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Start Planning Christmas Desserts with Cheesecake

Tackling cheesecake can be intimidating, but it shouldn't be. If you will follow the instructions carefully, you too will bake an impressive cheesecake


Thanksgiving has come and gone and now it is time to start planning your Christmas desserts. There are the traditional desserts, pumpkin, sweet potato and cream pies, but there are also those more decadent desserts such as Italian Cream Cake, Red Velvet Cake, and my favorite, cheesecake.

Cheesecake is definitely decadent with its rich, creamy, satin smooth texture that practically melts in your mouth. No wonder it is one of the best-loved desserts.

Tackling cheesecake can be intimating, but it shouldn’t be. If you will follow the instructions carefully, you too will bake an impressive cheesecake.

One of the most important aspects of making a cheesecake is preparation. Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature. This assures a smoother texture.

Begin by combining the cream cheese or ricotta and eggs thoroughly before adding any liquid extracts, heavy cream or sour cream. Once the liquid ingredients that thin the batter are added, lumps are almost impossible to remove.

The paddle attachment of an electric mixer is ideal for mixing the batter. If you do not have a paddle attachment, use regular beaters at low or medium-low speeds. Be careful to not mix too much air into the batter. Too much air results in cracks in the finished cake and a less creamy texture.

One important ingredient is the cream cheese. Always use regular cream cheese for cheesecakes, unless the recipe specifies otherwise.

The base or crust is usually made of a mixture of cookie crumbs and softened or melted butter or margarine. Although many recipes call for graham cracker crumbs, almost any cookie will do.

Now that you have your filling and crust, spoon the filling into the prepared spring form pan with a spoon or rubber spatula. This will allow the ingredients to maintain their texture and volume.

There are times when cracks will still appear in your cheesecake. Accept them as part of a cheesecake’s home-baked charm. If this happens, just add a topping to it and you will be the only one who knows. 

Extreme temperature changes can lead to surface cracks. That is why baking temperatures for cheesecakes are relatively low; and bakers are often warned not to set cheesecakes in a cold or drafty place to cool. If possible, cool the cheesecake in an oven which has been turned off. Use a wooden spoon to keep the oven slightly ajar.

Sometimes deep cracks in your cheesecake mean that the egg structure has collapsed. This will result in a cheesecake that will be wet, more like a pudding than a cake.

A slice of home baked cheesecake is one of life’s simple pleasures. Bake one for your holiday gathering.

If you will follow the above mentioned tips, you should produce perfect results each time.  For more information or questions, contact me at the University of Arkansas Division of AG, Miller County at 870-779-3609, or e-mail me at

This recipe for one of my favorites, Scrumptious Turtle Cheesecake, and is so good you need to make two just so you can get a slice! This is one of those sometime foods you probably shouldn’t eat every day.

Scrumptious Turtle Cheesecake

1 3/4 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs

1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cup (9 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons chocolate flavor syrup

4 tablespoons caramel syrup or ice cream topping

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup mini semi-sweet mini morsels


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch springform pan. To make the crust, mix crumbs and butter in a medium bowl. Press on to the bottom and 1 inch up the side of the springform pan.

For the filling, beat cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk in large mixer bowl until smooth. Add sugar, eggs, lemon juice and vanilla extract; beat just until combined. Melt 1 1/2 cup chocolate chips in microwave until melted. Chips may retain some of their shape.  Remove 2 cups of the cheesecake batter and stir it into the melted chocolate chips.  Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the caramel sauce over bottom of the crust. Alternately spoon cream cheese batter and chocolate batter into the crust, beginning and ending with the cream cheese batter.

Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the edge is set and the center moves slightly. Cool in the pan on a wire rack, or in the oven with the door slightly ajar. Run knife around the edge of cheesecake. Once completely cooled, add your toppings. Drizzle chocolate and caramel syrup over the cheesecake. Sprinkle with pecans and mini-chocolate chips. Refrigerate overnight or for several hours to allow the flavors to meld together. Remove the side of the springform pan.

By Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
(870) 779-3609


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