Crust: In a medium bowl, stir together ground cashews, crushed graham crackers
and then sugar. Drizzle the melted butter over the cashew mixture. Toss until mixed
well. Press the cashew mixture onto the bottom and about 1 1/2 inches up the sides
of a10-inch springform pan. Wrap the outside of the springform pan securely with
heavy foil. Set aside.
Filling: In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer
on medium-high speed for 3 to 4 minutes or until light and fluffy. Gradually beat
in the 1 cup sugar for 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture is completely smooth, scraping
the sides of the bowl. Reduce speed to medium, beat in rum (if desired), vanilla
extract and nutmeg. Add eggs all at once; beat on low speed just until combined.
Stir in eggnog.
Pour filling into crust-line pan. Place springform pan in a large roasting pan*.
(Make sure there is at least 1 inch between springform pan and edges of roasting
pan.) Place roasting pan in oven rack. Carefully pour enough hot tap water into
roasting pan to come halfway up sides of springform pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 60 to 70 minutes or until edge of cheesecake is firm
and center appears nearly set when lightly shaken.
Carefully remove cheesecake pan from water bath; transfer to a wire rack and
cool for 15 minutes.
Remove foil. Loosen crust from sides of pan and cool 30 minutes more.
Remove sides of pan and cool completely. Cover cheesecake with plastic wrap and
refrigerate overnight (or store in refrigerator for up to 2 days).
To serve, cut into wedges and sprinkle each with nut brittle, if desired.
To bake cheesecake without a water bath, prepare cheesecake as above, except
omit wrapping pan with foil. Place springform pan with filling in a shallow baking
pan. Bake without water bath for 45 to 50 minutes or until center appears nearly
set when shaken. The cheesecake's surface will have a more golden color.
Nutrition facts per serving: 450 cal, 34 g fat, 118 mg chol, 288 mg sodium,
31 g carbo, 0 g fiber, 8 g pro