A Holiday Dessert Favourite... With a Twist December 07 2012

Let us eat, drink, and... eat some more. Everyone loves to eat at holiday time. Maybe we’re trying to feel warm inside, maybe eating is what we do when we get together as a family... maybe we’re just out of ideas for other things to do. Whatever the reason, you can be sure that eating is something you’ll be doing a lot of over the next little while. Let’s make this the most delicious holiday season yet, starting with dessert.

When I think holiday desserts, I think cheesecake.  It’s so festive, and it’s what my family always ate for dessert when we hosted a holiday party. Plus, let’s face it, any reason to eat cheesecake is a good one. It’s probably my all-time fav dessert item. There are so many different varieties, and there is not one that I don’t like. The one I’m most used to has a graham cracker crust, a sweet, dense, cream cheese filling, and a fruit topping. Nothing wrong with that. But why not try something new?That’s why I’m making almond cheesecake squares with balsamic glaze this holiday season.


This version of cheesecake stars an almond flavour, and its role is a triple threat: a crust of sweet almond amaretti cookies (I like the mini Amarettini di Sarrono cookies, at La Bottega), a creamy filling flavoured with almond extract, and a crunchy toasted almond topping. The balsamic glaze is unexpected, yet seems right at home with the tangy cream cheese filling (with super special guest goat cheese) and almond flavours. Have fun with this modern classic, and who knows? Maybe you’ll start a new holiday tradition.


This holiday season, do something different with these almond cheesecake squares with balsamic glaze. Then use the leftover amaretti cookies to dip in your morning latte... or crumble onto some ice cream or frozen yogurt for a satisfying crunch. The possibilities are endless with this versatile cookie. Happy holidays, and buon appetito!


Almond Cheesecake Squares with Balsamic Glaze

Ingredients:

-1 ¼ cups amaretti cookie crumbs (I just pulsed the cookies in a food processor)

-3 tbsp melted butter

-3 packages (8 oz/250 g each) cream cheese, softened

-8 oz/250 g goat cheese, softened

-3/4 cup sugar

-1 tsp pure vanilla extract

-1 tsp pure almond extract

-4 eggs

-1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

-1 cup sliced almonds

-1 cup balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325° F. Combine cookie crumbs and butter. Press onto the bottom of a foil-lined 9x13-inch baking pan.

Beat cream cheese, goat cheese, sugar, vanilla extract, and almond extract until combined. Add eggs one at a time, ensuring that each is combined before adding the next one. Fold in sour cream or yogurt. Spread evenly over cookie crumb crust. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake at 325° F. for about 40-45 minutes, until cheesecake is mostly set. Let cool.

In the meantime, make the glaze. In a small saucepan, bring vinegar to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until syrupy, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Drizzle the cheesecake with the balsamic glaze in a decorative pattern. Refrigerate about 4-6 hours or overnight. Cut into squares.


Lindsay (@Modern_Hostess) is a self-taught chef who has a passion for hosting. In her culinary experiments and musings, she shows that beautiful, flavourful homemade dishes are within everyone’s reach... as long as quality ingredients are used to prepare them. Join her as she peruses the fabulous inventory of La Bottega, and provides tasty ideas for enjoying their finest products.

-Follow me on Twitter! @Modern_Hostess