Monday, September 24, 2012

Guest Post: Mini-Cheesecakes

Thanks so much to Margaret who supplied me with a guest post for this week. As she mentions, Nathan and I finally moved from our apartment to our new house. First thing to be unpacked: kitchen. Regular posts will return this fall.

Our friend Darren recently bought a house, and to celebrate this momentous occasion, he had a housewarming party this weekend! It was a very busy day, but I was determined to make him cheesecake, since that is his favorite food. In the morning, I helped Heather and Nathan move lots of furniture to THEIR new house... the moving out sucked because of all the stairs, moving into the house was much less sucky because there were fewer stairs and it was exciting to see the house! So I got home and was quite tired, but cheesecake was calling to me. I made two types, chocolate and cherry since those are Darren's favorite flavors.

I based the recipe off of Betty Crocker's but with a few tweaks.

Cherry Cheesecake ingredients:

·         12 oz box of vanilla wafer cookies (I only use about half the box)

·         2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened

·         3/4 cup sugar

·         2 eggs

·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract

·         1 can cherry pie filling

·         1 stick (8 tablespoons) of butter


The cookie box lied to me, and I was unable to use the wafers as-is for the crust because they were far too tiny for a regular sized muffin tin. I was sad. In any case, line your muffin tin with cups (I used foil), and preheat your oven to 375°F.
Tiny wafers, you are too small.

Take the cookies and crush them up. I put them in a ziplock and used a rolling pin to smash them. I think I used about half of the box in total, so you’ll end up with a couple of cups of crumbs.
hulk smash cookies!

Melt the butter in the microwave and mix in enough with the crumbs so they have a wet sand type consistency. Take approximately a teaspoon of crumbs and press them into the bottom of the muffin cups.

Next, use an electric beater to mix the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until the mixture is nice and smooth (it takes only a minute or two). Fill up each cup about 3/4 full.

I ended up with a fairly large amount of leftover filling, so I decided to just add to that for the chocolate cheesecakes. I added:

·         1 box (8 oz) softened cream cheese

·         1 egg

·         1/2 tsp vanilla

·         3/8 cup sugar

·         Approximately 1/4 cup cocoa powder

o    add more or less, depending how much chocolate flavor you want, but note that the powder will make the filling thicker and less liquidy

For the crumbs, I also added a couple of teaspoons of cocoa to make the crust chocolate-y as well, but that is optional. You could also use crushed chocolate wafers (e.g. from Oreos).

Beat all the ingredients together until combined, and fill up your muffin cups.

(I still had filling leftover… I’m wondering if I needed to add the extra ingredients, but I suspect I would have been short)
Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until they are set and a toothpick/knife inserted in the center comes out clean. For the chocolate ones, I poked a couple of chocolate chips in each one (done while they were hot so the chips would melt into them), because really, you can never have too much chocolate!
(aside: I think they got a little bit overdone, since my oven runs slightly hot, so next time I am going to try to lower the temperature and/or bake for a shorter period of time. Based on some googling, I theorize that I overbeat the filling so more air got incorporated which then expanded during baking and then the air pockets collapsed, which is why they are concave – but then they held the filling nicely so it worked out.)
Let them cool down. Spoon some cherry topping on to the plain cheesecakes (or whatever topping you desire). I removed the foil cups and put the cheesecakes into some loosened paper liners before topping them, because I thought trying to remove the foil would be tricky with the cherry topping and the paper makes them look pretty and keeps down crumbs.
I think they turned out really well, considering this was my first effort at cheesecake! The filling was creamy and light, with a nice little crunch from the cookie crumb crust.
Notes for next time:
·         I’m going to try to bake them for a minute or two less, possibly lower the temperature 10-15 degrees
·         Don’t overbeat the filling, see if that helps prevent cracks and sinking
·         Work on the ingredient amounts … if I’d used 16 oz of cream cheese for each batch, I would have had a TON of leftover filling and even though I used the equivalent of 1 ½ batches, I still had some extra.
I can vouch that thewe were super delicious (I had on of each at Darren's party!)

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