Sunday, March 31, 2013

Welcome Guest Joelle Charbonneau

Please join me in welcoming Joelle Charbonneau to the kitchen.  If you've ever had the pleasure of meeting Joelle, you know she's every bit as delightful as her books.  Speaking of which, End Me a Tenor (the 2nd Glee Club Mystery) will be out this Tuesday ... yep, in just two days!  So treat yourself to this Apple Cinnamon Cheesecake and a great mystery by Joelle ...

Apple Cinnamon Cheesecake

I admit that I’m not always a fan of dessert.  I think I’m the only author that doesn’t use chocolate for moments of anxiety or celebration.  (Eeek! I probably shouldn’t have admitted that.  They’re going to throw me out of the club now.)  If a dessert has heaps of frosting or large quantities of cake involved, I have no problem turning it down.  (Yep…I’m getting tossed out on my butt.)  Perhaps it isn’t surprising that my heroine from End Me A Tenor, Paige Marshall, isn’t a huge dessert eater either.  Salty snacks, well that’s another story.

However, that being said, there are some desserts that I absolutely love.  My grandfather (aka Pater) was the baker in the family while I was growing up.  He had a spare oven in his basement and was known to bake dozens of pies or cakes in one day.  He even made homemade jelly from the grapes that grew in his backyard.  Pretty awesome grandpa, right?  One of the desserts he made that everyone in my family loved (including me and especially my father) was cheesecake.  It was an old fashioned recipe with a slightly sweetened sour cream layer that gave the dessert just the perfect amount of tang. 

I still make that cheesecake and think of him every time I do, but as any good third generation baker does – I’ve branched out and made new and different versions of cheesecake.  Trust me when I say Pater would have approved.  In fact, he would’ve been the first at the table ready to taste the results of my efforts.  Over the years, I’ve made a lot of different cheesecakes.  But one has stood out as my absolute favorite…perhaps because it also includes two of my other favorite things: apples and cinnamon.  Pater would have loved it.  My mom, another non-dessert eater, does.   I hope you do, too.

Apple Cinnamon Cheesecake

1 cup crushed graham crackers
3-4 TB butter
3 TB sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Cheese mixture:
2 packes of cream cheese - softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

4 large granny smith apples sliced thin
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup halved pecans

Preheat oven to 350

Mix graham crackers, melted butter, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Press mixture into a 9" spring pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

Mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together. Add eggs one at a time - beat until creamy. Pour mixture on top of crust.
Toss apples, sugar and cinnamon together. Place on top of cheese mixture. Sprinkle pecans on top.

Bake for 70 minutes. Remove from oven and use a knife around the edge. Wait for the cake to cool before releasing the spring pan. Chill before serving. Enjoy!

How about you?  Do you have a special dessert that makes you think of a special family member?  What dessert tastes just a little better because it’s sprinkled with memories?


Joelle Charbonneau has performed in opera and musical theatre productions across Chicagoland.  She now teaches private voice lessons and uses her stage experience to create compelling characters in her books.  She is the author of two mystery series:  The Rebecca Robbins mysteries (Minotaur Books) and the Glee Club mysteries (Berkley).  Joelle’s also the author of The Testing young adult trilogy that debuts with THE TESTING (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s) June 4th.  Learn more at


  1. Lovely story, and one can never have too many cheesecake recipes--and one with apples! But it's not fair to subject me to temptation so early in the day!

  2. Sheila, I promise this recipe is totally worth the temptation. Thanks for letting me play here today!

  3. Joelle - This recipe really does look fantastic. I have an apple peeler/corer/slicer that I use for apple pie ... now it has another use!! Thank you for being our guest.

  4. Welcome Joelle! So funny to have a baker grandfather and not love desserts! Are you bringing Lipton onion dip and potato chips to the club? In that case, you can definitely stay...

    I used to be less of a dessert eater, but that's sacreligious (sp?) in my hub's family so I've piled on. I can usually resist ice cream and baked goods that aren't homemade....but a homemade cake? Count me in!

  5. Now I know I'm not alone! I'm not a big sweet eater either--I'd rather something salty or crunchy. But this does look delicious! My husband LOVES dessert so I will have to make this for him.

  6. Welcome, Joelle. What lovely memories of your grandfather. This sounds like a wonderful treat. I bet you're right -- he would approve.


  7. Hi, Joelle! Happy Easter (late in the day). I know there are camps re: sugar and salt. Some people are in the sweet and some in the salty. I happen to like both. Lucky me! Love the tale of your grandfather and the cheesecake, one of my all-time favorite desserts. I will definitely try this.

    Congrats on the release of your new book this week. Whee! Clearing my vocal chords and ready to sing: Tra-la.

    Daryl / Avery