Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tis the Season to Entertain

This is such a busy season filled with all the special things we do to prepare for Christmas. We are part of a couple's Bible study group and I wanted to make this week's get-together extra special in keeping with the season.
I was excited for the opportunity to use my Susan Winget dessert plates that I purchased in the Amana Colonies in Iowa last year. 

Then I just pulled out some of my greenery, white ironstone and chalkware pieces and tucked in little votive holders and mini mercury glass ornaments from Crate and Barrel.

I found the big pine cones at the grocery store, of all places! They fit well with the theme and added interesting texture. I love cheesecake and decided to try out a recipe for Vanilla Speckled Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache from Mixing Bowl.Com on the group.

Vanilla Speckled Cheesecake with Orange Scented Chocolate Graham Crust Ganache 'n Fresh Raspberry
Photo from MixingBowl.Com
2 cups     Chocolate Graham Cracker Crumbs
1 T    Orange Zest
½ cup     Unsalted Butter, melted
    Non-stick Cooking Spray
2     (8oz.) Packages Cream Cheese, softened
3     Eggs
1 cup     Sugar
2 cups    Sour Cream
1     Vanilla Bean, split and flesh removed
1 cup     Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
½ cup     Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 pt     Fresh Raspberries, gently cleaned and pat dry


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. For the crust combine chocolate graham crumbs, orange zest and melted butter in a medium mixing bowl and stir until mixture is moist. Pour into a greased 8 inch spring form pan and using the bottom of a measuring cup press crust evenly up around the edges as well as flat on the bottom. Place in refrigerator for 5 minutes to set.

In the meantime using an electric mixer beat cream cheese until light and fluffy, smooth and lump free. Add eggs one at a time and beat until thoroughly combined. Slowly begin adding sugar while beating until creamy, about 2 minutes. Finally add sour cream and vanilla bean and continue to beat until evenly distributed but do not over beat. Be sure to scrape edges of bowl throughout mixing to prevent any lumps.

In a large pot boil water needed for baking bath. Pour batter into chilled chocolate crust and using a spatula smooth the top. Wrap a large piece of aluminum foil up around the pan and place into a large roasting pan. Carefully pour hot water into roasting dish ¼ of the way up the sides of the spring form pan.

Bake for 45 minutes and then turn off the oven and let cake sit for 1 hour in the oven. The cake should jiggle slightly when removed from oven. At that point remove from roasting dish and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Chill cheesecake in refrigerator for at least 4 hours, loosely covered.

For the topping combine chocolate chips and condensed milk in a small sauce pan and heat over low. Stir constantly until melted and smooth. Evenly slather ganache across cheesecake and gently top with raspberries. Chill until ready to serve.
Here's the changes I made. I increased the crust ingredients to 3 cups graham crackers and 3/4 cup melted butter and used a 9" springform pan. I don't know that the filling would have fit in my 8" pan without spilling over. Also, I didn't have chocolate graham crackers so I used regular Honey Grahams and added about 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon of sugar. I used only one pint of raspberries and made a little pile of them on the top in the middle and sprinkled some orange zest on top. It looked pretty festive! Happy baking!


TheCrankyCrow said...

What a wonderfully festive display Roberta!! Wow - you all do bible study up good and proper in your parts!! I'd be voting to have it at your house each and every week! That cheesecake sounds had me at chocolate ganache... :o) Wishing you a fabulous Friday! Smiles & Hugs ~ Robin

Angela said...

Good morning Roberta, Everything looks lovely. So festive, and that dessert looks heavenly. Just perfect for a Bible study group. I am sure you are the perfect hostess. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Have a great weekend.

Raggedy Creations said...

Your decorations are so pretty Roberta and the food looks yummy.


~Sara said...

Sounds like a wonderful time! Love all of your decor and the cheesecake sounds yummy.I have never made one from scratch. Wishing you Christmas Blessings ~Sara

Karen/My Colonial Home said...

Oh it all looks so fun and festive. I imagine the Bible study group were quite pleased.
Thanks for the wonderful recipe.