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Janet McCormick: Cheers for this holiday cheesecake

December 23, 2018

As the days until Christmas dwindle, I am slowly slipping into holiday mode. Although I will miss all the colors, candy, glowing lights and warm and fuzzy feelings, I am ready for the big day. No other holiday allows for the decorations, over the top and, well, extra-extra like Christmas does.

Almost every photograph of food I’ve shot for the last 30 days has some kind of tinsel and floral holiday theme. It’s been fun. I keep asking everyone for food requests and almost no one said cheesecake, so here you are.

This is just for you. It’s an easy fix and a perfect, creamy canvas for seasonal fruits and holiday cheer. I took a small slice for myself and sent the rest to my neighbor. She’s a young mother with the familiar look of total exhaustion. Oh do I remember how that was. She had two babies holding on to her and a dog nudging me every step I took. Trying to place it on the table for her, it occurred to me that the fur baby was more than likely lost and starving for attention as the two young’uns were probably sucking the life out of the parents leaving little room for any play time. I took a moment, bent down and said hello as I gave him a good long pat. After all, it’s a celebration for animal babies too.

I’m drinking my sweet, chocolaty coffee in my Santa reindeer mug, watching the fire crackle and the flame dance while I marvel over this photograph. I’ll look back later and admire the festive food photos and dishes I took the days leading up to the big day. But nothing has been tastier than this cheesecake. It’s an easy way to feed a crowd and it’s special enough to pass the “it’s for guests” dessert. With the extra slices of apple, oranges and raspberries, it’s downright perfect for royalty. Did I mention this is a make-ahead dessert that will make itself right at home in your fridge until you’re ready to serve it. Which is good if you’re like me, doing a little last-minute shopping right up until the store clerks tell you it’s time to get home.

CHEESECAKE

Crust:

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/8 teaspoon ground pumpkin spice

1/4 cup unsalted butter

Filling:

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup sour cream

Crust: Mix graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon; add butter or margarine. Press crust onto bottom and 2/3 of the way up a 9-inch springform pan lined with parchment. Wrap a large piece of foil around bottom of pan. Freeze until filling is prepared.

Make filling: Use an electric mixer to mix cream cheese, sugar, sour cream and vanilla. Blend until smooth and creamy. Whisk eggs in a bowl; add to cream cheese mixture. Blend just until eggs are incorporated. Remove crust from freezer and pour in filling. Place cheesecake into preheated water bath. Bake for 12 minutes; turn oven to 350F and bake until top of cheesecake turns golden, 50 to 60 minutes.

Make topping: Combine sour cream and sugar. Spread over cake. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours.

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