So, I have to admit that this was the first cheesecake that I have ever made. I have enjoyed many cheesecakes, and my mom used to make them all of the time, but I guess they always seemed overly time-consuming to me. Well, since I was hosting Christmas this year, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try one. Not to mention that cheesecakes freeze remarkably well, so I was able to whip this up one Friday a couple of weeks prior to the big day and stick it in the freezer. The recipe is adapted from one by Martha, but I used pre-made, pre-cut GIANT gingerbread men instead of making them from scratch which cut down on the time involved significantly. You could also substitute gingersnaps. I have to say, it was delicious!
- All-purpose flour, for dusting
- Pre-made gingerbread men cookie dough, baked (or make your own)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap exterior of a 9-inch springform pan in 2 layers of foil.
- Put all but a few of the gingerbread cookies into a food processor and pulse until finely ground.
- Combine butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and 2 cups cookie crumbs in a bowl. Press mixture firmly and evenly into bottom and one-third of the way up sides of prepared pan. Bake until set, about 10 minutes. Let cool on rack.
- Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Beat cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar and the vanilla, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping sides of bowl as needed. Beat in molasses, salt, spices, and lemon zest. Pour filling into cooled crust.
- Place cheesecake in a large, shallow roasting pan. Transfer to oven, and carefully add enough hot water to roasting pan to come about halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake until cheesecake is set but still slightly wobbly in center,65 to 70 minutes, then turn the oven off and keep the oven door closed for another hour. The cake should be completely set at this point. Carefully remove springform pan from roasting pan, and let cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 8 hours (preferably overnight).
- Before serving, run a hot knife around edges of cheesecake to loosen, and remove sides of pan. Arrange gingerbread cookies in center of cake in a circle (with heads facing inward and arms touching, alternating light and dark).