Cardamom is a flavor of Christmas popular in Scandinavian counties. According to cookbook author Diana Henry in Roast Figs Sugar Snow: Winter Food to Warm the Soul (Mitchell Beazley, $19.99), the flavor of cardamom is dominant in a lot of Danish baking. It is also used to flavor glogg, or mulled wine, and Scandinavian pepparkakor, the Christmas cookie.
Cardamom Cheesecake Bars offer the flavor of cheesecake, the delicate taste of cardamom, and almond streusel topping, all wrapped into one easy bar cookie.
For the bars:
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Streusel Topping:
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup quick oats
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup sliced almonds
To make cheesecake bars: Mix crumbs and butter. Press firmly into bottom of foil-lined 9-inch square pan. Beat cream cheese, sugar, cardamom, and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended and smooth. Add eggs; beat just until blended. Pour over crust.
To make Streusel Topping: Mix flour, quick oats, light brown sugar in small bowl. Stir in cardamom. Cut in butter until coarse crumbs form. Stir in sliced almonds.
Sprinkle Streusel Topping evenly over cheesecake mixture.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 45 minutes or until center is almost set and topping is golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Cut into bars. Store leftover bars in refrigerator.
Yield: 24 bars
Source: McCormick spice company
Gingerbread houses in various themes, shapes, and sizes continue to be on display today from noon to 5 p.m. at The Blade Kris Kringle Village at the Erie Street Market. A Penta Career Center Gingerbread House Display has more than 40 creations by high school junior students in the culinary program taught by Chef Jim Rhegness. Vote for your favorite house. There also will be a holiday cookie decoration station presented by Penta Career Center. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children under 12, and children under 2 are free.
The annual Holiday Melting Pot Gala Fund-raiser will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 4 at the Wood County Historical Center and Museum southeast of Bowling Green at 13660 County Home Rd.
Ethnic foods featured will be European cuisine from Naslada Bistro; Lebanese dishes from South Side Six; Mexican flavors from Gloria Enriquez Pizana and Marsha Olivarez of Bowling Green State University; British traditions from Steven A. Black of Call of the Canyon; Filipino-inspired food from Marilyn Gottschalk, Korean fare from Koreana, and Italian tastes from Brad East.
An array of international desserts and a melting pot of fondue will be provided courtesy of the Wood County Historical Society, museum staff, and the BGSU Asian Studies Program.
Funds raised at the event support local history and educational learning for local children. Tickets are $20 and include a self-guided museum tour, entrance to the silent auction, and a sampling of ethnic foods. Advanced reservations are encouraged. Call 419-352-0967.
•The Ohio Wine Producers Association has announced Vines and Wines and Capital City Trails special event weekends in December. In Northeast Ohio it is known as the Tannenbaum Trail event, and in central Ohio it is the Deck the Tree Trail. These are self-driving tours held on three weekends from noon to 6 p.m. at participating wineries. Dates are Dec. 4-5; Dec. 11-12, and Dec. 18-19. Cost is $45 per couple and $35 per single. Call 800-227-6972 to register.
For information, visit ohiowines.org.
•If you find yourself in New Orleans in December, look for Christmas New Orleans-style with St. Louis Cathedral concerts and new Reveillon menus and cooking demonstrations. Local chefs will share recipes at free cooking demonstrations with samplings. The chef's holiday cooking demonstrations take place at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre at 1 p.m. weekdays Dec. 2-3, Dec. 8-11, Dec. 15-18, and Dec. 22-23. For information, visit neworleansonline.com or call 504-522-5730.
Kathie Smith is The Blade's food editor.
Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org