Oh, Eggnog! For most of the year I don’t give it a thought, but when those holiday decorations start going up and the Christmas tunes start playing, all of a sudden I begin to crave that thick, rich, boozy treat. And, inevitably, it starts to find its way into my desserts.
Cinnamon Graham Cracker Crust:
- 1 1/4 cups (5.3 oz oz/150 g) cinnamon graham cracker crumbs
- 3 tablespoons (1.3 oz/37 g) granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons (2.5 oz/70 g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 pounds (680 g) cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/4 cups (8.8 oz/250 g) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 1 ¼ teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream (or sour cream, if you prefer)
- 1 tablespoon (.26 oz/7 g) cornstarch
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- ¼ cup brandy or dark rum
Sweetened whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg for garnish.
Make the crust:
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan. Place the pan inside a 9-inch cake pan and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Pat the mixture into the bottom and 1 inch up the side of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 8 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack and cool the crust completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
Make the cheese filling:
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium-low speed until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and beat until blended. Add the vanilla extract, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, cream, and cornstarch and mix until well blended. At low speed add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the rum or brandy and mix until blended.
4. Scrape the batter through a fine-mesh sieve into the crust (the sieve is optional, but makes such a difference!). Place the pans into a larger pan (such as a roasting pan). Pour enough hot water into the larger pan to come about an inch up the side of the outer cake pan. Bake the cake in the water bath for 75 to 88 minutes, until the center is set, but slightly wobbly. Remove the pan from the water bath and cool the cake in the pan, set on a wire rack, completely (the cake will continue to set up as it cools).
5. Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours before serving.
6. Before serving, top the cake with whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg.