Baked Eggnog Cheesecake—Prototype 28:
 
In keeping with my "post-COVID" simplifications, I decided that the "cheese base" would consist of just one, whole 16-ounce container of cottage cheese. This would be combined with an easy, 8-ounce package of Neufchatel cheese. I omitted the nutmeg as well (so I was now fully relying on the eggnog beverage itself for the eggnog flavor). The cheese changes, plus xanthan gum problems with the previous eggnog prototype, led me to greatly slash the usage of that stabilizer here.
 
Eggnog Concentrate:
Place 2 cups of eggnog into the upper pot of a double-boiler. Very slowly heat the contents (this can, and probably should, be done on the lowest burner setting—more importantly, try to get the eggnog's temperature to settle between 165 and 180 degrees during this process). Stir often, cooking this eggnog until it is almost down to about 1/3 to 1/4 of its initial weight. Then let this cool off (at least a little). Tip: Prepare this concentrate ahead of time. The evaporation process can take about 7 to 8 hours, depending on the amount of heat applied. Allow the concentrate to cool down afterwards, then refrigerate until ready for use.

Batter:
16 oz. (about 2 cups) whipped, lowfat cottage cheese
8 oz. softened Neufchatel cheese ("light cream cheese")
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Eggnog concentrate (see above)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
3 eggs

Place into greased 13" x 9" glass ("Pyrex") pan, and bake in tub at 300 degrees for 90 minutes. Shut off oven afterwards, leaving door slightly ajar, for 60 minutes. Next, remove pan containing cheesecake from tub and oven, and let cool at room temperature for 120 minutes, then (with cheesecake still in pan) refrigerate.

Eggnog Cheesecake—Prototype 28

Despite the great reduction in the xanthan gum used this time around, it was still a big challenge to get this stabilizer fully blended in—although not as tough as it was in the previous eggnog prototype. And the texture turned out to be quite firm. Still, I felt that it was somehow too rubbery (which moved me to plan a great reduction in xanthan gum for next time—perhaps 1/2 teaspoon, tops).

This eggnog cheesecake was a "belated" (mainly because of COVID-19) birthday gift for Lesa. In addition to her and her now-husband Steve enjoying it, this one was well-received by others at the Spear Post in Beverly during a darts event around mid-October of 2021 (D.R.S., Lesa and Steve's dart team, relocated there for this fall 2021 season, and I was particularly happy about this venue going "smoke-free").

I should also mention here the excellent ability for Oakhurst Dairy's light eggnog to freeze well. I purchased a quart of this product late last year with a December "sell by" date and promptly put it away in the freezer. I thawed it out nearly 10 months later for usage in this latest prototype—and could still safely consume the beverage directly. (I was hoping to use the eggnog in August of this year, that month marking Lesa's birthday, but COVID-19 led to the delay. The eggnog cheesecake presented here ended up being my third baked cheesecake "this side of COVID".)
 

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