The Ginger Cheesecake is another recipe from Rose's Heavenly Cakes that Marie baked before the Bake-Along started. I decided it would be a great addition to my office holiday party, a pot-luck lunch held last Thursday.
First up was baking gingerbread cookies--that was part of last Monday's baking marathon, though the dough was mixed up the night before. I would probably have used purchased Swedish gingersnaps, except for the decorating idea of putting cookies around the outside of the finished cheesecake--Rose's has gingerbread men and women 'holding hands' around the cake. I opted for various Christmas designs: a gingerbread man, a holly leaf, a tree, and a candy cane. It took me a while to grasp how small the cookies are--2 inches high by 1-1/2 inches wide for Rose's gingerbread men. My set of Wilton mini Christmas cookie cutters turned out to be just right.
I used the new-to-me technique of rolling the cookies between two sheets of parchment, and it worked like a charm and avoided my frequent problem of using too much flour as I roll out cookies. As Rose's note warns, I did have to put the cookies back in the freezer or fridge before moving them from the parchment to the baking sheets, but that was a small price to pay for the ease of rolling them out. I also got a couple of batches of cookies a little too dark (it was hard to tell with the fairly dark gingerbread dough), but it didn't seem to hurt the taste.
The cheesecake mixture was a snap once I'd managed to grate enough ginger for 3 tablespoons of ginger juice. The temptation to use bottled ginger juice was strong, but I resisted. If I hadn't had a Microplane grater, though, the bottle would have won. I discovered the drawback to my new handleless Microplane, bought to replace one where the handle broke--that handle is a real help in keeping the grater stable and avoiding grating of your fingers. Anyway, once the ginger was grated I put it in a very fine strainer and pressed to extract the juice. The cheesecake then mixes up in the KitchenAid in a snap, using the whisk beater. It's a pretty light mixture--not so much cream cheese and a relatively large amount of sour cream.
I baked it in a 9-inch springform (Rose suggests either an 8-inch or a 9-inch) and so had a little less height on the finished cheesecake. The cake bakes for 30 minutes, then the pan is rotated in the oven, and it bakes another 30 minutes. Then the oven is turned off and the cake is left in the oven for another hour without opening the door. As I peered through the oven window after the initial hour, I was surprised to see that the cake had risen unevenly and the back of the cake was above the rim of the springform pan. However, by the end of the second hour in the oven, it had shrunk back to more-or-less even with the rest of the cake.
I chilled the cheesecake overnight before removing the sides and removing the bottom (warily--Marie had problems getting hers off)--I inverted the whole cheesecake onto a plastic-wrap-lined cookie sheet, and gently pried off the springform pan base. It came off cleanly, and I flipped the cheesecake back over onto my foil covered cake circle. Despite the reduced height from using a 9-inch pan and some inward sloping of the edges, the gingerbread cookies still looked fine around the outside. The larger diameter cake did make it easier to cut small slices for the party.
The taste was great--the ginger is distinct but not overwhelming, and the gingerbread crust helps bring it out further. This is a light-textured cheesecake with the high proportion of sour cream to cream cheese, but it's still got a very creamy mouth feel. Definitely a winner.