16 oz cream cheese, softened (2 8-oz sticks)
¾ c granulated sugar
1 t vanilla bean paste
¼ t salt
¾ t nutmeg
¼ t cinnamon (I love this brand!)
¼ c heavy whipping cream
¾ c Eggnog (I used Darigold)
6 egg yolks, beaten until pale (save the whites for something else – I tried a meringue buttercream recipe!)
Save to use later –
4 T superfine or caster sugar
Brûlée torch (or oven with a broil setting, but a torch will be much easier) – here’s a link to the one I use ($19.99 on Amazon as I write this), but there are others available for $11 or so as well!
Depending on your torch you may also need butane fuel – also available inexpensively online!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Use a rolling pin or food processor to pulse the gingersnaps into fine crumbs. Add 1 T sugar, 1/4 t salt, and 4 tablespoons melted butter and stir to combine. Press the crumbs into the bottoms of 4 mini springform pans. Use a spatula or the base of a glass to press into the pans.
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. When cool enough to touch, wrap each of the pans in a piece of foil – I recommend heavy-duty or grill foil so it’s less likely to tear. Set aside.
(While you’re waiting for the pans to cool, get a start on your cheesecake mixture!)
For the cheesecake:
Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese for 3 minutes, making sure to scrape the sides. Add ¾ c sugar, vanilla bean paste, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and beat for another 3 minutes, scraping sides.
Gently stir in first the whipping cream and then the eggnog, and then mix in the beaten egg yolks. Stir until combined, but don’t beat for a long period of time – overbeating can incorporate air bubbles that can make bumps in the tops of your cheesecakes as they bake. The batter will be pretty thin.
Transfer the foil-wrapped cheesecake pans into a large high-sided skillet, or a roasting pan.
Pour the batter evenly into the pans over the gingersnap crust. You could use a kitchen scale if you wanted them perfectly even, but I did okay without one.
Fill the skillet or roasting pan with HOT water from the tap. You want the water to go about halfway up the springform pans. Carefully set in the oven.
Bake at 325 for about 1 hour. You will know they’re done when mostly set in the center and don’t jiggle too much when you shake it. (some movement is ok—the cheesecake layers will continue to set as they cool. They just shouldn’t be liquidy.) If the cheesecakes start to turn too brown, turn off the oven.
When the cheesecakes are mostly set, turn off the oven and crack the door – leave the cheesecakes in the oven to cool and set for at least 30 minutes. They often crack if they cool too fast.
When the cheesecakes are mostly cool, remove from the water bath, and remove the foil. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours – or preferably overnight.
When you are ready to serve, remove the plastic wrap and loosen the sides of the pan. You may or may not need a knife; just release the spring very slowly.
Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of superfine sugar all over the tops of the cheesecakes. (Of note, the caramelized sugar won’t stay hard in the fridge, so bruleé them just before serving.)
With the bruleé torch, melt and caramelize the sugar. Start slowly; it can burn if you get too close! Keep the torch moving at all times. The sugar is caramelized when it starts to bubble and smoke just a bit Let sit for a minute for the sugar to harden.
And you’re done! Enjoy!
*You can sub in Nilla Wafers or graham crackers if gingersnaps aren’t your thing!
**An option when you don’t have superfine sugar is to put some regular sugar into a blender or food processor for 30 seconds or so. Smaller granules help the sugar melt faster when you are torching it. Regular sugar will still work, but it’s harder to caramelize it without burning.
Make this recipe? Let me know how it went – or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!