And in a flash, the festivities are over. It’s always so amazing to me what a whirlwind the Christmas holidays seem to be. The gifts, food, and celebrations seem to rush in and exit just as quickly. This Christmas was a bit different since I was absent from all of the preparations. What usually takes place over the course of the week or so before Christmas took place on the day before and day of… quite surprising for a woman like myself but it worked, and Christmas worked out wonderfully.
After opening gifts with my mother on Christmas morning, I finalized my appetizer and dessert contributions as well as small gifts and set off for Luke’s family home.
I love homemade gifts. While I didn’t have the time to make them for everyone, I did complete a fun jar of the dry mix for Chocolate Chunk pancakes for special cousins of Luke’s who I know adore these special breakfast treats.
For a dessert, I tried my hand at my very first cheesecake. I found myself sour cream-less on Christmas Eve and decided to go on a hunt for an alternative recipe. I found Christmas Cheesecake compliments of the Vancouver Sun; exchanging its crust recipe with my own, I gave it a try.
What do you think? I was incredibly happy with the appearance of the cheesecake and even more satisfied with the taste and consistency. Come Christmas day, we dove in and finished all but 2 pieces of this delicious treat. The secret was using a shallow pan filled with water placed on the rack under the cake versus a full on water bath. Water baths intimidate me and I was in no mood to test my limits.
The rest of the day was filled with laughs and heart to hearts. We had a blast with a gift of Luke’s Uncle: hats and scarves for all of the ladies.
A wonderful Christmas, indeed. It meant so much to be able to spend a little bit of time with everyone without getting burned out (despite nagging jet lag).
It’s 22 degrees F in Sussex County, NJ with promise of heavy snow today. What is it about me that brings the snow everywhere I go? My spa day, a beyond generous gift from my mother, is scheduled for Tuesday and that is my light at the end of the snow tunnel!
Have a very happy rest of your vacation!
Preparation time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 80-85 minutes
Serves about 12
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs ( I used pre-bought)
1/3 c. ground walnuts
1/3 cup granulated sugar
5 T butter, melted
3 bricks cream cheese, softened
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
1 cup (250 mL) eggnog
1 tablespoon (15 mL) all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon (2 mL) ground cinnamon, plus some for sprinkling
½ teaspoon (2 mL) ground nutmeg, plus some for sprinkling
– pinch ground cloves
Preheat the oven to 325 F (160 C). Place one oven rack in the lower position and another in the middle position. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a 9-or 10-inch (22 or 25 cm) wide springform cake pan. Place walnuts, sugar, graham crackers and butter into a bowl and mix until it comes together. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 or 10 inch springform pan. Bake at 325 for about 10 minutes and remove and set aside.
Meanwhile place the cream cheese and 1 cup (250 mL) sugar in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until lightened. Beat in the eggnog and flour. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the extract and spices. Pour the batter into the cake pan.
Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven. (The steam rising from it should help prevent the cheesecake from cracking as it bakes). Set the cake on the rack above the water and bake about 80 minutes, or until the cake jiggles slightly in the center and it browns slightly. Cool the cake on a baking rack for 15 minutes, and then run a sharp, thin and wet paring knife around the edges of the cake to a depth of 1 inch (2.5 cm). (This should also help prevent the cake from cracking as it cools and contracts.) Cool the cake to room temperature ( left it out overnight), and then cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
When you’re ready to serve, run a wet paring knife around the outer edges of the pan to loosen the cake from the sides. Remove the cake pan’s outer ring.
Cut the cake into wedges and set on plates.