1 (6-ounce) package dried apricot halves
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons apricot-flavored brandy or orange juice
2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup apricot preserves
1 apricot rose, if desired (see TIP)
Place apricots halves and water in 2-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat 30-40 minutes or until very soft and water has evaporated. Remove from heat; stir in brandy. Cool completely.
Place apricot mixture in food processor bowl fitted with metal blade or 5-cup blender container. Cover; process 1-2 minutes or until mixture is smooth. Set aside.
Heat oven to 325°F.
Combine all crust ingredients in bowl. Press onto bottom of ungreased 9-inch springform pan.
Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar and cream cheese in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla; continue beating until well mixed. Spoon 2 cups filling onto crust. Stir apricot puree into remaining filling; spoon on top of filling in pan.
Bake 60-70 minutes or until set. Loosen sides of cheesecake from pan by running knife around inside of pan. Cool completely.
Combine sour cream and 2 tablespoons sugar in bowl. Spread over cheesecake. Press apricot preserves through strainer; drizzle over cheesecake. Refrigerate at least 3 hours. Garnish with apricot rose, if desired. Store refrigerated.
To make an apricot rose, place four dried apricot halves on waxed paper. Generously dust both sides with sugar. Cover with second sheet of waxed paper. Roll out apricots until flat and thin with rolling pin. Use fingers to shape or roll smallest apricot half, at an angle, to form center of rose. Gently wrap remaining halves, one at a time, around center to form petals. Secure with toothpick.