Chai is one of my favorite flavors. The spices always remind me of Christmas and warmth. I always love a good chai latte on a cold wintery day. To get that chai flavor, you simply combine certain baking spices, so you will not find “Chai Spice” in the grocery store.
Pumpkin and maple tend to be holiday staple flavors, but why not mix it up. Everything does not have to be pumpkin or maple… Surprise your friends with something different. The chai spices work so well with cheesecake, since the cream cheese mellows out the spice and brings a tangy sweetness that pairs beautifully.
Another perk about cheesecake is that the filling usually is gluten free. The graham cracker crust obviously has flour in it, so for this recipe I decided to go 100% gluten free and make an almond crust. The almond crust is the exact same procedure as making a graham cracker crust: grind almonds, add sugar, add butter, and press into the pan… easy!
This is an amazing do ahead dessert because it freezes and refrigerates perfectly. This is always good during the busy holiday season!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8 inch spring form pan.
– 1 package of 8-10 ounces of blanched almonds
– 4 tablespoons of butter (melted)
– 1 tablespoon sugar
In the food processor, grind the almonds until it looks like sand. Pour into a medium sized bowl and mix in the sugar. Then add the butter and mix, until it looks like wet sand. Press into the bottom of the spring form pan.
Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool and then start on the cheesecake.
– 3 packages of 8 ounce cream cheese (softened)
– 1 ½ cup sugar
– 4 eggs
– 1 tablespoon lemon juice
– 2 tablespoons Saigon cinnamon
– 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
– ½ tablespoon ground ginger
– ½ tablespoon ground clove
Turn the heat down to 300 degrees and fill a large roasting pan or large Pyrex dish with water and place it on a rack at the bottom of the oven. The steam from this will help the cheesecake cook evenly and not crack on the top.
Combine the cream cheese and sugar in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer in a large bowl. Beat until light and fluffy (about 5-10 minutes). Add one egg at a time; make sure the scrape the sides of the bowl periodically. Add lemon juice and spices and combine. The spice amount is what I love, but if you like more or less; change the amount to your liking.
Pour into the spring form pan over the almond crust and place in the middle of the oven.
Bake for 1 ½ hours – 2 hours. The sides should be slightly raised, but the middle should be a tad bit wiggly. Let set out for 4 hours or in the refrigerator overnight to set.
Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and dust with pumpkin pie spice for a beautiful presentation.