Recipe: Eggnog cheesecake with candied kumquats
Decadent and scrumptious come to mind when I think about this cheesecake. In the tradition of New York–style cheesecakes, this eggnog version is rich, dense but still light, and creamy beyond belief. The eggnog adds a sweet, sophisticated flavor to the cheesecake and the booze will be noticed, but splendidly so. Years ago, I began using ground Grape-Nuts cereal to create a crumb crust that wouldn’t get soggy, and it is perfect for this cheesecake, adding its own nutty flavor and crunch. Make everything ahead: The cheesecake can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month (allow to thaw for 12 hours in the refrigerator). The kumquats are simple to make and will keep for 3 months.
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups Post Grape-Nuts cereal
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of kosher or sea salt
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup eggnog
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 tablespoon brandy
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream, very cold
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar, sifted
Candied Kumquats (recipe follows), optional
1 Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Butter a 9- or 10-inch springform pan with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Set aside.
2 To make the crust, in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process the Grape-Nuts until fine crumbs form, allowing the processor to run for 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt and process to combine. Pour the remaining 4 tablespoons butter through the feed tube and process just until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Turn the crumbs out into the prepared pan and press evenly onto the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides. (I use a flat-bottomed, stainless-steel 1/2-cup measuring cup to help press the crumbs, which prevents the corners from being thicker than the sides.)
3 Bake the crust until crisp and lightly colored, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool while you prepare the filling. When the crust is hot out of the oven, press the bottom crust with the measuring cup again to smooth it. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF.
4 To make the filling, in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process the cream cheese until smooth. Add the granulated sugar and then the eggs, processing after each addition and then continuing to process until the mixture is thoroughly combined and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Add the vanilla, eggnog, bourbon, rum, and brandy and process until completely smooth and all ingredients are thoroughly combined. (Alternatively, beat the ingredients in a large bowl using an electric mixer.)
5 Gently pour the cheesecake filling into the prebaked crust. The filling will likely rise above the crust, which is not a problem. Bake until the sides are slightly puffed, about 40 minutes. The center will still be very soft and will jiggle when you shake the pan gently. Turn off the oven, set the oven door ajar, and leave the cheesecake, undisturbed, in the oven for 50 minutes. Then transfer the cheesecake to a wire rack and let cool completely in the pan. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, but preferably overnight.
6 To decorate the cheesecake, unlatch the sides of the pan and carefully lift them off. In a medium bowl, combine the cream and confectioners' sugar and beat with a whisk or electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Transfer the cream to a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip and pipe rosettes around the edge of the cheesecake, spacing them 1 inch apart. Place a candied kumquat in the spaces between the rosettes.
7 To serve, dip a sharp knife in hot water, wipe it dry, and cut the cake into slices, dipping the knife and wiping it dry before each cut. Serve on dessert plates with 1 or 2 kumquats placed alongside each slice.
Serves 10 to 12
These petite orange gems are a seasonal favorite of mine. They look wonderful on the cheesecake, but are also a good accompaniment to almost any holiday dessert and make a delightful food gift.
12 ounces (about 45) fresh kumquats, stems removed
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
1 Using a sharp paring knife, and piercing only the skin, cut 4 evenly spaced lengthwise slits in each kumquat. Place the fruits in a medium saucepan with cold water to cover, bring to a simmer over medium heat, and poach the fruit for 5 minutes. (If you overcook the kumquats at this stage, they will fall apart.) Drain in a colander and set aside.
2 Using the same pan, combine 1 1/2 cups of the sugar with the water. Stir to dissolve the sugar, add the kumquats, place over medium heat, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, so the liquid barely simmers and the sugar doesn’t brown, and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes. The fruit will look glazed and still be whole. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the kumquats to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange the fruit so they aren't touching one another. Let cool for 10 minutes.
3 Place the remaining 1 cup sugar in a small bowl. One at a time, roll the kumquats in the sugar and return them to the rack, again not touching. Allow the fruits to dry at room temperature overnight. Transfer to individual paper candy cups to prevent them from sticking together, and store an airtight container in a cool, dry place. The candied kumquats will keep for up to 3 months.
Makes about 45
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Excerpted from The Christmas Table by Diane Morgan. Copyright 2009 by Chronicle Books. Excerpted with permission by Chronicle Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.