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The holidays have come and gone, leaving a trail of obesity and broken diets in their wake. I, for one, have no regrets. Sure, none of my pants fit me quite right anymore, but it was worth it. Plus, it’s a great time for some baking experimentation.
I came up with this recipe after I entered a baking contest at work, at the insistence of my coworkers. I originally planned to enter one of the candy bar cakes, but my friends urged me to come up with a dessert that used “holiday flavors.” Pumpkin seemed too obvious, so I tried eggnog. And, I went with cheesecake because I figured it would be something that few people would do.
These eggnog mini cheesecakes are spiked with a hint of rum, and are topped with rum caramel sauce. You can easily make these “kid-friendly” by omitting the booze, but I think it adds an extra depth of flavor to the overall dish.I use a mini cheesecake pan to make the eggnog mini cheesecakes. You can also use a standard cupcake/muffin pan lined with paper liners, but the presentation will be a little different. For a more in-depth account on how to make mini cheesecakes, click here.
Prepare and bake the crusts. While they cool, make your cheesecake batter.
Make the cheesecake batter as you would any normal cheesecake batter, but omit the sour cream. Instead, we’re adding eggnog, flour, and rum. Mix in the cinnamon and nutmeg. For optimal results, use freshly grated nutmeg. You can really taste the difference. Pour into your prepared pan and bake until puffy and only slightly wobbly in the center.
To make the rum caramel sauce, heat butter, sugar, and a little bit of water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil. Continue stirring until the mixture turns light brown. Remove from heat and carefully add the cream (it may splatter, so be careful), then stir until the cream is incorporated. Return to the heat and continue cooking until the sauce thickens and turns caramel-colored. Remove from heat and add the rum and vanilla extract, then stir until combined. Allow to cool completely. You can make the sauce ahead of time and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Just reheat until it is the desired consistency.
And, if you’re looking to leave an impression, you can finish by garnishing with a caramelized sugar cage. I used this video as a guide on how to make the cage. It takes practice, but don’t be afraid. You can do it!
Eggnog Mini Cheesecakes
For the Crust
- ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- 1 tsp white sugar
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
For the Cheesecake
- 2 8oz packages of cream cheese, softened
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- ¾ cup eggnog
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp rum
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp cinnamon (more or less to taste)
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg (more or less to taste)
For the Rum Caramel Sauce
- 4 tbsp butter
- ½ cup white sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- ¼ cup heavy cream, at room temperature
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp dark rum
Make the Crusts
Pre-heat oven to 350°. Grease a 12 cup mini cheesecake pan.
Combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, granulated sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press onto the bottom of the cavities of the mini cheesecake pan.
Bake at 350° for 6-8 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Lower the oven temperature to 300º.
Make the Cheesecake
Using an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well with each addition.
In a small bowl, combine the flour with ¼ cup of the eggnog. Stir until the mixture is smooth and no clumps of flour remain. Add this mixture, along with the remaining eggnog, to the cheesecake mixture and blend until just combined. Add the rum, vanilla extract, and spices.
Divide the mixture evenly among the cavities of the mini cheesecake pan. Bake at 300º for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheesecakes are slightly puffy and no longer wobbly. Allow to cool completely, then refrigerate cheesecakes while still in the pan. When they are cold, remove from pan and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
Make the Rum Caramel Sauce
In a small sauce pan, melt the butter, sugar, and water over medium heat. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the mixture starts to bubble and turns amber.
Remove from heat and slowly add the cream (watch out for splatters!). Stir until smooth, then return to the heat. Continue to cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until the caramel thickens and turns deep amber.
Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract and rum. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Serve warm, or store in a glass jar and refrigerate until ready to use.