The flavours of gingerbread instantly remind me of the festive season. While gingerbread houses (or even Gingerbread Ovens) might be traditional, why not put a spin on your classic gingerbread by turning it into these Gingerbread Cheesecake Squares?
Funnily enough this recipe was the result of a bit of gingerbread dough that I left too long in the fridge. As I began to knead it between my hands to warm up, it just crumbled away into pieces. It was at this point that I thought it resembled a shortbread mixture rather than gingerbread biscuit dough and immediately I had the idea to crumble it into the base of a tin, bake it and pour over some cheesecake mixture to make little squares.
This recipe is also perfect for making cutout gingerbread biscuits and gingerbread houses. You will only need to chill the dough for 20 – 30 minutes instead of hours in this case. The longer chilling ‘dries’ out the dough, making it crumbly and impossible to roll out but making it ideal for these cheesecake squares. This means you can also make the dough ahead of time!
To add a decorative element, I remove some of the cheesecake mixture and add food colouring to it. This small amount of mixture requires just a single egg yolk. The addition of yellow colouring emphasises the egg yolk colour and helps to create an attractive design. The mixture is too fluid to swirl properly but it doesn’t bleed and run either, allowing you to create a random pattern on the surface.
The backdrops used in these photos was the Farmhouse backdrop from Backdrops By Lucy – read my review of their product by clicking here!
For the Gingerbread Base:
100g granulated sugar
50g golden syrup
300g plain flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
For the Cheesecake mixture:
250g cream cheese
75g granulated sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp mixed spice
1 tbsp plain flour
Pinch of ground nutmeg
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, 1 egg separated
Yellow food colouring
In a pan over a medium heat, melt the margarine, sugar and syrup until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is even. Remove the pan from the heat, leave to sit for 1 minute before adding the pre-weighed and measured dried ingredients into the pan and stirring until it forms a dough which is aromatic and fragrant, soft but not sticky and a deep brown colour.
On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc and wrap well in clingfilm. Freeze for 2 hours until very firm and then leave in the fridge overnight or up to 2 days.
When you are ready to make the cheesecake squares, preheat the oven to 190°C. Take a square of baking parchment larger than a 20cm square tin. Grease the tin and flip it over. Fold the parchment into 4 and place the point of the square at the centre of the bottom of the pan and cut from the corner inwards until you feel the pan. Open up, push into the tin and it should line the tin perfectly.
Take the dough from the fridge and crumble it up into a mixing bowl. The pieces should all be various sizes, ranging from large chunks to small pieces to fine crumbs. Pour the mixture into the lined tin and use your hand to press the gingerbread into a single layer, pressing right into the corners until even.
Prick the surface of the gingerbread with a fork and bake for around 20 – 30 minutes or until the base is set on the surface and golden around the edges. Leave to cool completely.
Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C.
Prepare the cheesecake by beating together the cream cheese and sugar by hand until smooth. Sift over the dry ingredients and fold to incorporate. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Remove about 50g of the mixture and place into a separate smaller bowl. To the larger bowl, add the whole egg plus 1 egg white and beat to combine until even. To the smaller bowl, add the egg yolk and some food colouring to make it a vibrant yellow colour.
Pour the non-coloured cheesecake mixture over the cooled gingerbread base. It should be fairly liquid and it may run down the sides of the gingerbread base slightly too – this is to be expected. Slowly spoon over the yellow cheesecake mixture randomly so it creates a nice pattern.
Bake the cheesecake for about 25 minutes or until the surface is lightly browned, golden at the edges and wobbles just slightly in the very centre. Leave the cheesecake to cool fully in the tin before slicing into 16 squares.
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