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Mini cheese cake

July 22, 2011

For some reason, everything tastes better when it’s made from scratch. I love to cook but one of the most important reasons I cook almost everything from scratch is because then I know what goes into my food.

Whether it’s a main dish, a soup, a salad or a delicious favorite dessert such as my New York Cheesecake, I like knowing that the dessert I’m eating or offering my guests is made with the freshest ingredients. It’s also made using the healthiest version I can find or create.

When it comes to flavor or texture, how does a cheesecake made from scratch measure up? Having tasted quite a few, homemade, store-bought and in restaurants, I think without a doubt I love homemade cheesecake best of all.

Made from scratch also means cooking without preservatives and additives. That means that your dessert is going to be healthier in the final analysis no matter what ingredients you’ve used.

Making my cheesecakes from scratch, there is also a very important factor to consider. I can choose the ingredients I use, such as unbleached flours or less fat cream cheese. I can also control things like how much salt and sugar I use or even how many eggs.

In short, there are many ways that you can still have your cake and eat it too in a manner of speaking. You can make delicious mini cheesecakes from scratch and vary the recipe as often as you have a new idea for a twist on the recipe.

Other benefits of mini cheesecakes over regular sized cheesecakes?

  • They’re smaller so you can have dessert for 2 or 20
  • They freeze well if you have leftover cheesecake
  • Variety – you can make 4 different kinds with 1 batch of cheesecake recipe
  • Dividing the batter into 4 different kinds lets you experiment

Let’s look at the basic batter and then specifically at 2 of my all-time favorites, New York Cheesecake and Chocolate Cheesecake. Be sure and check out the other suggestions and tips on making cheesecakes. Making mini desserts is one way some timid cooks begin to experiment. For some, making smaller desserts can sometimes seem less intimidating than making larger ones.

MINI CHEESECAKE RECIPE

Makes 4 mini cheesecakes

CRUST INGREDIENTS

Combined ingredients for crumbs should equal 1 cup

Use a combination of the following to equal 1 cup (or just use 1 cup graham cracker crumbs or cookie crumbs)

  • Graham cracker crumbs
  • Chocolate cookie crumbs
  • Dry granola put in the grinder
  • Toasted hazelnuts, peeled and put in the grinder
  • Toasted unsweetened coconut
  • Arrowroot cookie crumbs
  • Toasted nuts of any kind put in grinder

TIP: Grind nutmeats or granola – whatever the combination, make sure that all the parts of the crust are the same consistency as graham cracker crumbs

For my crust in these recipes I used:

  • 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 3/4 cup toasted ground hazelnuts + toasted unsweetened coconut flakes

To above crumb mixture you will add

  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter or margarine, slightly cooled

DIRECTIONS FOR CRUST

NOTE: If you have 4 mini cheesecake pans, make all 4 of the cheesecakes at the same time. If you only have 2 mini pans, then make 2 one day and 2 the next day. Just bring the cheesecake batter to room temperature before pouring into pans.

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Prepare your 1 cup of crumb ingredients.
  2. Place in a medium sized bowl, add sugar and toss. Add melted butter or margarine and toss.
  3. Place 2 or 4 mini springform pans on a baking sheet. If using 2 pans, divide the crust ingredients in half and divide again. Then split that mixture between the 2 pans. If using 4 pans, divide crust mixture between 4 pans evenly.
  4. Press crumb mixture along bottom and slightly up the sides of the pans with fingers or a tart tool to form the crust.
  5. Bake at 300 degrees on the cookie sheet for about 7 minutes. Remove crusts from oven and let cool. Set aside.

CHEESECAKE INGREDIENTS

NOTE: All ingredients should be at room temperature when preparing.

  • 3 (8) ounce packages of cream cheese (or combo of regular cream cheese and low-fat or non-fat cream cheese)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs

DIRECTIONS FOR CHEESECAKE

  1. Place cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a large mixer with blending attachment . Mix on low speed until smooth.
  2. Add eggs 1 at a time and blend after each just until blended. Do not overbeat after addition of each egg.
  3. If doing different kinds of cheesecakes, separate the batter into 4 parts/4 bowls. Work with 1 part for each cheesecake and make additions accordingly. (see below for additions)
  4. Pour cheesecake mixture into each pan on top of crust and gently shake cheesecake mixture in pan to settle any air bubbles.
  5. Bake at 300 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Cheesecakes are done when centers are almost completely set and barely jiggling like Jello-O.
  6. Remove from oven and let set on rack for about 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the rim of the cheesecakes.
  7. Cool the cakes the rest of the way – then loosen the sides of the springform pans.
  8. Refrigerate 4 hours at least or overnight.
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