Sunday, March 1, 2009

Cheesecake (Mini)

I give in to my food cravings way too easily sometimes. I wanted cheesecake. First I tried making little mini ones, in my head that meant I'd be able to eat them sooner, even though all cheesecake needs to season at least overnight. Yeah. Then just yesterday I made a normal one. I forgot to take pictures as I was making the big one, so I just have a final product shot of that one. I've got step by step of the mini ones though. What isn't included is my mad dash to the store because I was out of muffin tins. The one thing I always have a ton of.

This recipe is a product of my brain and reading tons of different cheesecake recipes.

First the crust. I use my blender to make the crumbs. I used half graham crackers, half vanilla wafers. This recipe makes way more than is needed for the mini cheesecakes, I actually ended up using the rest of it for the big cheesecake. Ran a little short on the crust for the big one, so that crust is thin. This recipe can be used for the big one's crust or for the minis. I'm going to double the cheesecake mix for the minis, that will use up all the crust.

2 cups cookie crumbs, I did 1 of graham crackers, 1 of vanilla wafers.
1/4 cup of normal white sugar
6 Tablespoons to 1 stick of butter, melted.
1 tsp. cinnamon. This isn't necessary, but I like it. :)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all the ingredients together. I mix all the dry first then add the butter, the 6 tablespoons first, adding more if needed. It really depends, you need the crumbs to stick together a little, be able to form into the pan basically. I use a fork to mix the butter in.

For mini cakes:
Line a normal muffin tin with the muffin cups, I used the foil ones with a paper liner, they worked perfect for this. If you are one of the lucky ones, with a mini cheesecake pan, feel free to use that, I don't have one. I'm guessing you would grease it like a normal springform pan. Spoon a soup spoonful into each muffin tin. Oh. This will make 24 minis. So two of the 12 muffin tins. (You know, I bet you could use the giant muffin tins too, just would have to increase the cook time.) Set aside till you're done the batter. (No baking of the crust needed.)

For the batter for the minis:
2 8oz packs of cream cheese, (two boxes) softened. Just pull them out of the fridge before you even start the crust and it should be good by the time you get to it. Unless your kitchen is exceptionally chilly.
1/2 cup of normal white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Cream the sugar and cheese together, then mix in the eggs and vanilla. Mix it just until it is all combined, you don't want to sit there and stir it for an extra 5 minutes just because you can. Cheesecake batter is picky. I just used a spoon for this batter. Didn't pull out the mixer until the big cheesecake. Now you'll want to spoon the batter into the muffin tins evenly, using again, a soup spoon. I'd suggest starting with just a little in each, then going back over to make sure they are all as even as possible. As you can see, I ran out of batter. :)

Bake them in the oven for 12-14 minutes, it took the full 14 in my oven. You want the centers to be a little wiggly still, but just a tiny bit.

This is how they look right out of the oven. You want to let them cool in the pan a minute or two, then pull them out and put them on a wire rack. Then into the fridge they should go, overnight is best. But I think if you made these first thing the morning they'd be good for dessert.

This is how they look on my plate. I didn't wait, I ate some right away, when they were still warm. I was not impressed. Cheesecake really does need to sit. The next day, my friend was over and we tried them. These are so delicious. They really are worth the wait. You can top them with practically anything. The favorite for me is strawberries. Sadly I cannot get decent fresh ones down here. You can use frozen fruit, pie fillings, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, the limit really is your imagination. I'm quite happy eating it plain until I get some good strawberries. When I have fresh strawberries I slice them up and put them in a bowl with about 2 teaspoons of sugar and let them sit. They get super juicy and delicious.

For the big cheesecake. You need a lot more stuff. Mine failed rather wonderfully. So I'll not be posting the recipe I used. I'll be tweaking it and trying again sometime soon. I can't stand when a recipe doesn't work, I have to fix it and try again. :)
How did it fail? First I messed up the crust by only using what I had leftover from the mini ones, rather than making more. So the crust is very thin. Second, the cooking instructions with this recipe are faulty. The cheesecake didn't cook enough. I was trusting, the middle was still wobbly,but it was supposed to be. I made it yesterday, today, the middle isn't right. It's super creamy, like the texture of coolwhip. The edge is nice and cakey though. The thirdly, it calls for almond extract. I figured I'd give it a try. I don't really like it, but with everything else that went wrong with this cheesecake, I'm not ruling it out forever, I'm just shelving the idea of almond extract instead of vanilla in a cheesecake for a while.
I am giving the cheesecake another day to season. Hopefully this recipe just takes longer to season then most. Who knows. We'll find out. Right now I am not expecting it to change much, but it may.

Enjoy the minis! You can cut the recipe in half to make just 12 of them. Depends on what you're making them for and how many people will want them. Two a person seems to be the magic number with these ones.

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