Friday, January 7, 2011

Eggnog Cheesecake Bars

I will unabashedly tell you that there need not be a special occasion in my or anyone else's life to knock out a treat. When a woman craves, a woman craves and though barbaric measures may be taken, that craving must be satiated. Usually instantly if possible.

Such is me. With eggnog "curing" for who knows how long in the blackhole of our refrigerator, it was time to do something about it! I had mentioned earlier that eggnog cheesecake bars were supposed to be added to our Christmas cookie/holiday festivus/merry-treats-gluttonizing; they did not. However, be it Jan 7th or December 7th, eggnog cheesecake bars are a welcome treat in my home anytime the snow falls. Not only is this the simplest cheesecake recipe you will ever put your hands on, it is, I dare insist that these may be the best cheesecake holiday concoction I've ever had. Simplicity, people, is why. You don't need a rock pile of organic hazelnuts or naturally-picked currant berries or whatever, in order for this to be a deluxe addition to your dessert bar. It's graham crackers. It's cream cheese. Some sugar, eggs, and butter, and whala. Will not break your food budget into smithereens.

So, thank you to some person in the Martha Stewart Kingdom for this. We LOVED it (I say, "loved" because they have all been eaten- in 22 hours. Every last buttery crumb).

Eggnog Cheesecake Bars

Vegetable oil cooking spray, for pan

12 graham crackers, finely ground (1 1/2 cups)

3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar

2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

1 pound cream cheese, room temperature

2 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

3/4 cup eggnog

1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for dusting

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Stir together graham crackers, 3 tablespoons sugar, and the melted butter. Press into bottom of pan. Bake until crust is just brown around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, beat cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, the eggs, yolk, eggnog, flour, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt; beat until smooth. Pour filling over crust. Set pan in a roasting pan, and add enough hot water to come halfway up sides of baking pan. Bake until just set, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove baking pan from water bath, and transfer to a wire rack. Let cool slightly, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight (the refrigeration step is really important!!).

Cut into 1 1/2-by-3-inch bars. Lightly dust tops of bars with freshly grated nutmeg just before serving.

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