch of cracks all over the top of it aren’t the prettiest thing in the world. The best way to avoid cracks is to keep the cheesecake moist, and to avoid huge temperature changes. I solve the moist conundrum by baking the cheesecake with a pan of water on a separate rack in the oven to keep it nice and steamy in there, so that even though it’s exposed to a high temperature it’s not going to dry out on top.
The best way to avoid huge temperature changes is to turn off the oven after the cheesecake is done baking, open the oven door, and allow it to cool to room temperature gradually. Once it is completely cooled, (like, 3 hours later) then you can serve it. But I’m gonna be real, as soon as you refrigerate it those cracks are going to appear. Since there’s a bunch of little slices of apples in this one, it’s basically created a bunch of potential fissure lines for cracks along the top of the cake. So if you’re making this for a special occasion and don’t want a bunch of cracks on top, try to time making it the same day that you’re serving it so it has lots of time to cool but doesn’t need to be refrigerated yet. And if you end up with a ton of cracks on it after putting it in the fridge and that makes you sad, just throw some sliced almonds and powdered sugar on top and no one will know the difference (I’ve found that this combination can heal most cosmetic dessert wounds).
Back to the brown butter, though, I tend to cook a lot with it in the fall since it has that perfect toasted, nutty and rich flavor that pairs so well with pretty much all autumnal produce (squash, apples, pecans, pears….y’all know the drill). If you’re unfamiliar with brown butter, it’s basically butter that you cook over medium low heat in a frying pan until it almost burns, but then you immediately take it off the heat. Basically you’re toasting the milk fat solids in the butter, and they settle at the bottom of the melted butter mixture all dark brown and toasty-like, and the rest of the melted butter juice turns this lovely deep gold color. To help guide you through your butter-browning adventure, Jeremy and I made a little how-to video about it. YAY LEARNING!
And one more thing, I’m hosting a 1-day photography +storytelling workshop in Los Angeles December 2nd at Light Lab and I’d love to have you join me! You can read more about it and register here and via the link below. It’s the last workshop I’m doing this year, would love to see you this winter!!