Eggnog Cheesecake with Gingerbread Crust and Fresh Whipped Cream

I did it again. Every year, I walk past the eggnog display at the grocery and get that warm holiday feeling. Visions of crackling fires and a sparkling tree enter my mind. It’s Christmas in a cup! The carton makes its way into the buggy. I get it home, swig a few times from container (don’t judge!) and then…what do I do with all that super sweet eggnog? Solution:

Eggnog Cheesecake 2Eggnog cheesecake! This recipe for mini-cakes makes use of the tons and tons of gingerbread dough sitting in our fridge, right by the eggnog. (Here’s my favorite gingerbread recipe from Southern Living.) If you use the slice-and-bake kind, we’ll keep it as our little secret. Happy baking!

Eggnog Cheesecake

Eggnog Cheesecake with Gingerbread Crust

8 ounces of gingerbread cookie dough, about 1 cup

1 8-ounce block cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup natural or organic sugar

1 4-ounce container of applesauce, about 1/2 cup

1/2 cup eggnog (I used So Delicious Coconut Nog)

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 tablespoon sour cream

1 egg + 1 tablespoon egg white

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 pint whipping cream

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon sugar

*Divide the cookie dough into 12 each portions. Roll into a ball, then press each into a greased muffin tin, forming the dough up around the sides to make a small crust.

*In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until fluffy.

*Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

*Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into each prepared muffin cup. You should have a small amount of room at the top. (The cookies will rise a little, the cheesecake will not.)

*Bake at 325 for 30 minutes, or until the cheesecakes are set. Allow to cool, then remove from the molds. Refrigerate.

To make the whipped cream: Put your mixing bowl, preferably stainless steel, in the freezer for a few moments to get it extra cold. Add the cream, vanilla and sugar to the bowl and use a hand mixer or stand mixer with the wire whip attachment to beat the cream. When stiff peaks from, you’re done! For me, this takes 2-5 minutes.

Top your chilled cakes with the cream, dust with cinnamon and enjoy!

Fluff-N-Stuff.

My mom makes the yummiest dessert. It goes something like this:

Chocolate pudding + Cool Whip + crumbled brownies. Bled together until it looks right. Top with Heath bar if you feel like it.

When I was charged with Easter desserts, I wanted to make a riff off this family favorite. But Cool Whip is troubling to me. Have you read the ingredients?

Water, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated coconut and palm kernel oil, sodium caseinate, vanilla extract, xanthan and guargums, polysorbate 60 and betacarotene.

Oh my. All those unpronounceables. I don’t think we want to ingest them. So I changed the recipe up to make it with real food. This meant organic pudding sans funky stuff and REAL whipped cream. The fat content certainly went up…but we did kick the word “hydrogenated” out of the mix. That counts for something!

Fluff-N-Stuff

1 4.5 oz chocolate pudding, prepared.

(I used an organic stovetop version and whole milk)

1 8×8 pan of your favorite brownies

(I use Mama Pea’s Double Chocolate¬†recipe)

2 cups cold heavy cream

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate chips for topping.

*Prep your pudding and brownies as far as a day in advance, if you can avoid eating them. Get them in the fridge so they’re nice and cold.

*Place your cold cream in a large metal bowl. Add in the sugar and vanilla, then beat with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. For me, this was 5 minutes on a medium speed.

*Gently fold about 3/4 of the whipped cream into the pudding mixture. Reserve the remaining whipped cream.

*Roughly crumble your brownies. Add about 3/4 of the brownie crumbles into the fluffy pudding.

*Now start layering. Pudding mixture–remaining brownies–pudding mixture–remaining whipped cream–chocolate chips.

So simple. So good. What’s your favorite easy dessert recipe?