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Wednesday

April 2014

16

Mooove over eggnog

We're having a little fun here at Lake Country Publications with the "The 12 days of Christmas" lyrics. Everyone is getting a chance to put their spin on a day, and as the Cook's Corner columnist, I was assigned "eight maids a'milking." What better way to showcase the day than with a couple of festive recipes?

This first recipe takes the holiday favorite eggnog and transforms it to decadent dessert. It comes from Elizabeth Colling, who's Jewish, and didn't celebrate Christmas, but said the tasty concoction was everywhere during the holidays and that she loved the taste of eggnog so much she decided to transform it into a dessert.

Eggnog Cheesecake Bars

Ingredients

12 graham crackers, finely ground (about 1½ cups)

¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 pound cream cheese, room temperature

2 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

¾ cup eggnog

1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon brandy

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for dusting

¼ teaspoon salt

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Stir together graham crackers, 3 tablespoons of sugar, and the melted butter. Press intobottom of pan. Bake until crust is just brown around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool.

While the crust is baking, beat the cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining ¾ cup sugar, the eggs, yolk, eggnog, flour, brandy, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt and beat until smooth. Pour the filling over the crust and set the pan in a roasting pan. At this point you'll want to place the pan in the oven, then add enough hot water to come halfway up sides of baking pan. Bake until just set, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove baking pan from water bath, and transfer to a wire rack. Let cool slightly, about 30 minutes then refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. Cut into 1½-by-3-inch bars. Lightly dust tops of bars with freshly grated nutmeg just before serving.

Note that you'll want to add the water once the pan is in the oven to avoid getting water in the bars or they won't set properly.

This next recipe is also a twist on the classic eggnog, but for grownups and kids alike. It takes a little bit of work (it comes from Martha Stewart, after all), but the outcome is well worth it.

Peppermint eggnog

Ingredients

6 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

½ cup sugar

2 tablespoons more sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pure peppermint extract

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

4 cups whole milk

12 peppermint candy canes, broken into pieces

3 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped

½ cup heavy cream

Peppermint sticks, for garnish

Preparation

Prepare an ice-water bath and set aside. Whisk together eggs, egg yolks, sugar, salt and the extracts in large saucepan over medium-low heat until combined. Pour milk in a slow, steady stream, whisking until fully incorporated. Raise heat to medium and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon - 30 to 35 minutes.

Pour milk mixture through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Set bowl in ice-water bath and let mixture cool completely. Transfer custard to an airtight container, and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

Process candy canes in a food processor until finely crushed, then sift in a strainer to discard dust and transfer to a shallow dish.

Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Let cool 5 minutes, then dip rim of each cup into the melted chocolate, then the crushed peppermint. Refrigerate until set, about 5 minutes.

Remove the custard from the refrigerator and set aside. Put cream into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and mix on medium speed until stiff peaks form, then fold into the cold custard until combined. Fill the cups with the eggnog mixture, sprinkle with crushed peppermint, garnish with peppermint sticks and serve.

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