It's Official: Caramel Apple Cheesecake Is a *Heavenly* Fall Dessert

Cheesecake Factory fans, rejoice! This dense and creamy caramel apple cheesecake will satisfy all your cravings. It's not an exact copy of the famed chain's version—it's better (and you should add it to your  bucket list ASAP). A perfectly is topped with apples and drizzled with caramel before the filling goes in, then more apples and caramel are plopped on top. Bottom line: You get buttery  flavor with each and every bite. And if that's not an  dream come true, we don't know what is.

Do I need a springform pan?

With its tall sides and expandable collar, a is the secret weapon for making beautiful cheesecakes. If you don't have one, invest in one now! There are plenty of inexpensive ones on the market, and beyond cheesecake, you can use a springform pan for all sorts of tarts, deep dish pizza, and even pull-apart pigs in a blanket. If you're in a pinch, you can use an 8-inch round cake pan with tall sides (about 3 inches tall) for this cheesecake, but a springform pan is always best. 

What're the best apples for caramel apple cheesecake?

You'll want to use apples that hold their shape relatively well when baked. Two of the best? Honeycrisp and Granny Smith apples. These are the folks reach for most when baking , and they're perfect for , too. Granny Smith apples are tart and firm. Honeycrisp are on the sweeter side and only slightly less firm than Granny Smith. Choose one of these, or use a mix of both in the cheesecake for contrasting flavors and textures.

Can you cook a cheesecake without the water bath?

Technically yes, but a water bath does wonders at preventing the much dreaded cracks on top. By filling a roasting pan with boiling water to come up the sides of a springform pan, the steam helps ensure that the cheesecake will lift and cook more evenly. It will also prevent the cheesecake from shrinking and collapsing as it cools. Just make sure to wrap the pan tightly with aluminum foil to keep out the water and to avoid a soggy crust. 

Are there any shortcuts? 

To save on time and effort, this recipe calls for microwaving the apple topping. You’ll get perfectly softened apples without the hassle of sautéing. Purchasing graham cracker crumbs for the crust saves you from having to pull out your food processor.

Can I make this ahead of time?

The cheesecake and apple topping can be baked and prepared a day in advance, chilled separately and assembled just before serving.