in the kitchen

in the kitchen

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Mini Cheesecakes

Who doesn't like "mini" things? These cheesecakes are mini in size but big in flavor, appeal and time savings. They cook in a fraction of the time a regular cheesecake takes and are already portion controlled...I mean, what could be better? I bought a specialty pan with removable bottoms (Norpro 3919, $20) from Amazon, made some of these bad boys and then bought another pan because I could see how often these will be just the ticket. Take a look at the Hints section for the Holiday version: Eggnog (Oh Yeah!) and also a chocolate hazelnut flavor link at the end. WooHoo!!
Mini Cheesecakes with Strawberry Topping
5 1/2 full graham crackers (the full crackers are usually scored into 4 parts)
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
Spray the cavities of the mini cheesecake pan with coconut oil or veggie oil.  Process crackers in food processor until very fine crumb. Mix in sugar then butter. Place 2 teaspoons of mixture in each compartment and press down firmly. Set aside.

8 ounces Greek yogurt cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon citrus zest (orange, lemon, grapefruit etc.)
1 egg yolk
With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese for 1 to 2 minutes. Add in sugar, salt and corn starch beating until well blended. Reduce mixer speed and pour in half and half slowly and beat until batter is smooth. Blend in vanilla and citrus zest. Finally, add the egg yolk and mix just until incorporated. Spoon batter onto crusts, filling cavities 2/3 to 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 17-19 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in the pan for an hour then push the cakes out from the bottom and remove the pan bottom disks from the cheese cakes. Chill in a air tight container for at least another hour.

3/4 cup finely diced fresh strawberries
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup sweetened whipped cream
Mix all ingredients but the cream together and macerate for 1 hour or more. To serve, place 1 teaspoon of whipped cream on cheesecake and top with about 1-2 teaspoon of strawberry mixture.
Hints: I like using Greek cream cheese but this would work the same with regular cream cheese. I used the orange zest because the strawberries had orange flavor. Lemon or lime or grapefruit would be awesome. The pan cavities are easy to pop out a cooled cheesecake if they are sprayed with oil. The coconut oil in a spray can is what I have on hand but they could be greased by hand with butter.
To make the Holiday version:
Add 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg to the graham cracker crust mixture, use eggnog in place of the half and half, use just 1/4 teaspoon vanilla and replace the citrus zest with nutmeg. Top with whipped cream, fresh diced persimmon and more freshly ground nutmeg. (I buy whole nutmeg and grate it on a micro-planer.) SO GOOD!!! In fact, after New Years, I went to the store and bought some eggnog I could freeze to make these one more time :)

Here is a link to another flavor, chocolate hazelnut, I tried for my friends wedding along with the strawberry version. It was also wonderful. I think any cheesecake recipe could be adapted for a mini version. I guess I'm just a "little" crazy about these little guys...

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