Christmas Party

We hosted a Christmas party this weekend. We did hors d’oeuvres and drinks and kept it pretty casual. Here’s the menu:

Hot Apple Cider
Spinach and Artichoke Dip with pita chips
Traditional Cheese Fondue
Panko Crusted Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce
Barbequed Meatballs
Crudite Platter
Fruit Tray
White & Red Wine
Raspberry Cheesecake

One thing I have learned from entertaining for large gatherings is to take help from the store when needed. The panko crusted shrimp were frozen and I made the cocktail sauce to give the appetizer a homemade taste. I also used meatballs from my grocers freezer and added barbeque sauce to them while they heated in the slow cooker. The cheese fondue was by far the favorite and rivaled that of something you would enjoy at a fondue restaurant. And the pièce de résistance was the raspberry cheesecake!

Traditional Cheese Fondue

Recipe Courtesy of Central Market – Dallas, Texas

8 oz. Gruyere cheese, cubed
8 oz. Swiss Emmenthal, cubed
1/4 cup white wine
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/8 cup Kirsch (optional)

Rub the interior of a medium saucepan with the minced garlic and place on a burner set on low heat. Add 1/3 of the cheese to the saucepan and stir, allowing it to melt slowly (5-10 minutes). Gradually work in the remaining cheese and continue stirring until completely melted. Add the white wine and the Kirsch (if desired). Stir to a smooth consistency. Transfer to a fondue pot set on low. Serve with cubed baguette bread, sliced apples and sliced pears.

Raspberry Cheesecake

Recipe Courtesy of Ina Garten

For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 5 whole extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the topping:

  • 1 cup red jelly (not jam), such as currant, raspberry, or strawberry
  • 3 half-pints fresh raspberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the crust, combine the graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter until moistened. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. With your hands, press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about 1-inch up the sides. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F.

To make the filling, cream the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs and egg yolks, 2 at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the bowl and beater, as necessary. With the mixer on low, add the sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly and pour into the cooled crust.

Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 225 degrees F and bake for another 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn the oven off and open the door wide. The cake will not be completely set in the center. Allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door open for 30 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to sit at room temperature for another 2 to 3 hours, until completely cooled. Wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the cake from the springform pan by carefully running a hot knife around the outside of the cake. Leave the cake on the bottom of the springform pan for serving.

To make the topping, melt the jelly in a small pan over low heat. In a bowl, toss the raspberries and the warm jelly gently until well mixed. Arrange the berries on top of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes: Although this recipe assured me that my cheesecake wouldn’t crack, it did. I am guessing it may have been the altitude. Next time, I will put a 9×13 pan of hot water underneath the cheesecake to prevent cracking. I also put the springform pan on a sheet pan before putting it in the oven to catch any leaks.

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