Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Gingerbread Cheesecake

I hope you had a very merry Christmas!  The hubby and I spent last weekend visiting my family and returned home in time to spend Christmas Eve and day with his family in town.

We traditionally get together with my husband's family on Christmas Eve to enjoy dinner and to exchange presents among the "kids."  Then we have a more casual day on Christmas with breakfast, more gift exchanging and whatnot.

Lately I've been kind of in a cheesecake baking mood (I made a Maple Cheesecake for Thanksgiving and a Pumpkin Cheesecake soon after for a "Friendsgiving"), so I figured a Gingerbread Cheesecake would be the perfect dessert for Christmas Eve dinner with the hubby's family.  I had this Martha Stewart recipe in the back of my mind to try for a couple of years and was glad I finally did because it was both an adorable and delicious addition to dinner.

This cheesecake takes a little more effort than most, but the result is well worth the time put in.  The crust is make from a slab of baked, cooled, then crumbled homemade gingerbread and the finished cheesecake is topped with little homemade gingerbread men.

The original recipe suggests topping the cheesecake with six gingerbread men, but I thought that suggestion, while cute, was a little impractical (the gingerbread men would have to be removed prior to slicing/serving the cheesecake).  Instead I decided to make my gingerbread men on the miniature size, perfect to top each of twelve individual slices.

Of course, if you're in a hurry, you could always substitute a crust made of store bought gingersnaps for the homemade gingerbread crust.  And, while the homemade gingerbread men topping the cheesecake are adorable, they certainly aren't necessary.  If you do have the time to put some extra homemade touches on the cheesecake, these certainly give it a lot of character.

If you're having a late Christmas celebration and need a dessert to bring, this will surely bring a "wow" factor to the table.  Or you could file away the idea (perhaps to your Pinterest board of choice) for next year.  Either way, if you get a chance to make this cheesecake, you won't be sorry.

Gingerbread Cheesecake
via Munchkin Munchies, originally from Martha Stewart
serves 12

all-purpose flour, for dusting
Gingerbread Cookie dough (recipe below)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
12 mini gingerbread men (from recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Wrap the exterior of a 9-inch springform pan in 2 layers of foil.  Optional: before wrapping pan with foil, line bottom of springform pan with parchment paper (closing it in place with the locking mechanism) and spray pan with cooking spray.  This optional step making the cheesecake easier to slice and serve later on, but certainly isn't necessary.

On a generously floured piece of parchment paper, roll 1/2 of the Gingerbread Cookie dough into a 13-by-10-inch rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick.  Brush off excess flour.  Slide dough and parchment onto a baking sheet.  Bake until firm and golden brown, about 14 minutes.  Let cool completely on sheet on a wire rack.  Break into large pieces, then pulse in a food processor until finely ground.

Combine butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and 2 cups cookie crumbs in a bowl.  Press mixture firmly and evenly into bottom and one-third of the way up sides of the prepared pan.  Bake until set, about 10 minutes.  Let cool on a rack.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.  Beat cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar and the vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Reduce speed to low.  Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.  Beat in molasses, salt, spices, and lemon zest.  Pour the filling in the prepared and cooled crust.

Place cheesecake in a large, shallow roasting pan.  Transfer to the oven and carefully add enough water to the roasting pan to come about halfway up the sides of the springform pan.  Bake until cheesecake is set bull still slightly wobbly in the center, 60 to 65 minutes (mine took closer to 80 minutes).  Carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool in the roasting pan until the water is lukewarm.  Remove the springform pan from the roasting pan and allow the cheesecake to further cool down to room temperature on a wire rack, about 1-2 hours.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (preferably overnight).

Before serving, remove the cheesecake from the springform pan and slice into 12 servings using a hot knife (or even better heavy white thread or unflavored dental floss).  Arrange a miniature gingerbread man on each of the slices, and serve immediately.

Gingerbread Cookies
*Note: You will use half the recipe to make a slab to use for the cheesecake crust.  Refrigerate the other half for 30 minutes then roll, cut into miniature gingerbread men, and bake for cheesecake decoration.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 large egg, at room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, sugar, molasses and egg on medium speed until light and fluffy.  In the mean time, sift together the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.  Once the butter mixture is ready, slowly add in the flour mixture, beating until just combined.

Roll half the dough immediately for the crust according to directions above.  Wrap the remaining half of the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.  On a floured surface, roll the chilled gingerbread men dough to 1/4 inch thick.  Cut out gingerbread men using a small cookie cutter (one about 1 1/2 inch tall should be a good size to top each of 12 cheesecake slices).  Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes.  Let cool on pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Once cool, you can leave the gingerbread men plan or decorate them with royal icing or melted white chocolate (my preference).

10 comments:

  1. What a darling cake (and sounds delicious too).

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  2. This is amazing! So cute! I can see how everyone loved it! Love that the base is crushed up homemade gingerbread too...sounds so delish!

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  3. Ugh, this looks SCRUMPTIOUS! I'm a fellow birchbox member, and it sounds like we have similar opinions on their products (found you through a Birchbox google search; can't remember what one of my products was called! Oops.) Love your blog and am your newest follower :) Feel free to stop by and follow me back!

    Happy New Year!
    Stephanie
    www.stephanieziajka.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. this looks adorable and I just love your jewelry! will be bookmarking some items in your etsy shop. new follower and really lovely blog

    Rosemary
    NYC Style and a little Cannoli

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  5. Oh this look so, so cute. I like your decoration and the cake must be very tasty!

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  6. que pastel mas rico, lo dejo como favoritos aunque este en ingles.
    La masa de galletas la pones en la base sin cocer?

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  7. This looks AWESOME. I am going to attempt to make something similar myself, thankyou for the inspiration! (Jo in UK!) x

    ReplyDelete
  8. Just looking for some clarification... 2 pounds of cream cheese is four 8oz bricks?

    Thanks :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, indeed! You'll need (4) 8 oz. packages of cream cheese.

      Hope you enjoy the recipe!

      Delete

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