Healthy Apple, Pecan and Honey Caramel Cheesecake

Looks like this is becoming a habit! ;) I’m completely hooked on creating healthy desserts. I’m really glad that I changed my mind about desserts not having a chance in the world at being healthy.

Although, I have to admit that I came THAT close to going back to my old thinking after someone made the following comment on another site where my pumpkin pie was featured:

Unbelievably healthy pumpkin pie? LOL. If you’re really trying to eat healthy (i.e. cut calories, cut down on carbs, cut down on fat, cut down on sugar) you’re not going to be eating any pie, much less this one…

It really brought me down at first and I’m still taking it rather hard. I probably shouldn’t even bother, but you see, I am extremely perfectionist and I tend to take criticism really personal. In this case, I think it’s the “much less this one” that hit me the most. What’s so wrong with this one that would make it much less acceptable?

So I almost gave up right then and there. I thought I’d only created 3 desserts so far and already was getting that kind of negative reaction… I wasn’t too sure that I really wanted to see more like that.

What if they were right? What if my vision of healthy was flawed?

I thought about it for a while, and then I decided I was very happy with my vision of healthy, whether it was flawed or not. To me, eating healthy doesn’t mean cutting down on calories, or carbs, or fat, or sugar, to me,eating healthy means eating A WIDE VARIETY of food that is as close as possible to what nature intended, so the least processed the better. It’s also about switching to complex carbs, whole grains, good fats and choosing sugars that come from natural sources.

Cortland Apples | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Of course, you also need to find a good balance for all this, but it doesn’t have to be complicated, and it absolutely, positively doesn’t have to be torture. It has to be fun, but mostly it has to taste and feel good.

That is my philosophy, and that is what this site is about. I am not a nutritionist and will never pretend to be. I am not here to educate, I am here to inspire. Inspire those who are so inclined and who share my vision to embrace a healthier lifestyle and adopt better eating habits, without having to sacrifice taste.

And this cake, this cake right here, just like my pumpkin pie, not only is it good, but it is also healthy. At least it is by my standards. So it is with great pride and pleasure that I share the recipe with you.

Healthy Apple Pecan and Honey Caramel Cheesecake | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

It might not be EXACTLY like I’d envisioned it, but it turned out pretty darn good if you ask me. If you are a fan of desserts that aren’t overly sweet, you will love that one. It really isn’t too sweet, it’s literally loaded with apples and the crust nice and pleasantly crunchy. The caramel sort of disappeared though, when I was hoping that it would ooze and make the cake all ooey and gooey and maybe just a tad sweeter. You know, me and my sweet tooth! ;) But still, I sure was sad when that cake was all gone…

I would redo that exact same recipe without a moment of hesitation. But you see, I already have a plan for a “new and improved” version! I think I am now  officially “unleashed”.

I have millions (alright, alright, I’ll be honest) hundreds of dessert ideas already. So stay tuned, if you care for more!

Until then, I’d be curious to find out what “eating healthy” means to you.

What’s your perception of healthy food?

Healthy Apple, Pecan and Honey Caramel Cheesecake

Yield: Serves 10-12

Nutritional Information is based on 1 of 10 servin

Healthy Apple, Pecan and Honey Caramel Cheesecake

INGREDIENTS

    Crust
  • 1½ cup graham flour
  • ½ cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup natural wheat bran
  • ¼ cup wheat germ
  • 75g crushed pecans
  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp liquid honey
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • Filling
  • 500g 1% cottage cheese
  • 250g 0% Greek yogurt
  • 2 whole eggs
  • ½ cup egg whites (or 4 egg whites)
  • ¼ cup liquid honey
  • The zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Apple / Pecan layer
  • 6 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 100g pecans, roughly chopped
  • Honey Caramel
  • 1/3 cup liquid honey
  • 1 cup 2% evaporated milk

INSTRUCTIONS

    For the crust
  1. Add all the ingredients to food processor and process until well combined.
  2. Transfer to a non-stick spring form pan and press to the bottom and sides (all the way to the top) of the pan to form a crust.
  3. Set aside
  4. For the filling and apple / pecan layer and honey caramel
  5. Preheat oven to 375F
  6. Add all the ingredients to the bowl of your food processor and process until smooth and creamy, about one minute.
  7. Transfer to the reserved pie crust.
  8. Bake in 350F oven for 40-45 minutes, until filling is somewhat set.
  9. While cake is baking, cook sliced apple in a skillet over medium heat, until they start to soften up, about 3-5 minutes. Add cinnamon, mix to coat and set aside.
  10. Make honey caramel (see instructions below)
  11. After the cake has baked for 40-45 minutes, take it out of the oven, spoon cooked apples overtop, sprinkle pecans and pour caramel all over the apples.
  12. Put cake back in the oven and cook for an additional 20-25 minutes.
  13. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly. Allow cake to cool for a couple of hours, then take it out of the oven and let it cool completely before transferring it to the refrigerator, where you will leave it to cool for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  14. Drizzle with a little bit of honey when serving.
  15. For the honey caramel
  16. In a heavy saucepan, over medium heat, bring the evaporated milk up to a simmer.
  17. In a second saucepan (choose one that is large enough to accomodate at least 8 cups of liquid, bring honey to a boil over high heat.
  18. Without stirring, allow honey to boil until it takes a nice dark caramel colour, about 3-4 minutes. Monitor it closely until it reaches the desired color. Don't let it go too dark however, as you don't want it to burn.
  19. When honey has reached the desired colour, remove from heat and pour in the evaporated milk A LITTLE AT A TIME, while constantly stirring with a long handled wooden spoon (the steam will be VERY hot!). Be very careful here as this mixture will bubble heavily and might boil over if you go at it too quickly.
  20. Once all the milk has been added and completely incorporated, give the caramel another quick boil, then turn off the heat and set aside until ready to use.
http://thehealthyfoodie.com/healthy-apple-pecan-cheesecake/

Healthy Apple Pecan and Honey Caramel Cheesecake | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Healthy Apple Pecan and Honey Caramel Cheesecake | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Healthy Apple Pecan and Honey Caramel Cheesecake | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

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Comments

  1. says

    Hm, I wonder if the person who wrote that comment would every wonder that the creator of that recipe would ever read their comment. I do agree that healthy eating is what is closest to nature’s food. If you say something is low carb or low sugar, it isn’t necessarily healthy; go look at the grocery store aisles and their ingredient lists.
    But, this cheesecake looks divine. This is definitely Thanksgiving worthy (the only holidays my family celebrates is Thanksgiving & Christmas, and sometimes birthdays) plus since it has apples, my aunt won’t feel as guilty eating it, even though she shouldn’t since it’s already healthy-ish :]

    • says

      Thanks Kathy! Thanksgiving worthy, that’s quite the compliment! If you end up making it, tell your aunt that she won’t have to feel guilty in the least when eating that cake. It’s filled with nothing but wholesome ingredients… Well, except maybe for the evaporated milk… but I’m working on that! Hey, it’s still better than full fat whipping cream, isn’t it? ;) Thanks again for your great support and feedback!

  2. says

    I completely agree with your philosophy! It bothers me so much when people go to the store and buy “low fat” and “reduced calorie” stuff thinking that they’re making the “healthy” choice and then dismiss everything in the produce isle. Really? Unprocessed food, as it comes from nature is as healthy as it gets, in my opinion. Plus, I find desserts that are in a less processed form that are possibly higher in calories are more satisfying than if I try to make it low fat or low calorie and I’m happier with a smaller piece. I’m sorry you got a nasty comment like that, but in all honesty I feel sorry for that person. The low calorie diet-food obsession is awful and never gets people anywhere for very long, at least from what I’ve seen. Please keep it up, I love being inspired by your treats :D

    • says

      Thank you so much Heidi. That sure makes me feel better. I totally agree, I’d much rather have a smaller piece of healthy dessert than a larger piece of “reduced calorie” stuff that’s loaded with all sorts of nasty additives and ingredients whose names one can’t even pronounce…

      Glad to hear my recipes inspire you! :)

  3. Amanda says

    Hi Sonia,
    I discovered your blog last week and immediately made your healthy pumpkin pie. It was out of this world!! I’m a recently diagnosed diabetic and was always a healthy eater and very active my whole life so the diagnosis came as quite a shock. I’ve had to drastically change my diet and cut out all refined sugar and most carbs. I was SO thrilled when I tested my blood sugar after eating a slice of the pie and seeing that my sugar stayed nice and steady. It is such a relief to know that I can make delicious and satisfying desserts. I love to bake and always had a sweet tooth. Thank you so much for creating and sharing your wonderful recipes!

    • says

      Oh Amanda, that is music to my ears. Thank you so much for letting me know, you have no idea just how good that makes me feel. Now you’ve just given me one more reason to keep coming up with new recipes for healthy “treats”. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

      Glad you liked the pie, btw! :D

  4. Emily says

    Hi, I’m wondering if the texture of the cheesecake would be solid enough to stand alone without the crust? Perhaps it would take doubling the cheeecake layer? (Not that your crust doesn’t look amazing, just curious for the crustess folk out there like me!)

    • says

      I would think so, it’s quite firm! I don’t think that you would need to double it up either, you’d only end up with a cake that’s not quite as high. My only concern might be leakage, though. You might want to line your spring form pan, just in case!

  5. says

    I also received a comment like that recently and although my desserts aren’t nearly as healthy as yours, it really bothered me. Some people are just really rude and ignorant. I agree with your view of what healthy eating is. I try to always use 100% whole grains and good fats, but the sugar is still a problem when I don’t want whatever I’m making to taste honey-ish and I end up using unrefined sugar (which I don’t think is all that better than white refined sugar). I don’t care about calories and fat as long as it’s whole grain and made with good fat.

    This cheesecake is gorgeous! I’m still looking for proper cottage cheese, but when I do, this and the pumpkin pie will come off of my to-do list. :) And honey caramel! That’s brilliant. Does it actually taste like caramel? Or more like caramel?

    I say ignore the idiots and be super proud. You recipes and pictures are amazing and deserve nothing but praise.

    • says

      Awwww, thanks a bunch Erin. How super nice of you to say! It’s really making me feel better.

      I take it you meant to ask whether the caramel tasted like caramel or more like honey… the truth is, it’s a cross between both, but I find it sort of got lost in the cooking process, so that’s why I’m already thinking of a new and improved version. I want to be able to taste that caramel. And I need to make it more decadent. Not that it isn’t already, though. ;)

      I really hope you get your hand on cottage cheese real soon! :D

      • says

        Yes, I meant to say honey. You could tell I was excited about the caramel. :)

        I came back to say that this post has already had a direct effect. Yesterday I made whole grain pie crust, and instead of using all whole wheat flour, I replaced 1/3 of it with ground almonds (because of your variety point). And in the filling, I reaaally wanted to use some unrefined sugar, but I thought of this post and only used maple syrup. I know unrefined sugar isn’t actually healthier but it works so well. It’s so hard to give up! And I was so excited to make your caramel to pour on top, but then I was really bummed to not find any evaporated milk. It’s now on my list!

  6. says

    Sonia I’m so glad that you didn’t let that negative and clearly ignorant comment keep you down! You ARE inspiring to me and a lot of other people as the comments clearly show! If eating “healthy” means what that person claimed there would be a lot of skinny but unhappy and probably unhealthy people walking around. Wholesome ingredients as close to nature as possible is what eating healthy means to me (though admittedly I am a lover of bacon and other delicious but unhealthy things on occasion!!) I think the narrow minded low fat low carb low taste approach to “healthy” eating that many people take actual yields the opposite of health especially in all the so called “healthy” NON-foods that they are selling in the supermarkets these days that are essentially poisoning our country and our kids. If you look at what the people in other countries eat it is foods close to nature and they aren’t counting calories or skimping on flavor or avoiding desserts–and they are some of the healthiest people in the world! Keep doing what you’re doing because the rest of us love it and if you stopped we’d all be worse off! Can’t wait to see more of your hundreds of millions of beautiful and truly healthy dessert ideas! ;)

    • says

      Amen to that Mellissa. How very well said. And you know what, even the most avid clean eaters out there still need to let loose once in a while and enjoy one of their non healthy of non clean treats. For you it’s bacon, for me, well, for me it’s anything sweet, really ;) I have very intense sweet tooth… can you tell? And thank you so much for your kind words. I am flushed, really. :D Thanks a bunch!

  7. A Kumar says

    My kids are allergic to eggs. Is there a way to make filling of Healthy Apple, Pecan and Honey Caramel Cheesecake without eggs? If so, how do I do that?

    • says

      Hmmm… not sure, really. I have never experimented with that. I know you can make “flax eggs” using flaxmeal and water, but I’m not certain whether they would work great with cheesecake. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help with that one! :(

  8. says

    This looks wonderful! Love all the apples.

    I think you have a good attitude toward healthy food. While some may be looking to cut calories/lose weight, that’s not true of everyone and it’s not the sole benchmark for whether a food is healthy or not! And even if you are trying to lose weight, there is absolutely room for desserts in that plan (as I know from experience! You can do it, you just have to account for it along with your other food choices when counting calories.) Anyway, healthy eating may mean a slightly different thing to each person — if your blog isn’t what this person is looking for, they should go somewhere else rather than criticizing!

  9. says

    I agree with the above comments, your view of health is right on! Keep on sending out these fabulous and healthy recipes. They have more nutrients then the average person probably eats for a meal. Keep up the good work!

  10. says

    “…the least processed the better. It’s also about switching to complex carbs, whole grains, good fats and choosing sugars that come from natural sources.”

    I couldn’t agree with you more. But I think it takes time for people to realize that it’s not all about the raw numbers, i.e. how many calories, grams of fat etc. I say, skip processed food and cooking with high-quality, fresh ingredients goes a long way.

    Great post and beautiful photos!

    • says

      Awww, thanks Michelle! However, I think I would hate working as a chef. I like to create and I like to take my time doing that. I could never cook under pressure. I’d have to be a private chef, if I were one… AND I’d have to have full liberty as to went on the menu. Not sure my “boss” would like that ;)

  11. says

    Obviously cutting out all sorts of sweet treats and eating only three meals a day with no cake or dessert or whatever is probably likely to make you thinner than not doing so. But where would the fun be in life if you did that? I’m totally with you – creating healthy desserts is one of my favourite things too. I think perhaps the key is to call them ‘RELATIVELY healthy desserts’! If you’re craving a piece of cake, and absolutely MUST have some, and it’s a choice between a fat-laden, over-processed variety or a home baked healthier version, obviously the latter is going to do you more favours.

    Keep up the good work, I’m excited to see what recipes you share next. I love the look of this cheesecake – such an interesting mix of layers and flavours!

  12. says

    Sonia, this looks AMAZING. Really, when are you going to open up a bakery? It’s such a pretty and delicious looking cake!

    I was just thinking about the issue “healthy” dessert. Last weekend I was at a party where my boyfriend was talking about my healthy dessert, and someone responded that what he was describing didn’t sound healthy. I wasn’t too pleased! I think we all have our own definitions. So many things we see in stores with lots of health claims are far from the truth! In my own searches for healthy recipes, I often see a ton of butter, and a combo of white and whole wheat flour. I don’t think that’s healthy, I think that’s a small modification. But your stuff? It’s pretty great!

    To me, healthy means having food be balanced. Foods that aren’t purely carbs, and have some protein and healthy fats built in. These things help us fill up, rather than crave more. Your recipe is doing great with the greek yogurt and cottage cheese in there…and I’m sure that stuff is amazing for the texture. I want a slice!

    • says

      “So many things we see in stores with lots of health claims are far from the truth! In my own searches for healthy recipes, I often see a ton of butter, and a combo of white and whole wheat flour.”

      Not to mention brown sugar!!! So many people think that brown sugar is a healhier form of sugar. This could not be further from the truth.

      You see, personally, it’s the concept of “dessert” in itself that I have a hard time with. It’s the idea of eating more food after you’ve already had a satisfying meal. I have to admit that I very rarely have dessert and will consume those “treats” that I make as a snack or even as a light meal.

      Also, I think if I was to take a picture of the ingredients alone, before they even start to look like a dessert, people’s perception might be very different. Sometimes, it’s hard to conceive, when looking at a piece of cake, that said piece of cake CAN be good for you, because we tend to associate this picture with nothing but fat and sugar, and it’s really hard to readjust our vision of something that is so deeply incrusted in our minds.

      And you are so right about the balance thing. I’m all for protein and healthy fats! I guess that’s why we both love Greek yogurt so much! :)

  13. says

    We are totally on the same page with food philosophy! About 7 years ago I used to think food was healthy if it was low fat (mentality from my dad’s cardiologist ugh) but ive completely changed my thinking and whole, natural foods are the way to go (for me at least)!!!!
    What a fabulous cheesecake- you are rockin’ these recipes girlfriend and I’m LOVING all your thoughtful posts, recipes and photos! Just another recipe on my “Sonias must try list”
    Don’t let that jerk get you down- that’s sooo frustrating! The same thoughts wouldhave crossed my m ind too (again, we r so much alike!) but PLEASE don’t let him/her get to you – you are wonderful, creative, and have a fabulous knack for healthy desserts and good-for-you recipes, keep ‘em coming!!!! Hugs to you!

    • says

      Awww, thank you so much Nora.Talk about making me feel better! And don’t you worry, I shall keep them coming. I only wish I could make eat more than one per week, I have soooo many ideas. At that rate, it will take me years to try them all. Maybe I oughta start selling my “tests” for the cost of the ingredients… ;) At least that way, I wouldn’t have to eat them all!

      • says

        My waist line is the same. I wish it would cooperate a little more. I think it’s not really understanding what it is that I’m trying to do here… Maybe I should open a bistro and call it “The Recipe Tester”, or something like that. Not sure it would attract crowds, though… ;)

  14. says

    I think it’s important to recognize that there are many definitions of “healthy” because people have different needs. Good for you for embracing yours and coming up with a delicious looking recipe to satisfy them! Stick to what you believe in and eventually you will find more and more people whose preferences are aligned with yours :)

  15. says

    true that sister.

    it drives me crazy listening to people rant about “healthy” foods that are all modified to shit. THAT. ISNT. HEALTHY. If there’s shit I can’t even pronounce – it’s not food!

    Healthy = whole, real, happy ingredients.

    Again, true. that. sister.

  16. says

    Wow, I love this cake and the ingredient list, superb……Next time I try cheesecake I will try wheat germ with the oil, apple sauce and honey rather than using butter :-) Lots better for you. Bookmarking this!

  17. Christina A. says

    I LOVE your point of view on what is healthy. I always go back to the days of great grandparents eating lard and liver without any guilt and minimum health issues. I yearn to go back to that way of thinking and find your blog helpful in how to get there.

  18. says

    Just the other day when I was looking through my recipes-to-try list, I asked myself, “Why haven’t I made THIS yet?!?”

    I’m going to try and make this sometime next week, but I was wondering, since I’m going to need 6 apples what kind I should buy. What kind did you use?

    Thanks!
    -Jess

    PS: I applaud you for not giving up because of that person’s harsh comment. Sometimes people feel the need to say hurtful things and don’t think about how it can really affect others. I have gotten a couple like that too :/
    I believe you have the right philosophy when it comes to health, though. I mean, clearly, pie can be healthy because you just made one right here!! :)

    • says

      Thank you so much Jess, that is very nice of you to say. :)

      Now I have to admit that I am a little bit nervous about you, of all people, giving that recipe a try. I mean, you have created so many awesome, incredible, decadent looking desserts… this one better deliver! As far as the apples go, I’ve used mixed cooking apples that I had bought at the orchard, so I had a few that held their shape after cooking and some that became mush. If I was going to redo this one, I would definitely use either Cortland or Golden Delicious. They are my favorite apples to cook with, as they are deliciously sweet and hold their shape even after cooking for a while.

      Crossing my fingers so hard that this cake works for you… and can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

  19. Bridget says

    This looks really great, Sonia! I was born with an entire mouthful of sweet teeth and I’m always consciously looking out for a nutritious way to get a bit of sugar that won’t bore the socks off of me! Recently I’ve been trying to sweeten desserts without sugar – the honey content here is great with all of the spices and the apples. When it comes to baked cheesecakes I find that honey actually works quite well, it sort of binds the mixture together a bit better or something – what do you think? Also the crust was fantastic, a really flavoursome and natural alternative to the heavy/oversweetened graham cracker crust that is somehow the standard for every other cheesecake, and it looked better too! I made it with red delicious apples but I’m keen to try it with a combination of apples and some firm pears – I’d love your opinion! Thankyou so much for the recipe, it was a great success!
    -Bridget

    • says

      Wow, thank you so much for this awesome feedback, Bridget. So happy the cake worked out for you! You just inspired me to redo that one too, using much less sugar this time, if any at all! I’m now a big fan of using date paste instead of honey (have you seen my latest cheesecake recipe?) and it has proven to work really really well with cheesecakes and it also makes great caramel. I think I could make this cake even better while making it even lower in sugar. Oh, and I LOVE the idea of using pears. I think they would work great! Wow, you really inspired me to give this one another go… thank you so much for that, and again, for the awesome feedback. Let me know how the pears turned out if you try them before I do! :)

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