Holiday baking is one of the things I love to do with the kids as we get prepare for the holidays. I’m not what you would call handy in the kitchen but shortbread is something I can make and it is a holiday staple in our family. These Chocolate Dipped Walnut Shortbread Medallions I think will be gracing Santa’s plate this year if I can keep them out of the kids’ hands (and mine).
Cheesecake is another fairly simple treat I enjoy baking during the holidays. With three kids I often hear how one sibling seemed to get a larger piece than the other so bite size and individual options for cakes are wonderful; everyone gets their own whole cake.
As part of the California Walnuts Holiday Challenge being organized by Faye Clack, I thought I’d try making individual cheesecake with a walnut crust.
Individual Eggnog Cheesecakes with Walnut Graham Crust
1 cup graham crumbs
1 cup California Walnut Pieces, finely chopped
8 whole California Walnuts, shells removed
1/4 cup of butter, melted
3 250g packages of cream cheese, plain
3/4 cup of white sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
3/4 cup of eggnog
3/4 cup of semi-sweet milk chocolate chips
Makes about 9 mini cheesecakes
- Line nine medium sized muffin tins with liners. Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Mix graham crumbs and finely chopped walnut pieces together then mix with melted butter using a spoon to ensure crumbs are sticky. Scoop 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons into the bottom of each muffin tin liner and press down with your fingers. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer with a paddle, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla on medium until well blended. Turn the mixer to low and add each egg, one at a time, until just blended. Then gradually add the eggnog to the mix and blend. Scoop the mixture over the walnut and graham crumb crust in the muffin tins.
- Bake the cheesecake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the cheesecake is almost set.
- Remove from the oven and let cool before removing from muffin tin. Once cooled, set in the refrigerator for about 2 hours to set.
- Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave until soft but not melted (they will still look solid so you’ll have to check). Stir the warm chips until they are completely melted.
- Drop about a tablespoon of melted chocolate on the firm cheesecake center and using the back of the spoon, spread the chocolate around to make s circle in the center of the cake. Add half a walnut on top of the chocolate and put back into the refrigerator to firm for about 15 minutes.
Note: Although a complete half walnut was the look I wanted for the center of these cheesecakes, I just didn’t have the skills to remove an unbroken nut from the shell. Instead I used pieces.
I also prefer a thicker crust to my cheesecake so I ended up with leftover cheesecake filling beyond the nice I had prepared. You could serve these with festive muffin wrappers but they stand on their own too, eaten by end or with a fork.