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Gingerbread has quite a merry history – we’ve been playing with it for almost as long as we’ve been eating it!
Its earliest forms appeared in ancient Greece and Europe, where it was used in special ceremonies. However, things really took shape once it reached Western Europe – lots of shapes, in fact. From gingerbread birds and armor at medieval fairs to Hansel & Gretel inspiring the first gingerbread houses in Germany, this spicy sweet confection has always seemed to inspire creativity and comfort.
To celebrate the innovative spirit of this holiday classic, we love this recipe from Food52 that boldly pairs decadent white chocolate cheesecake made from Philadelphia cream cheese with a peppery gingersnap crust. It’s the perfect +1 (or +2, who’s looking?) to pair with your favorite holiday movie and a cup of hot cocoa.
Gingerbread Cheesecake Bars
3 ounces of gingersnap cookies
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
pinch of kosher salt
24 ounces (3 bricks) cream cheese, softened to room temp
4 large eggs
2 egg yolks
4 ounces white chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons molasses
1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grab nonstick spray and coat a 9-inch square baking pan, then line with parchment paper. Make sure excess paper drapes over the sides of the pan – this will come in handy to lift later!
2. Add the cookies to the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until finely chopped. Melt butter and pour onto the chopped cookies. Scoop out the cookie mixture, then press firmly into the bottom of your pan.
3. Mix 3 bricks of cream cheese in a stand mixer on medium-low until creamy.
4. Add sugar and salt, then mix to combine. Next, add the eggs and yolks one at a time. As you add, be sure to scrape any excess egg off the sides of the bowl into the rest of the mixture with a silicone spatula. Stir in melted chocolate, spices, lemon zest, molasses, and vanilla.
5. Pour the batter on top of the cookie crust in the prepared pan.
6. Place the pan in a larger baking dish. Pour 1 inch of very hot water into the larger dish around the cheesecake pan.
7. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes at 350° F. After that, bake for another 65 minutes at a lower temperature of 250° F. The batter should set around the edges with a slightly jiggly center.
8. Turn off the oven, prop the door ajar, and wait an hour for the cheesecake to cool. Then, take the cheesecake out of the oven and place in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours or overnight, Once chilled, remove from the pan and cut into bars
9. (Optional) Add mini gingerbread cookies or other festive toppings to the bars before serving.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy gingerbread? Share it with us in the comments!