Showstopper Eggnog Cheesecake
For the cheesecake crust:
In a medium bowl, stir together the ground cashews, graham crackers, and the 1/2 cup sugar. Drizzle the melted butter over the cashew mixture. Toss until mixed well. Press the cashew mixture onto the bottom and about 1-1/2 inches up the sides of a 10-inch springform pan. Wrap outside of the springform pan securely with heavy foil. Set aside.Advertisement
In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium-high speed 3 to 4 minutes or until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in 1 cup sugar, beating for 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture is completely smooth, scraping sides of bowl. Reduce speed to medium, beat in rum (if you like), vanilla, and nutmeg. Add eggs all at once; beat on low speed until just combined. Stir in eggnog.
Pour filling into crust-lined pan. Place springform pan in a large roasting pan. (Make sure theres at least 1 inch between the springform pan and the edges of the roasting pan.) Place roasting pan on oven rack. Carefully pour enough hot tap water into roasting pan to come halfway up side of springform pan.
Bake in 350 degree F oven 60 to 70 minutes or until edge of cheesecake is firm and center appears nearly set when lightly shaken. Carefully remove pan from water bath, transfer to a wire rack. Cool 15 minutes. Remove foil. Loosen crust from sides and cool 30 minutes. Remove sides of pan; cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 2 days. Garnish with cashew brittle, if you like.
To bake without the water bath:
Prepare cheesecake as above, except omit the foil; place the pan with filling in a shallow roasting pan. Bake without water bath 45 to 50 minutes or until center appears nearly set when shaken. Surface will have a more golden color than cheesecake baked in a water bath.