Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas Candy Cheesecake


Each year around the holiday season I get the sensation that time is speeding up. Today I'll be RSVP-ing to Christmas parties and tomorrow I'll be wishing you a Happy New Year! So, even though it's not yet December I've decided to start my Christmas baking full force.

One sweet treat I love to take to holiday parties is cheesecake.  It feeds a crowd and is always well received. This is probably the fluffiest baked cheesecake I've ever made!  I was really surprised because it wasn't as dense as others I've retrieved from a water bath.  It has a shortbread cookie crust and a sweetened sour cream layer on top that holds on your choice of Christmas candies.


You can really put your own individual stamp on this cake by using a mixture of your favorite candies. Kids will love to help with the decoration and there's really no way to mess it up!  

I used dark chocolate M&M's, Sixlets, coconut Ferrero Raffaello confections, gumdrops, jelly beans, jimmies, confetti quins and soft puffy peppermints. Even though I fully encourage you to go crazy with the adornment, I would like to recommend using candies that are all relatively soft.  Hard candies are not welcome to this party.



Cheesecake isn't the only Christmasy thing I've been whipping up lately! I've been on a very special project  for Sony Pictures and their Arthur Christmas Blu-Ray, DVD release that happened on November 19th.   You can find a link for the full Arthur Christmas cake tutorial on their Facebook page HERE.


I had a blast making this cake, and the movie could not be more adorable. Even if you don't have kids it's a lot of fun to watch (I appreciated some of the adult humor that kids might not catch). Bryony the elf especially captured my heart - I highly recommend!


A few more words about the cheesecake. A good leak-proof springform pan is important! Otherwise you'll end up with a soggy mess, no cheesecake to eat and ultimately time wasted. I use this 9-inch Nordic Ware Leakproof Springform Pan for most all of my cheesecakes.

I also use this roasting pan with a rack insert made by Martha Stewart (only at Macy's) for the water bath.  The cheesecake pan can sit level on the rack while I pour in the hot water to the suggested depth. After the cheesecake has baked, I don't have to risk burning myself with hot water - I can just lift out the rack and allow the cheesecake to cool on the rack insert on my stove-top.  You can see the pan in action in this previous cheesecake post.

Christmas Candy Cheesecake
This recipe is adapted from Taste of Home 100 Best Desserts. I've changed the graham cracker crust to a shortbread crust. If you prefer the former, you can substitute the 2 cups graham cracker crumbs for the shortbread crumbs. I used Walker's brand shortbread cookies and a food processor to make my crumbs.
**This cheesecake should chill overnight, so plan ahead.
                                                                                                                                [click for printable version]
Crust:
2 cups shortbread cookie crumbs
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Securely wrap two squares of aluminum foil up and around the sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan.  The crust is very buttery and the aluminum foil will prevent butter from seeping out of the pan and onto your oven floor.  It will also be extra insurance against water seeping into the crust when it's baking in the water bath. 
  3. In a small bowl, combine the cracker crumbs, brown sugar and cinnamon; stir in butter. Press onto bottom and 1-1/2 in. up the sides of the spring-form pan. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack.  Let cool completely.
Cheesecake filling:
4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs, lightly beaten
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Add beaten eggs and mix on medium-high speed until incorporated. Pour into the partially baked shortbread crust. 
  2. Place cheesecake pan in a larger baking pan and add 1 in. of hot water to larger pan. Note: I used the hot water that comes from my tap because it is very hot indeed.  This is a short-cut I use sometimes, but I usually put on a large pot of water to use for the hot water in the water bath.
  3. Reduce oven heat to 325° and bake for 1-1/2 hours or until center is just set. 
Sour cream topping:
2 cups (16 ounces) full fat sour cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Your choice of Christmas candies
  1. In a medium bowl, combine sour cream and sugar and stir until smooth. Spoon the mixture over the surface of the hot cheesecake and spread with the back of the spoon to cover.  Bake for 5-7minutes longer.
  2. Remove spring-form pan from water bath.  Allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Loosen cheesecake from the sides of the pan with a knife, but do not remove the collar. Refrigerate overnight. Open the collar of the spring-form pan and remove.  Garnish with your choice of Christmas candies.


Supplies:
Ferrero Rafaello 15PC
Wilton 6 Color Christmas Sprinkle Mix
Sixlets in Jars Holiday Set - 3 Colors
Trader Joe's Citrus Gum Drops
9-inch Nordic Ware Leakproof Springform Pan

42 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

This cheesecake is wonderfully festive! A real beauty.

Cheers,

Rosa

Sarah said...

I've made this as a Taste of Home recipe for years now, and my husband would demand it every Christmas. You've done a beautiful job. I usually just sprinkle mine with M&Ms.

Cassie | Bake Your Day said...

Isn't it crazy how fast time flies by! This cheesecake is beautiful, I love the toppings you chose!

Cookin' Canuck said...

Absolutely gorgeous! I love your styling, with the Christmas lights hanging behind.

Maggie @ A Bitchin Kitchen said...

You seriously out-do yourself every time I visit your blog! This is one gorgeous cheesecake!

vanillasugarblog said...

wow isn't that just stunning.
you truly have the talent ms thing

Steph said...

If this doesn't get you in the holiday spirit, I don't know what will!

Amy said...

JIMMIES! Oh goodness, I love that you used that word. So many people I know have no idea what those are, they say, "Aren't they just sprinkles?"

Kavi said...

What a festive cake! I LOVE those coconut Ferrero Raffaellos... must go find some ASAP!

jamie @ green beans and grapefruit said...

How gorgeous!!!!

EliFla said...

W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L xoxoxoxoxo, Flavia

Tartes and Caro said...

splendid

Sharla said...

Aah - I always LOVE looking at your desserts!! I can't say mine always turn out so pretty, but I enjoy trying!

Meagan @ Scarletta Bakes said...

Just beeee-autiful!! Completely gets me in the spirit of the season!!!

Sue said...

This MUST be the most festive cheesecake ever made! The shortbread crust sounds amazing! Your cake for Sony is PERFECTION!

Homebird said...

This is so dreamy!

Paula said...

That Arthur Christmas Cake is adorable! What a beautiful job you did. Congratulations on this project with Sony.
This cheesecake is quite pretty and may just replace the tradition of stuffing stockings with candy and chocolates:)

Elizabeth@ Food Ramblings said...

this looks absolutely amazing!!!!!

Colette Just for Foodies said...

What a cute idea. Love the "snowball" Ferreros!

CouldBeKim said...

So festive looking!

Kim

http://loopsoflavender.blogspot.com/

Tip Top Shape said...

I absolutely love this. What a perfect holiday dessert!

Debby Foodiewife said...

Yes, the cheesecake is adorable and festive. But, I have to say, that character you made is brilliant. LOVE those reindeer slippers. I just love your artistic talent. Back to the cheesecake... I've been dying to make one, and I think this is the one.

Rebecca said...

You make the prettiest cheesecakes, Heather.

Rachel @ Baked by Rachel said...

That top is just WAY too fun! What a simple but totally festive way to decorate and kids could easily be involved in that!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar said...

This is so pretty!! I wish I could be at your holiday dessert table. Awesome!

Bellenza Wedding Bistro said...

Never had candy-topped cheesecake...but your super-festive version is certainly tempting!

Therese (getpartychic.com) said...

I love this! And, I am super excited about the shortbread crust!

Monica said...

Beautiful cheesecake (sprinkles and candy do make things better) and amaaazing Arthur Christmas cake! Wow! I saw the movie last year with my husband and son, and loved it too!

Lynna said...

This is a GORGEOUS cake! It looks so precious and adorable. ♥

Becca said...

Everything you make looks so beautiful. You have actually inspired me to try and make things look prettily decorated. When I go home for Christmas I'm definitely going to try for some elaborate cakes or cupcakes, but first I think I'll try a hand at decorating sugar cookies as well. Oh, and I'll probably be making this cheesecake too. It looks incredible!

Jackie said...

Oh my goodness! This has to be one of the most festive holiday cakes I've ever seen--my daughter will certainly be thrilled to assist in making this one:)

Jessica said...

Oh my gosh this looks absolutely incredible. I so agree about this time of year, it speeds up so much I definitely think you need to start early! And it's after Thanksgiving so I think it's fine! I need to make this cheesecake this year!

Jenny said...

You know, I'm not a big cheesecake fan, but then you went and put all those goodies on it, and as my husband will tell you, I cannot resist a peppermint. You could tell me it was poison and I'd still eat it.

marla said...

Such a very fun & festive cake Heather!

Cookbook Queen said...

Heather, you are absolutely AMAZING. I mean seriously crazy amazing talented. No words for that cake!!

Lora said...

The most festive cheesecake EVER!

We Are Not Martha said...

This is the prettiest cheesecake I've ever seen!! And that Arthur Christmas cake? YES!

Sues

Connie the Cookie Monster said...

it's beginning to look a lot like christmas (8)

Danijela said...

I love Christmas inspired cakes.I would expect this recipe to be more complicated but it's not. That's fantastic. You know, I might give it a try. Thank you!!! :)

Sally - only gluten free baking said...

This is beautiful. I just saw it on a round up at Love from the Oven. Its feeling very Christmassy all of a sudden.

Christi @ Love From The Oven said...

Heather, this is seriously one of the most stunning cakes (I'm going broader than just cheesecakes!) I've ever seen. Love it!

lynnieb said...

I just made this for our office Christmas lunch, and it was a big hit... I have always for whatever reason been afraid of cheesecakes, and it was so easy and came out so good.

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