All month long I’m going to be hosting the posts of other people as part of my 2015 Giftmas Blog Tour. All the guest bloggers are welcome to write about anything they’d like so long as their post touched on a December holiday in some way, no matter how tangentially. The blog tour extends beyond my blog as well, and I will do my best to link to each external post from the here and share them on social media using the hashtag #GiftmasTour.
But wait! There’s more!
We’re also giving away a whole whack of prizes (check out the list here) which you can enter to win using the Rafflecoper code below. Whatever December holiday you celebrate (or don’t) winning a stack of books will make it better!
Fergus the Wonderdog’s Cheesecake
by E.C. Bell
I love baking, especially in winter. I bake cookies, mincemeat pies (really), Christmas cakes (really!), and often, for the Christmas meal, I bake a cheesecake.
This recipe comes from a recipe book my Mom used (a lot) while we were growing up. I didn’t even realize it was fairly complicated until I checked out other recipes online, but it is still one of the best tasting cheesecakes I’ve found.
Fergus the Wonderdog’s Cheesecake
1 (6oz) package zwieback (graham crackers to most people)
1/4 c soft butter
1 c plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 pound cream cheese
1 cup light cream
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
I use cherry pie filling, with a touch of grated lemon rind warmed into it. Cranberry sauce is good, too.
Roll or grind the zwieback. Mix with the soft butter, 2 tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon. Grease a 10×21/2 inch spring form pan generously with the butter and pat the crumb mixture on the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
Soften the cream cheese and stir in the cream, add the remaining sugar which has been mixed with flour and salt. Beat egg yolks until thick and light. Fold these in carefully and flavour with vanilla and lemon rind. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks and fold in. Pour into the crust.
Bake in a moderately slow oven, 325 degrees, for an hour, and then leave in the oven another hour with heat off. Cool thoroughly, but under no circumstances place it on the frozen water barrel outside your back door in the middle of winter to hurry the cooling process.
Once it is cooled, top with your favourite berry topping, and enjoy!
Okay, now the story.
It was Christmas Eve, 1983, and I had this dog, see? (Do you know how many of my stories start this way?) Fergus was a red boned hound that we got from the SPCA the year before, and he was a wonderful dog. (That wasn’t why we called him Fergus the Wonderdog, though. We called him that because he’d managed to live through a bout of Parvo he came down with one month after we got him. But that’s another story.)
Since we lived on a farm, he was mostly an outside dog. (We let him sleep inside most winter nights, but the rest of the time he spent in the great outdoors.) So, Fergus was outside, and I was prepping the dessert for the Bell family Christmas Eve meal, traditionally held at my parent’s house.
I had decided to make cheesecake, from a recipe I’d found in Mom’s best cook book. It was the first time I’d ever tried the recipe, and of course I didn’t read the whole thing before I started. I nearly lost it when I realized I was supposed to let it cool for at least two hours before plating. I had barely an hour before we had to leave.
So… I set the cheesecake outside, on the ice-filled water barrel by our back door, to cool it quickly. It was really cold that year, and I figured that just a few minutes would do the trick.
Five minutes later, I opened the door to check and caught Fergus, up on his hind legs, leaning against the water barrel. Steam billowed from his cheesecake-covered muzzle. The remains of my beautiful cheesecake was a white volcanic eruption in a spring form pan between his front paws. He smiled as only a dog can smile, then blinked twice and broke for safer ground when I started to yell.
I don’t remember what I took to replace the cheesecake at the family Christmas Eve meal, but the story more than made up for the lack of dessert. And from that moment on, this has been known as Fergus the Wonderdog’s cheesecake.
Bio: Eileen (E.C.) Bell’s debut paranormal mystery novel Seeing the Light (2014) won the BPAA award for Best Speculative Fiction Book of the Year, and was shortlisted for the Bony Blythe Award for Light Mystery. The second book in the series, Drowning in Amber, was released into the wild at the end of October, 2015. Her short fiction includes the Aurora Award winning Women of the Apocalypse and The Puzzle Box. When she’s not writing, she’s living a fine life in her round house with her husband and two dogs.
Giftmas 2015 Giveaway: