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.
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.
via Munchkin Munchies, originally from Martha Stewart
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.
*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).