Five years ago I tasted my first homemade cheesecake. My uncle (who went to culinary school) made a traditional New York style cheesecake while visiting from New York and allowed me to help. It was amazing to see the time and effort that went into making something so decadent and delicious. It tasted like perfection. Undoubtedly the best cheesecake I had ever tasted. After the last crumb of cheesecake disappeared, my hiatus from the cheesecake making world began. I have to admit that the thought of trying to caramelize sugar by myself after only watching it be done once was a little intimidating.
However, watching a cheesecake be made from scratch sparked a passion in me for the confectionery world. As my passion for baking began to grow and as I started to experiment with black beans while making brownies, adding flax seed to cookies, and used applesauce in several recipes, my confidence for attempting to make a version of cheesecake that is tasty, healthy, simple, and a celebration in itself started to grow as well (this confidence was most likely a little scary for my family as they are usually my taste-testers!!). However, after much testing, tasting, baking, and tweaking, this deliciousness came out of my oven…
I am a firm believer that desserts deserve to be spoken about in length. We eat desserts on holidays, at birthday parties, at work events and on other occasions that are special. Desserts are the capstone to a precious memory. The finale at the end of milestone, year, or celebration. Wedding cakes, birthday cakes, anniversary cakes…desserts bring something special to the party. This cheesecake with a gingersnap cookie crust says Christmas so deliciously that you’ll be thinking about a warm fire, Christmas lights, and snow boots with eat bite.
This cheesecake is delicious all by itself, but the toppings, in my opinion, add so much too! Oh Nuts was so generous and sent me a package of assorted chocolate almond jewels and some honey glazed pecans which made the perfect topping on such a decedent holiday dessert! They have lots of holiday packages, bulk nuts for holiday baking, and even organic and sugar free products too!
Recipe (Adapted/Healthily Modified from a culmination of cheesecake recipes from Cooks.com):
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9 inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Place the cookies (just a few at a time) into your food processor and grind into a sand like texture.
Transfer the cookie crumbs into a bowl and add the butter and sugar. Mix together and transfer to the springform pan. Press down the mixture to form an even layer crust on the bottom of the pan and bake for 10 minutes.
While the crust is baking, add the cream cheese, cottage cheese, egg beaters, pudding mix, sugar, vanilla, and protein powder to your blender and mix until the mixture is creamy and smooth.
Poor mixture over crust and bake for a total of 50-60 minutes (the cheesecake will look a little jiggly, but it will all set when cooled).
Let the cheesecake completely cool down and set in the refrigerator for 5 hours (or overnight).