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Apricot Cheese Cake

In baseball parlance, sometimes ya strike out, and sometimes you hit one out of the park. Tonight, I hit one out of the park.

While finishing up Mom’s cook book this afternoon, I came across a recipe for Sicilian Apricot Cheese Cakes. The title caught me immediately, but when I read the recipe, I, uh… well… let’s just say it didn’t sound very Sicilian. It was fine as far as 1960-ish desserts go and I’m sure I would have loved it as a kid, but it just didn’t hit the elder me.

I read the recipe to Victor and he felt the same way – and then he said “Why don’t you make your cheese cake with Aunt Emma’s filling?” We always have leftover apricot filling when we make Aunt Emma’s Apricot Cookies. The extra filling goes into other cookies as thumbprints or jelly strips, and it even gets used on toast. Nothing goes to waste around here…

His next question was “Do you have anything for the crust?” The usual crust is made from graham crackers and walnuts. We didn’t have any graham crackers but we did have a big plate of Greek Walnut Cookies I baked off last night! They were the last of the Christmas cookies that just never got baked. The dough has been in the ‘fridge for 2 weeks. Did I mention that nothing goes to waste around here?!?

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So armed with cookies and an idea, I got to work.

I tweaked my normal cheese cake recipe, cut back on the sugar, added apricot brandy in place of the heavy cream, and layered apricot filling as I filled the pan. I swirled in three layers of apricots…

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I also added apricots and apricot brandy to the sour cream topping. The end result was seriously stellar.

Apricot Cheese Cake

The Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups ground walnut cookies
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted

The Filling:

  • 4 pkgs cream cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup apricot brandy
  • 1 cup apricot preserves

The Topping:

  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 tbsp apricot brandy

Putting it together:

Preheat oven to 350º.  Mix cookies and butter and press evenly into bottom of 10″ springform pan.  Set aside.

Cream the cheese.  Mix in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add sugar, vanilla, and apricot brandy, mixing until smooth and light. Pour into pan and about bake 60 minutes. Remove from oven and cool about 15 minutes.  Keep oven on.

Mix topping ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Spread onto top of cheesecake.  Return to oven and bake about 7 more minutes.  Cool completely, cover, and refrigerate.

In theory, a cheese cake should sit in the ‘fridge for 24-72 hours before eating. It gives them a chance to settle and for the flavors to meld. We didn’t do that, tonight. We cut that sucker 4 hours after it went into the ‘fridge.

And it rocked.

A good-quality apricot jam or preserves would work in place of Aunt Emma’s filling, and a traditional graham cracker crust would work, as well.

I’m fighting the urge to go get another slice…

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