HEAT oven to 350°F.
COMBINE cookie crumbs, nuts and butter; press onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan.
BEAT cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each just until blended. Remove 1 cup plain batter. Stir remaining sugar, pumpkin and spices into remaining batter.
SPOON half the pumpkin batter into crust; top with spoonfuls of half the plain batter. Repeat layers; swirl with knife.
BAKE 45 min. or until centre is almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 4 hours.
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
5 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into a few pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 large Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored and sliced as thinly as you can into similar-shaped slices (if they’re too thick, they’ll be more noticeable in the finished cake, rather than soft and caramelized)
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.
Combine the sugar, flour and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitting with a steel blade attachment (did I tell you I got a food processor for my birthday?? I LOVE IT SO MUCH). Pulse to mix, then add the butter, and pulse until no large lumps remain. Add the vanilla and the egg, and blend well—mine looked a little like cookie dough, but the original recipe likens it to cornmeal, so I’d imagine either is fine. Plop this mixture into the prepared springform pan and spread it evenly around the bottom. Try to form the edges to curve up a little on the sides, like the rim of a very low pie crust.
Starting from the outsides (this is the only way that works for me, and yes, I’ve tried starting from the insides), arrange the apples in a tight, circular pattern. You will feel like there are way too many apples to fit, you really will, but just fit them in there as tightly as you can. It will work.
Slide the pan into the oven, and bake for 45 minutes. While the cake bakes, you can make the topping: Combine the ingredients in a small bowl, and whisk to blend well. Then set it aside.
After the cake has baked for 45 minutes, remove it from the oven and spoon the topping evenly over it. Bake for another 30 minutes or so, until the topping looks set. Transfer the pan to a wire rack, and cool for 20 minutes. Then run a thin knife around the edge to release any areas that may have stuck, and remove the sides of the pan. Feel free to swoon at how beautiful it looks—I sure did. Cool completely before serving.
Note: This cake is a perfect make-ahead recipe, which is what I did Friday night, planning for dinner with a friend Saturday. Just wrap it up tightly in plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature until you’re ready to eat it. Oh, and, by the way, it was wonderful with vanilla ice cream on top.
Yield: One cake, about 8 servings