This year I’ve been craving a quiet Christmas. Just a little time to celebrate our blessings in the darkest days of winter. No elaborate craft projects (just one little upcycling sewing project–but I won’t spoil the surprise for the recipient just yet!), no week-long baking frenzy (just a couple of batches of simple cookies so far), no last-minute dash to the mall. I even did all the holiday grocery shopping on Thursday so we don’t have to fight the crowds over the weekend.
What is on the agenda? The Hub and I still need to have our annual late-night gift wrapping session. The kids are looking forward to decorating cookies today. I’m baking up some fragrant gingersnaps so we can pipe designs on them with white glacé icing. (Cookie cutters and multicolored icing are too much for me this year.) I plan to do a little more cleaning–if I’m going to be home all week, I want to enjoy a clean house–and prep a few meals ahead of time. No doubt there will be more cooks than the kitchen can hold on Christmas Day, so I plan to make my contributions early, set the table, and then sneak out of the kitchen to go help assemble some Legos and play with the Christmas toys.
We do have one holiday party to attend, and so last night after the kids went to bed I baked. With the help of my mom and her Gourmet magazine index, I resurrected an old recipe for a blue cheese cheesecake that will make you cry, it’s so good. It comes from the Hub’s well-worn October 1990 issue of Gourmet, and I had never baked it before. It’s impossibly rich, so save this one for a crowd, or you’ll find yourself huddled in a cream-induced coma under the kitchen table. I think you could also halve the recipe and serve thin slices as a first course with bread and a little green salad.
Blue Cheese Cheesecake
adapted slightly from Gourmet
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 fine dry breadcrumbs
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 pound blue cheese, crumbled
three 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened and cut into chunks
4 large eggs
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Combine the Parmesan and bread crumbs in a small bowl. Butter a 10-inch springform pan very well, and coat the inside of the pan with the mixture, shaking out the excess. (If you only have a 9-inch pan, you will have extra batter. Do not be tempted to cram it all in the smaller pan–you’ll be setting off the smoke detector and scrubbing out the oven. Pour the excess into a small baking dish or some ramekins and try not to eat it all yourself.) Scald the cream in a saucepan (bring it to a simmer and then turn off the heat). In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the blue cheese with 1/4 cup of the hot cream until the mixture is smooth. Add half the cream cheese and 1 cup of cream and beat again until smooth. Finally, beat in the remainder of the cream cheese and cream and beat until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Pour the batter into the prepared pan (no more than 2/3 full) and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Bake the cheesecake in the bottom third of the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the center is just set and the top is golden brown. The cheesecake may be puffed up like a soufflé when you take it out of the oven, but it will sink as it cools.
Let the cheesecake cool completely in the pan on a rack. You can make it ahead, and cover and refrigerate it overnight.
Run a thin spatula or knife around the edge, unmold and serve sliced very thin or as a spread on crackers or toast points as an hors d’oeuvre.