I had to make the most of this beautiful, relaxed weekend. No work for me Saturday and Sunday meant the time to dig into something extravagant for no reason except to, well, there was no reason. Certainly not for the 10K+ calories loitering in my fridge. Cranberries and port seeped into my dreams these past weeks and begged to cover a dense cheesy cake supported by a buttery, spicy, ginger snap crust.
Let’s do it I replied.
Of course I still tried to do the usual cleaning, organizing, make cornbread for the soccer banquet Monday sort of thing. The stuff that “counts” as being productive. I also had the treat of Chloe (teen daughter) wanting to spend some time together and I quote, “Really mom, I just want to. I’m not trying to suck up or anything”, she said. You don’t have to say it twice. I’m there. I’ll do the real pre Thanksgiving clean Wed night!
Let’s start with the gingery snaps by Alton Brown. They would have been worthy of a life unto their own, lest they were destined for further adulteration. We did munch on a few of these with tea and I’ll be making more for my holiday freezer cookie stash. And these too.
I searched my cookbooks and the internet for a recipe. This one stood out with its inclusion of powdered ginger, fresh ginger, AND candied ginger. I did about half of the fresh and candied ginger just to not have it be too overwhelming in the crust. It still packed a good punch but next time I will follow the recipe exactly.
Ginger snaps from Alton Brown and Food Network:
9 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
7 ounces dark brown sugar
5 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
3 ounces molasses, by weight
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
4 ounces finely chopped candied ginger
Take 8oz pulverized ginger snaps, one stick of melted butter (1/2 cup) , 1/3 cup of sugar and a pinch of salt mixed together and mash it into your springform.
I also researched many a cheesecake recipe in print and online. Going for a tall, dense cheesecake on the side of New York style, I hit it off most with Smitten Kitchen’s recipe. I followed it with the exception of the ginger crust instead of the graham cracker crust, and I added 1/2 cup sour cream (I like a little tang) and eliminated the 2 yolks (I don’t know why). And I did my own topping.
8 ounces ginger snaps
8 tablespoons (1 stick or 4 ounces or 113 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Very tall cheesecake filling:
5 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (Philadelphia is recommended for cheesecakes but if you’ve had success with other brands, feel free to use them again)
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
5 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
I liked the idea of blasting up the heat for 10 minutes to start but thinking my oven cooks a little under temp I went higher than the °425 and browned the top- but no worries there.
I made the cheesecake Saturday night and this cranberry port topping Sunday morning. I reduced 3 cups of Port to 1/2 cup. Added to the port 10 oz frozen cranberries, 1/2 cup sugar 1 T lemon juice, a couple good pinches of orange zest and 1 T cornstarch. Just bring it all to a boil for a couple minutes then take off the heat and cool completely. I put it in the fridge pretty quick.
Delectable! I could go far with this- sweet and/or savory. Duck comes to mind.
3 cups of port reduced to 1/2 cup
10 oz frozen cranberries
1 TB lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 Tb cornstarch
1/2 tsp or so of orange zest
I’ll let go of my perfectionist needs and share the center of this bad boy. You can see where it just sags a little in the middle (hmmm sounding familiar). It seemed ever so slightly undercooked. It could have been our chicken’s eggs- gorgeous they are but since they are new layers, they really don’t qualify as ‘large’ eggs just yet. Except for our buff orpington who’s pulled off a couple double yolkers (*see footnote). Although, it also stayed the night in our cold room, aka pantry. Actually, after spending one solid night in the fridge, the middle was what I’d call firm. Sometimes I wish I could just put myself in a cold fridge for a night and call myself firm.
Or better yet, for the day after when you need a little something sweet after your turkey sandwich and you have the space in your stomach to enjoy.
Stay sweet and give thanks-