Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mini Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake

Please don't hate on me because it's now fall and I'm posting a very summery dessert;, scout's honour, I made this in August and it's just taken me awhile to post it. So many other food bloggers pounce on the first opportunity possible to make fall-inspired dishes (think apples and pumpkins). And while I too am eager for these flavours, particularly pumpkin (which I have been dreaming about since last fall), I'm equally reluctant to let go of summer days. In fact, I may still be in slight denial that it's now fall. Don't mistake me, fall is actually my favourite season next to summer, but right now it's inevitably making me think of winter, which is just downright depressing.

So, without much further ado I present the last summery dessert until next summer (*tear). These mini cheesecakes were absolutely delightful. A perfectly light and refreshing cheesecake, with a subtle tang from the lemon and raspberry. And if you don't get all cheesecake-crazed, they make for the perfect amount to last 2 days. However, I do know some people (*ahem- Sean) who would be glad to eat the whole cheesecake in one sitting. And if that's your style, go for it! I don't judge.

Yield: 2 4-inch cakes 
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 tablespoon sugar

8 oz cream cheese (1 package)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
zest of 3/4 of a lemon
1 egg

1 cup raspberries, fresh
2-3 tablespoons sugar (depending on tartness)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar in medium sized bowl until combined. Mixture should be at the consistency that if you pinch it between your fingers, it stays together. If it immediately falls apart, it needs more butter.

Put 1/2 cup of the crust mixture into the bottom of 4-inch springform pans. Use your fingers or a flat instrument to help press and smooth the crust down. Bake the crust in oven for 5 minutes. Once finished, set aside and let cool completely.

In a medium sized bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy using a hand mixer. Add in sugar, and mix until combined, making sure to scrape down the sides. Add sour cream, lemon juice and lemon zest. Add in the egg and mix well, scraping sides again.

Take your cooled pans and wrap the bottom and sides tightly with foil. Use multiple pieces if necessary. This is to ensure that no water leaks through (trust me, soggy crusts aren't attractive-- although they usually firm up if you wait a day or two). Divide cheesecake batter in half and fill each pan.

Place pans in a 9 x 13 baking dish (or any other dish that fits both pans). Place the dish first in the oven, and then fill with hot water, about 1 1/2 inches (or 1/2 of the way up the springform pans. This helps promote even baking and less chances of cracking). Bake cheesecakes for 35 minutes or until set but still wiggly. If doubling the recipe and making a 9-inch cheesecake, bake for 70 minutes.

Once finished, carefully remove the entire pan from the oven. Leave the cheesecakes in the pan with the hot water still in it, until the water has cooled almost completely (by gradually cooling the cheesecakes, again there is less chance of cracking). Once water is cooled, remove cheesecakes and unwrap from foil. Cool cheesecakes completely, then refrigerate.

To make the raspberry sauce, use a mini food processor to blend the raspberries. Strain the sauce using a fine meshed sieve to remove any seeds. Place strained sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat and whisk in lemon juice and sugar. Bring to a simmer and let sauce reduce for 5-7 minutes. Remove several teaspoons of sauce and place in small bowl. Whisk the cornstarch into the small bowl. Once cornstarch lumps no longer remain, stir the cornstarch mixture back into the saucepan. Stir constantly for another minute or two, until sauce thickens considerably. Remove and let cool completely.

Spoon cooled raspberry sauce onto cheesecakes, while still in the springform pan. Refrigerate cheesecakes for 4 hours, and upwards to 24 (cheesecake needs to rest and develop the flavours!).

To remove cheesecake from the pan, run a knife around the edge of the cake. Release the springform pan and force it to go larger. Carefully remove. Garnish with fresh raspberries and lemon zest swirl.

Source: slightly adapted from: Baked by Rachel

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