Home - is where I want to be / But I guess I'm already there /I come home -
she lifted up her wings /
Guess that this must be the place...
- Talking Heads, "Naive Melody"

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Nutmeg Cheesecake

The last office birthday of the year would just have to be my boss'. I just did a layer cake and a torte for the other two that fall during this season, so I sounded her out on the topic of cheesecake. This recipe was published in the Holiday 2006 edition of The Baker's Companion, put out by the much-worshiped (and they deserve it) King Arthur Flour--I don't know if they still do it, but my grocery store hasn't had it in ages now. I flagged the recipe immediately, but I never had a good excuse to make it. Cheesecake is not something I can make for just the two of us, it would be sitting around here for a week. And this is a very holiday cheesecake, not something that can be made at just any time of year.

I may have to find an excuse to make it every year from now on, though, because it is really, really, really good. It capped the afternoon very well--the group having taken the opportunity on a rare day when we were all in the office at the same time to go out for an extended lunch at Legal Sea Foods, we meandered back through the freezing rain (precursor to the ice storm that would come that night), occupied a conference room and set to.

I am a bit too self-conscious to take pictures of my baking while at the office. But here is the recipe:

1/2 c (1 stick) butter
1/4 c confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c plus 2 Tbsp AP flour
1/2 c chopped nuts

3 8-oz packages cream cheese, room temp
1 1/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp eggnog flavoring OR use 1/2 c eggnog and elimate the 1/2 c heavy cream - NOTE: I used the eggnog
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 c (8 oz) sour cream
1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 c (2 oz) sour cream
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c heavy cream

Stencil Decoration (optional):
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp confectioners sugar

To make the crust:
  1. Preheat your oven to 375F.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the butter until soft.
  3. Add the sugar, vanilla, and salt, beat at medium speed until fluffy. Scrape the bowl to be sure everything is well combined, then mix in the flour and nuts.
  4. Press into the bottom and about 1/2-inch up the sides of a 9- or 10-inch springform pan. Use a piece of plastic wrap while pressing into place.
  5. Bake the crust for 11-15 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool.

To make the filling:
  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. Beat the cream cheese on low speed until no lumps remain, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice.
  3. Add the sugar and salt and mix until well blended.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bottom of the bowl after each.
  5. Stir in the eggnog flavoring or eggnog, vanilla, sour cream, and heavy cream (if using). Remember, eliminate the heavy cream if you are using eggnog. Stir just until the mixture is smooth.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake in a preheated 325F oven for 45-50 minutes. The edges of the cake will look set and a light golden brown, and the middle should still jiggle when you nudge the pan.
  7. Turn off the oven, open the door slightly and let the cheesecake cool slowly for 1 hour. During this time the center will finish setting. Cooling the cake slowly will keep the top from cracking (NOTE: No, it didn't! I got a spectacular crack) and ensure an even, smooth texture inside.
  8. After an hour, remove the cake from the oven and run a knife around the top edge to allow the cake to contract as it cools. Chill overnight or for two hours before topping.
To make the topping:
  1. Stir together the sour cream, sugar, and vanilla; set aside.
  2. Whip the heavy cream until stiff, fold in the sour cream mixture.
  3. Spread on top of the chilled cheesecake.
  4. If you plan to stencil the top, place it in the freezer for 2-3 hours.

To stencil the top: (I didn't do this part)
  1. Combine the nutmeg, cinnamon, and sugar.
  2. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer (be sure the topping is set) and place a holiday or other stencil on top. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the top.
  3. Carefully lift the stencil straight up and refrigerate the cheesecake until ready to serve.


Pop Argot said...

"(I got a spectacular crack)"

[beavis] heh heh heh [/beavis]

PJH said...

Alas, The Baker's Companion magazine lasted but a single year - hold onto it, maybe it'll be a collector's item someday! Anyway, glad the cheesecake tickled your fancy (and your boss' too, I hope...) Thanks for the kind words- PJ Hamel, baker/blogger, King Arthur Flour

RJS said...

Wow! Thanks for stopping by. :) That's too bad about the magazine - I will have to make extra-sure that copy survives.

Everyone loved the cheesecake!