Apple Pie Cheesecake Braid

I truly had forgotten how much I enjoy being in the kitchen.  My new house doesn't have central air (which is a LOT more difficult to deal with then originally thought!), so cooking this summer was just simply out of the question.  Then, starting the new school year at work has been one of the busiest yet!  The upcoming week is going to be seriously crazy, so I am so thankful for this relaxing weekend that I had to cook up some new fall recipes and share them.  This apple pie cheesecake braid is super easy, but really perfect for this season -- especially if you're not #basic and are looking for a dessert sans pumpkin!  Also, if you possess a lot more finesse than I do when it comes to desserts, your braid will be so much prettier ;-)

What You'll Need:
  • 6 gala apples, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons prepared caramel
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 cup butterscotch chips (optional)
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped (optional) 
  • 2 Pilsbury classic pizza crusts

1.  In a large mixing bowl, combine apples, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, caramel, half the vanilla extract, salt, and lemon juice. Stir well to combine until apples are well coated.  Set aside.

2.  In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, cream cheese, confectioner's sugar, and the rest of the vanilla.  Using a hand mixer, mix ingredients until smooth.  For a fun twist, fold in butterscotch chips and pecans - or one or the other to your liking - these ingredients won't change much.

3.  Roll out your pizza dough onto a flat surface, covered with a floured sheet of foil or parchment paper.  You can't just put it on your counter, because it will be too difficult to move to a baking sheet.  Using a paring knife or pizza cutter, slice horizontal lines about 2 inches in on each side of the pizza dough, leaving a 4-inch space in the middle.  Repeat with the second crust.

4.  Down the middle of the dough, spread cream cheese mixture evenly over both crusts.  Do the same with the apples, reserving the delicious leftover caramel liquid.  Starting at the top, fold the top of the dough over, and grab one slit from one side and cross over to the other.  Alternate, grabbing another slit from the other side, and cross over the original.  Repeat over and over until you get to the bottom, where you can fold the bottom portion of the crust up, and then cover with the last two slits.

5.  Drizzle remaining liquid from apples over the top of each braid.  Sprinkle with white sugar and extra cinnamon.  Bake in a 375-degree until the pizza crust is cooked through, and golden brown.  When you remove from the oven, let braid rest for at least 10 minutes so the insides don't come running out when you cut into it. 

Enjoy with vanilla ice cream, extra caramel, chocolate sauce -- hell, you can throw some bourbon on there!  That's a recipe for another day...


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