Friday, December 28, 2012

Chai Cheesecake

I used to think that one of the downsides to making a cheesecake was that you had to do it ahead of time. But during this holiday season, I actually found that the do-it-ahead-of-time component of cheesecake making was perfect. I made this cheesecake on a Friday afternoon and didn't serve it until Sunday afternoon. Unlike other desserts, I didn't have to worry about it drying out or getting soupy. Instead, I could just cover it and put in the refrigerator until we were ready to leave for Jason's family's Christmas lunch.

Chai Cheesecake
Kelley Gondring

Preheat oven 500º

Combine in a medium bowl:
1 2/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

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

In an electric mixing bowl, add:
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
16 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, softened
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened

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

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and slowly add:
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/8 teaspoon salt

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 in:
2/3 cup freshly brewed, strong chai tea, cooled*
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix until liquids are evenly incorporated.

*My favorite chai tea is Bombay Chai made by Mighty Leaf. I steeped two chai tea bags in 2/3 cup of hot water for 4-5 minutes.

Pour batter into the spring-form pan over top of the ginger snap crumb crust. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 200º, remove aluminum foil, and bake an additional 50 minutes.

Turn off the oven and use a wooden spoon to hold the oven door ajar. Let the cheesecake sit for at least thirty minutes but preferably an hour (this one didn't quite make it an hour because I needed my oven to bake Sweet Palmiers for an End of the World Party).

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

Decorate as desired.

Eat up!

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