Sunday, November 18, 2012

Gingerbread Cheesecake

This evening, our friends gathered for our second annual Fakesgiving. That's right - Fakesgiving. So named and organized by our friend, Chris, Fakesgiving is a Thanksgiving meal held the Sunday before the real deal holiday. This year we had a smaller crowd than last year, but to be honest, I enjoyed it more than last year. I think it is because smaller meant more manageable, so 1) everyone at the table could participate in the conversation; and 2) everyone could fit around one dinner table (as opposed to last year where some folks were relegated to the "kids" table).

I also really enjoyed that the whole thing felt less rushed. I remember last year's gathering to being a much more efficient affair. Friends arrived, friends ate, friend left. This year, however, while our start time was four o'clock, we didn't have our first course until around 5:30. Plus, we ate in courses, helping to slow things down and let our food settle.

Jessa had the great idea of plating the salad she made (meaning I actually ate the salad!), which we paired with Shelley's Curried Carrot Soup. The main meal had all of the traditional favorites, including a fourteen pound turkey, green bean casserole, corn casserole, sweet potatoes, and cranberries. We also had several non-traditional spins on traditional dishes, like gluten-free dressing, gluten-free macaroni and cheese, and stuffed pumpkin. And dessert included apple, pumpkin, and pecan pies, as well as gingerbread cheesecake. Needless to say, everyone left full and satisfied.

Towards the end of the evening, when only a handful of us were left watching football, I found it completely appropriate when Auld Lang Syn came on Pandora radio. New, newish, or old, good friends are priceless.

Gingerbread Cheesecake
Kelley Gondring

Preheat oven 350º

Combine in a medium bowl:
1 1/2 cups gluten-free ginger snap crumbs
4 tablespoons melted butter*
1/4 cup brown sugar

Thoroughly mix so that all ingredients are well incorporated. Pour mixture into a greased springform pan. Spread crumbs evenly across the bottom, using your fingers to firmly pack. Place in refrigerator.

*If using regular, full-of-gluten ginger snaps, increase butter to 6 tablespoons

In an electric mixing bowl, add:
2 eight ounce packages cream cheese, softened
2 eight ounce packages reduced fat cream cheese, softened

Using the paddle attachment, mix at moderate speed for thirty seconds.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and slowly add:
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons molasses
1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Mix 1 1/2 minutes so that the ingredients are smooth and creamy. Half way through, scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Over beating the batter will result in it rising too much and then falling when it cools, so set a timer if necessary.

One at a time add:
4 large egg yolks
Beat until yolk is just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and repeat.

Pour batter into the spring-form pan over top of the ginger snap crumb crust. Bake for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 325º and bake an additional 10 minutes. While the cheesecake is baking, prepare sour cream topping.

Sour Cream Topping
In a small bowl, combine:
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Spread over top of the cheesecake after it has baked at 325º for 10 minutes. Place back in oven and bake 7 additional minutes.

Turn off the oven and use a wooden spoon to hold the oven door ajar. Let the cheesecake sit for an hour.

Remove cheesecake from oven and let cool completely before refrigerating. Refrigerate at least 6 hours before serving.

Decorate as desired. [I sprinkled the top of each slice with a bit of turbinado sugar and made little baby ginger snaps, which I placed on a pillow of whipped cream.]

Eat up!

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