Eggnog Cheesecake with Candied Pecans & Cranberry Compote
Lauren Mitterer, WildFlour Bakery
For the Graham Cracker Crust:
1¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
3 oz. unsalted butter, melted
For the Cheesecake:
3 lbs. cream cheese, room temperature
1½ cups sugar
1½ tsp. ground nutmeg
6 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
For the Mascarpone:
1 lb. mascarpone
2 oz. brandy, or to taste
3 oz. pure grade B maple syrup
Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a nine-inch springform pan.
Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, nutmeg, and melted butter in a bowl. Press mixture onto bottom of the pan and bake it for five to seven minutes, or until slightly golden. Allow crust to cool before adding cheesecake mixture.
Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.
Place cream cheese, sugar, and nutmeg in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and mix on a low speed until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. After the addition of each egg, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add vanilla last, stirring to make sure that all ingredients are incorporated. Pour filling into the prepared crust.
Tear three large squares (12 to 14 inches) of aluminum foil. Stack the foil squares flat on the counter and place the springform pan in the middle of the stack. Starting at the corners, being careful not to tear the foil, bring the foil up the sides of the pan. This will prevent any water from leaking into the crust. Once the pan is watertight, place it in a roasting pan or larger cake pan. Place this in the oven with the rack slightly pulled out to give you easy access for adding the water. Carefully pour hot water into the larger pan until the water reaches halfway up the side of the springform pan. It is very important not to get water in or on the cheesecake, so pour very gently.
Bake cheesecake for about one hour, or until it is set in the middle. Carefully remove the pan from the oven, remove cheesecake from the water bath, and set it aside to cool. Once cool, place it in the refrigerator to finish setting, at least four hours.
While the cheesecake sets, prepare the mascarpone topping. Place the mascarpone, brandy, and maple syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and mix to combine. Once combined, turn the speed to high to whip the mascarpone into a stiff consistency, being careful not to overwhip it. Refrigerate until ready to use.
After the cheesecake is set, unmold the sides of the pan and, using an offset spatula, gently remove the bottom. Spread or pipe mascarpone mixture over the top of the cooled cheesecake or serve as a garnish on the side. Garnish with the candied pecans and add the cranberry compote, if desired.