Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Eggnog Cheesecake with Chai Spiced Whipped Cream


Eggnog Cheesecake with Chai Spiced Whipped Cream

2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs 
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tsp nutmeg
8 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease with butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch cheesecake pan. Line with parchment paper. 

In a medium bowl, combine the crust ingredients. Press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the cheesecake pan with a glass measuring cup. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Eggnog Cheesecake
Four 8-ounce packages full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons flour
3 large eggs, plus one egg yolk, room temperature
3/4 cup full fat eggnog, I used Southern Comfort Vanilla Spice eggnog *see note
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp rum extract (optional but yes it compliments the eggnog) 

*Southern Comfort Vanilla Spice eggnog is one of the highest rated eggnogs, and I can taste why! It's like melted vanilla ice cream, and it's a very thick consistency which is good for cheesecake. While I haven't tried it, I read the Southern Comfort "traditional" flavor is not very good so just be sure to use one you like to drink! 

Arrange the two racks inside the oven so that one is at the very bottom and one is in the middle. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and coat the inside of a 9″ springform pan with nonstick spray or grease with butter.

Cover the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper and set aside. The cheesecake shrinks so this will help prevent cracks as it cools and separates from the pan. 

In a bowl using a hand or stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the cream cheese and sugar and mix on low speed until smooth and combined. Scrape down the bowl and mix again on low speed to catch any bits at the bottom.

Next, use electric kettle or fill a medium-sized pot with about 4 cups of water and place it over high heat. It should reach a boil by the time the batter is done. Also place a large roast pan on the bottom rack of the oven.

Back to the cheesecake – add the flour and nutmeg and mix on low speed until combined.

Mix in the eggs, one at a time, on low speed. Scrape down the bowl after the first two eggs, and again after the last egg and egg yolk.

Last, measure the eggnog and heavy cream in a measuring cup, mix in the rum extract and stir to combine. Then add this mixture to the cheesecake batter until combined. 

Scrape down the sides and bottom to ensure all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.

Pour the batter into the crust and spread it smooth. It should completely cover the crust.

Now with the boiling water, open the oven door and pull out the bottom rack just enough for you to access the roast pan. Carefully pour the water into the roast pan and push the rack pack in. Quickly place the cheesecake on the middle rack, directly above the roast pan, and close the oven door. This will trap the steam and create a humid baking environment for the cheesecake – preventing it from drying out and cracking.

Bake for 90 minutes. The top of the cake should be golden brown and the center should only be very slightly jiggly. It should be firmer than jello. If its not done yet, lower oven temperature to 300 degrees F and bake for another 10 minutes. I did this and the center came out cooked perfectly. 

When it’s done, turn the oven off and crack open the oven door. Let the cheesecake remain inside the oven for 30 minutes to an 1 hour, until the heat inside the oven is gradually gone.

Remove from oven and allow cheesecake to cool at room temperature for an hour. Then transfer to the refrigerator and let it chill uncovered for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight. Cover with plastic wrap after its cooled overnight. 

Chai Spiced Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon rum extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)

Chill the bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for five to ten minutes. Place all the ingredients in the chilled bowl of a stand mixer and beat with whisk attachment on high until stiff peaks form. Pipe on top of cheesecake with a star tip. 

Monday, December 6, 2021

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies


White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from: Sally's Baking Addiction Yield: 26 cookies, using large ice cream scooper

1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon molasses
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned into measuring cup & leveled)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups old-fashioned whole rolled oats (not quick or instant)
1 1/2 cups dried cherries or dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

optional for drizzle: one 4-ounce quality white chocolate bar, finely chopped or you could use 3 tablespoons white chocolate chips and a teaspoon of shortening*

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Then use the original bowl for the stand mixer to allow butter to soften in. 

Using the paddle attachment, cream the softened butter and both sugars together on medium speed until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs and mix on high until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and molasses and mix on high until combined. Set aside.

Add the flour/spice mixture and mix on low until combined. Beat in the oats, dried fruit, and white chocolate chips on low speed. Dough will be thick, yet very sticky. Chill the dough for 60 minutes in the refrigerator and then use a large ice cream scooper to form balls of dough. If chilling for longer (up to 2 days), allow dough to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before scooping and baking.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

Place 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. If the balls of dough have been thoroughly chilled in the fridge, bake for about 16-17 minutes until lightly browned on the sides. The centers will look very soft and under-baked. You will only need to bake about 12-14 minutes if the dough was chilling for about an hour or less. 

Remove from the oven and let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies will continue to “set” on the baking sheet during this time.

Optional White Chocolate Drizzle: You can melt the white chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave. If using the microwave: place the chopped white chocolate or chocolate chips with the shortening in a heat-proof bowl. Melt in 20 second increments in the microwave, stirring after each increment until completely melted and smooth. Drizzle lightly over cookies. Allow the white chocolate to set completely at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Cover and store leftover cookies (with white chocolate drizzle or without) at room temperature for up to 1 week.

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