The day after Halloween I looked at all the leftover candy (I accidentally bought too much of all my favorites) and thought, “This is great! I will use these Almond Joys and mini Snickers in my Christmas cheesecakes.”
Imagine my surprise when I discovered the candy stash gone, pilfered right out of the drawer of my nightstand. Imagine my further surprise when I remembered I am the only one in the household with the combination to that drawer.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of confections — homemade, store-bought or online — available during the winter holiday season. I like adding candy to my cheesecake. Not because a classic cheesecake isn’t sweet and rich enough — but because it can always be richer and sweeter this time of year.
This double whammy cheesecake really should only be consumed during the months when you are wearing your winter coat.
The best candy to augment your cheesecake is, hands down, Almond Roca, or any hard English toffee. Because the Roca is available and on sale right now, that’s where I would go — directly to the familiar pink can featured on the end-cap of every grocery aisle, right next to the “As Seen on TV” items and the Jagermeister. (I know. Basically, why venture farther?)
Do not use the peppermint or any other flavored Roca — stick with the little foil offerings enjoyed by our ancestors.
True, this may be breaking with tradition — the stand-alone cheesecake prepared by our parents and grandparents — but, face it, they were just not as evolved as we are now. Plus the candy add-ins would have really complicated matters.
Remember, in those days they had to milk the cows to make the cheese for the filling and mill the flour for the graham cracker crust and then walk ten miles with newspaper in their holey shoes to find a communal oven. Wow Pop! Those stories never get old. Please, have a slice of Almond Roca cheesecake — make it two.
Almond Roca cheesecake
Graham cracker and Roca crust:
1 3/4 cups finely crushed graham crackers
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup chopped Almond Roca candy
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened.
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup milk
1 / 4 cup chopped Almond Roca candy
For the crust, stir together crushed graham crackers, walnuts, and cinnamon in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in butter. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and about 2 inches up sides of an 8- or 9-inch spring-form pan. Sprinkle chopped Roca on top of crust bottom; set aside.
Now for the filling. First, pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, flour, vanilla, and lemon peel; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Add whole eggs and egg yolk all at once, beating on low speed just until combined (do not overbeat).
Stir in milk. Pour filling into crust-lined pan and top with chopped candy. Place on a cookie sheet and bake in a for 45 to 50 minutes for 8-inch pan, 35 to 40 minutes for 9-inch pan, or until center appears nearly set when shaken gently.
Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Use a sharp, thin-bladed knife to loosen the crust from the sides of the pan; cool for another 30 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan; cool cheesecake completely. Cover and chill at least 4 hours before serving.
Simone Grandmain is an internationally published travel and food writer who currently calls Truckee-Tahoe home. She welcomes your recipes, kitchen “must-haves” and food news at firstname.lastname@example.org.