20 gingersnap cookies, crushed or blended (about 1 c)
1 T sugar
¼ t salt
4 T butter, melted
16 oz cream cheese, softened (2 8-oz sticks)
¾ c sugar
1 t vanilla bean paste
¼ t salt
¾ t nutmeg
¼ t cinnamon
¼ c heavy whipping cream
¾ c eggnog
6 egg yolks, beaten until pale (save the whites for something else – I tried a meringue buttercream recipe!)
Save and use later - 4 T superfine or caster sugar + brulee torch or oven with a broil setting
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; wrap each of the pans in a piece of foil when cool enough to handle – 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 the gingersnap crust, forming an even layer on top.
Fill the skillet or roasting pan with HOT water from the tap. You want the water to go at least 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. It just shouldn't be liquidy.) If the cheesecake starts to 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 brule them just before serving.) crème bruleé
Use the torch to caramelize the sugar. See photos. This can take several minuets if you are doing the whole cheesecake. Keep the torch moving at all times. The sugar is caramelized when it just starts to bubble and smoke.
Let sit for a minute for the sugar to harden.
*You can sub in Nilla Wafers or graham crackers if gingersnaps aren’t your jam.
**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 okay though, it’s just a bit tougher not to burn it.
Make this recipe? Let me know how it went - or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!