April 10, 2011

Mini Cheesecakes

Spring is finally here, and with that breath of fresh air come holidays of renewal and celebration. If you're looking for an easy dessert to serve at home or transport to family get togethers, this is the perfect one. You can top these with just about anything, including assorted jams such as apricot or blackberry.
I've also made the crust with crushed shortbread cookies instead of graham crackers. These particular ones were requested with strawberries and chocolate for a birthday celebration. Hope you like them~

Mini Cheesecakes
makes 20
20 paper cupcake liners
1 and 1/2 cups finely crushed graham crackers
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon sugar
1 lb. low-fat cream cheese, room temperature (2 bricks/8 oz. each)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla bean)
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
3 tablespoons flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in your muffin tin. I found these designer paper liners at a local craft store, and think they really make these little cheesecakes extra special.
Place the graham crackers in a large, ziploc bag, and use a wooden rolling pin to crush them up. A food processor works well too, but this is just a fast, easier way with less mess.
Place the crumbs in a small bowl, add the melted butter and teaspoon of sugar. Mix well with a fork.
Spoon a tablespoon of crumbs into each liner,
then press flat into the bottom with your fingers. Bake for 5 minutes (unfilled) to set, remove the pan from the oven and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the bricks of cream cheese with sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs and sour cream, combine, then add lemon juice and flour. Give it a good whipping once again!
Now, when recipes call for vanilla extract, I like to use vanilla beans. They have a strong, vanilla flavor, and I like the little black specks I can see in the batter. It reminds me of authentic vanilla bean ice cream. If you don't like those little specks in your cheesecake, or don't want to buy vanilla beans, by all means use extract. But use real extract, not imitation.  If you want to try the beans, just take a paring knife and slice the bean down the side. You can open it up, and see a thick, black gooey paste-like substance.
Gently scrape the paste out with the edge of the paring knife, and mix it right into the batter, (or use extract at this point). One last mixing and we're ready to fill the crusts. Using a tablespoon, fill each cup about 3/4 full. These will puff up a bit when you bake them, but will sink down again as they cool.
After they're filled, bake for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place directly on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. (Leave the cheesecakes in the pan.)
After ten minutes, use a butter knife to gently lift cakes out of the pan. Allow them to cool completely before topping them with fruit or jam, then refrigerate until ready to serve. Of course, I insist that you put one aside for yourself to try. Happy Spring!!!

1 comment:

Buttercup said...

These would be perfect for brunch for company, but I worry I'd eat them before the company arrived. They look great.