Sunday, May 24, 2015

Caramel Cinnamon-Apple Cheesecake + a Smart & Final Grand Opening

This recipe for Caramel Cinnamon-Apple Cheesecake has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ChooseSmart #CollectiveBias

This past week I visited the grand opening of a new Smart & Final store in Sacramento, CA. It was so much fun to attend; the customers were in high spirits over a new store opening in their area and there were a ton of great deals to be had! While I was there I became inspired to make an awesomely delicious Caramel Cinnamon-Apple Cheesecake. From the fresh apples in their produce section to the huge selection of baking ingredients, Smart & Final had everything I needed for this tasty beauty to happen. So, in essence, this is a celebratory cheesecake - in honor of a new warehouse store. Not that I need a reason to enjoy an insanely good cheesecake recipe... I just think it makes it taste better.

I'm going to get to that Caramel Cinnamon-Apple Cheesecake - but first, let me tell you about this new Smart & Final in the Sacramento region. The store is located at 3315 Northgate Boulevard in Sacramento, CA {95834}, just about 4 miles off I-80. This location is a Smart & Final Extra! store, which means they combine the high quality fresh produce of a farmer's market, the low prices of a discount grocer and the large club size products of a traditional club store. Whether you're stocking up your pantry, preparing for a party or shopping for your business - this store will have just what you need!

When I first walked in the store, the first thing that caught my eye was the Bulk Foods section. This is the stuff I live for folks - and I had no idea that Smart & Final offered one! My local grocery store has a bulk section and it's something I've come to know and love. It's great being able to buy as much or little as you want! Sometimes you just want a taste and other times you need to bake 10 dozen assorted cookies, either way the bulk section can save the day!

There were also coffee beans with grinders for fresh ground coffee. I love coffee just as much as I love chocolate and I know that brewing with fresh grounds makes a world of difference! As a coffee-lover, I thought the coffee beans made the section of the store smell fantastic. Making fresh-ground coffee in the store is a breeze, if you haven't tried it before - give it a try!!

Just as their other stores, this new Smart & Final location carries a complete selection of packaging & disposable products. From food wrap and disposable food containers to paper bags and foam cups - this is the place to shop if you're in foodservice or just looking to throw an amazing party! They also have an extensive line of restaurant/kitchen equipment, from food prep to chafing dishes - so many items that have saved me countless times in a last-minute frenzy. {Without the daunting task of visiting a big warehouse store!} 

One of the reasons I first started going to Smart & Final {years ago...} was their meat selection - I was in need of a large, primal cut of beef and was able to find what I was looking for at my local store. In addition to their primal cuts, they also carry sub-primal cuts of their beef and pork - alongside a variety of chicken and seafood options. I was super impressed with the new store's seafood selection, very fresh and great selection. I almost grabbed a package of cooked crayfish to try out, but since I wasn't going straight home I opted not to. {There's always next time!}

In addition to the wine, spirits and domestic beer choices available at the new Smart & Final, there was also this large section of craft beers. I'll admit it, I am a craft beer junky and this collection had me super excited. If you love beer, you'll most likely be able to find something in this crowd of brews to enjoy!

I was blown away by the cleanliness and organization of the produce section. There were both conventional and organic choices, along with bulk raw produce and pre-packaged selections. So many choices of beautiful harvested crops at some of the best prices in town!

I don't use frozen foods that often, but when the need arises I like browsing Smart & Final's fully stocked shelves - which this new store has a ton of. They have an extensive selection of national brands as well as their own signature line. Everything from appetizers, breakfast and breads to vegetables, traditional cakes and more - their selection is awesome!

As I promised, back to the Caramel Cinnamon-Apple Cheesecake! I was able to find all of the ingredients I needed for this recipe at Smart & Final. A lot of products at Smart & Final are available in the national brand of one of their own signature brands. First Street is a Smart & Final brand that includes a wide variety of products - baking being one of my favorite. This signature line from Smart & Final always delivers a quality product that I have grown to depend on!

The Caramel Cinnamon-Apple Cheesecake is truly delicious, it's like a big ol' flavor party right in your mouth. From the caramel-soaked cinnamon graham cracker crust and the caramel-drizzled toasted walnuts on top to the cinnamon-apple cheesecake filling in the middle - this cheesecake will have your guests {well, you don't have to share if you don't want to...} asking for seconds. All of the flavors in this dessert mesh perfectly together, making this recipe one for the books!

Caramel Cinnamon-Apple Cheesecake
yields one 9” cheesecake
24 cinnamon graham cracker squares
½ cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
15 vanilla caramel squares, melted
Cinnamon Apple Cheesecake Filling
2 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¾ cup apple pie filling {I use this recipe}
Caramel Topping
½ cup walnut pieces
25 vanilla caramel squares, melted
1. Heat oven to 350. Grease a 9” springform pan. In a food processor, process graham crackers, butter, sugar and cinnamon until a crumbly mixture is formed. It may be necessary to scrape down sides a couple times during processing. Dump mixture into springform pan and press into bottom and about 1” up sides, using fingertips. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until crust starts to turn golden brown. While crust is in oven, melt caramels. {I use this easy microwave technique!} After crust is removed from oven, pour the melted caramels into bottom of pie crust to completely coat. Set aside.
2. Heat oven to 325. In stand mixer, beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, until mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla extract, cinnamon and apple pie filling. Pour cheesecake filling into crust and spread evenly with a spatula. Place springform pan on baking sheet and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until top is starting to golden and inserted toothpick is clean when removed. Let cool on rack
3. Heat oven to 450. Spread walnuts on baking sheet, or pie tin. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
While walnuts are toasting, melt remaining caramels. Drizzle cheesecake with half of caramel, topping with walnuts, then remaining caramel. Let cool completely before serving, overnight in a fridge works perfectly! Enjoy!!


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