Friday, December 12, 2014

What's For Dessert: Eggnog Cheesecake Bites

If you invite me to a party, there's a good chance I'm going to bring more than one dish to share -- typically something savory and something sweet. For a recent get-together, I brought along everything bagel cream cheese dip and these eggnog cheesecake bites.

I've actually had these eggnog cheesecake bites on my mind since last year, and had plans to bake up a batch for the Christmas season after making salted caramel cheesecake bites for a Halloween party.

Alas, time got away from me (as typically happens during the hectic holiday season), and I never got the chance to bake up these little guys. (That, and, once you're past mid-January, no one seems to be into eggnog anymore, anyway.)

These eggnog cheesecake bites feature a spicy ginger cookie crust, a bourbon-infused eggnog cheesecake filling, and a little dollop of freshly whipped cream dusted with freshly-ground nutmeg. It doesn't get much more festive than that!

I find that the cheesecake bites taste even better on day two, so feel free to make them ahead of time. And, as a side benefit, making the cheesecake bites a day ahead frees up time on the day of your get-together, making it a bit less stressful. That's a win in my book!

Eggnog Cheesecake Bites (printer-friendly version)
makes 24 mini cheesecakes

For the crust:
1 cup ginger cookie crumbs (I used about 20 ginger thins)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecakes:
1 (8 oz) package neufchâtel cheese (or regular cream cheese), softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon bourbon (or vanilla extract)
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup organic eggnog
freshly grated nutmeg (or ground nutmeg), for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a mini muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, use the steel blade attachment to make crumbs from the ginger cookies. Add in the brown sugar and pulse a few times to incorporate into the crumbs. Carefully add in the melted butter and process until incorporated.
3. Spoon the crumb mixture into each lined mini muffin cup, filling each cup about 1/4 full. Use the back of the spoon or your (clean!) fingers to press the crumb mixture firmly into the bottom of each muffin cup. (The round end of a muddler also works quite well to tamp down the crumbs as well.)
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the neufchâtel cheese, egg, bourbon, and raw sugar together at high speed. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl as necessary. Mix in the egg nog and continue stirring at high speed until evenly combined.
5. Spoon the cheese mixture on top of the ginger cookie crumb layer, filling each muffin cup almost completely full.
6. Bake in the oven for 13-15 minutes, or until the cheesecake layer has set and appears matte, not glossy. Remove from the oven and let the cheesecake bites cool in the tin on a wire rack. Once cooled to the touch, place the tin in the refrigerator to chill.
7. To serve, remove the cheesecake bites from their paper liners. Dollop freshly whipped cream (see recipe below) on top of each cheesecake bite. Then garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

Freshly Whipped Cream

1 cup organic heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Chill your mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
2. Pour the heavy cream into the chilled mixing bowl, and whip at high speed. When cream begins to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla extract.
3. Continue to whip the cream until stiff peaks form.
4. Spoon a dollop of whip cream onto each cheesecake bite, or use a pastry bag with a star tip attached to pipe the whipped cream onto each serving.


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