Christmas cakes: Eggnog cheesecake, gingerbread, rum cake recipes

lifeloveandsugar.com. I substituted a vanilla wafer crust for the more traditional graham crackers. I liked the combination.

Note: Some of you have noted that one thing you like about this column is that I often share my failures with you as well as my successes. Here is a doozy: This recipe is my second attempt at eggnog cheesecake. Initially, I tried a different recipe from a different website. As I worked through it, I noticed a few things that seemed odd. Still, however, I persevered, blinded by my desire for cheesecake. When the cake came out of the oven, it was browned on top, but completely liquid in the middle. That wasn’t the worst, however. My springform pan burst under the pressure from the expanding batter. There was liquid cheesecake everywhere.

Somewhere, Martha Stewart is weeping.

For the crust:

2 cups crushed vanilla wafer cookies (about 50 cookies)

⅓ cup butter, melted

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling:

24 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons flour

1 cup eggnog

¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg

4 eggs, room temperature

To make the crust:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Pulse the vanilla wafers in your food processor until reduced to fine crumbs. Pour into a bowl and add the butter, sugar and vanilla extract. Stir until all of the crumbs are thoroughly moistened.

Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. Press evenly along the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of the pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool completely before filling with cheesecake.

Once crust is cool, wrap the bottom in aluminum foil. We will be baking the cheesecake in a water bath, and this will protect it against leaks.

Place your crust into a larger pan (I use our turkey roaster).

To make the cheesecake:

Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Combine the cream cheese, sugar and flour using an electric mixer. Add the eggnog and nutmeg and mix until combined (my batter was lumpy at this point, so do not despair if yours is as well). Next, add the eggs one at a time, stopping to scrape the bowl a couple of times before proceeding. Now your mixture should be smooth.

Pour over your baked crust.

Pour hot water into the larger pan that holds your springform pan. Be careful not to get any water into the cheesecake. Bake your cheesecake for 90 minutes. Turn off the oven, but leave the cake in the oven for another 30 minutes. Open the oven door and leave the cake in the oven for another 30 minutes. Chill overnight (or for at least 8 hours) in the refrigerator.

Top with sweetened whipped cream and dust the cream lightly with nutmeg.

Chocolate Covered Gingerbread Cake

This cake from the 2002 issue of “Bon Appetit” magazine is little different from the old-fashioned gingerbreads served for centuries. Yet, throw in the glossy chocolate icing and the candied ginger garnish, and this simple dessert becomes elegant enough for any holiday party.

Best of all, making it is incredibly easy. It mixes up in less than 30 minutes, and because you drizzle the glaze over the cake, frosting it is also a breeze.

For the cake:

1 ¾ cups flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup warm water

½ teaspoon baking soda

¾ cup packed brown sugar

6 tablespoons butter, melted

⅓ cup mild-flavored molasses

2 large eggs

For the glaze:

½ cup whipping cream

¼ cup butter, room temperature

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla

To make the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch round baking pan with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper and the sides of the pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

Whisk together the first 6 ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.

In a measuring cup (or a small bowl), mix together the warm water and baking soda. In a large bowl, combing the brown sugar, butter, molasses and eggs. Mix until combined. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Mix in half of the water/baking soda solution. Mix in another third of the dry ingredients followed by the rest of the water/baking soda. Finish with the rest of the dry ingredients. Stir until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 20 minutes. Invert cake onto a plate and remove the parchment paper. Set aside until completely cool.

To make the glaze:

Stir together the whipping cream, butter, and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate and vanilla. Stir until chocolate is melted. Let sit for about 7 minutes. This will allow the glaze to cool a little bit, but will still leave it runny enough to pour.

To assemble:

Place cake on rack set atop baking sheet. Pour glaze over the cake, spreading with a spatula to coat top and sides. Top with pieces of candied ginger, mint leaves, or fresh raspberries if desired. Chill cake until ready to serve.

King Arthur Flour Rum Cake

Obviously, this one comes from King Arthur Flour. It’s a great cake to take to a party as it is easy to make and it travels well.

For the cake:

2 cups flour

1½ cups sugar

3.4 oz. box instant vanilla pudding mix

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup butter, softened

½ cup vegetable oil

½ cup milk, room temperature

½ cup rum, plain or spiced

2 teaspoons vanilla

For the syrup:

8 tablespoons butter

¼ cup water

1 cup sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup rum, plain or spiced

½ teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Coat a 10 to 12 cup bundt pan with cooking spray. Dust with flour, shaking out the excess.

Place the flour, sugar, pudding mix, baking powder, salt, butter and vegetable oil in a mixing bowl and mix at medium speed until thoroughly combined.

Beat in the milk, and then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Scrape the bowl thoroughly.

Stir in the run and vanilla.

Pour into your prepared cake pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool while you prepare the syrup. When cool, remove from the cake pan by inverting it onto your platter.

Combine the all syrup ingredients except for the vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to a rapid boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5-8 minutes, until syrup thickens slightly. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

Use a skewer to poke holes all over the cake. Pour about ¼ cup of the syrup over the cake. Allow it to soak in, and then repeat again and again until the syrup is used.

Cover cake loosely with plastic wrap and allow cake to sit overnight at room temperature.

Find more of Michael Knocks recipes at Press-Citizen.com/CookingClass.

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