Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mini Cheesecakes

Did you guys think that my only contribution to my dad's 60th birthday would be cupcakes?! Well if you did, you were WRONG! I actually made these cheesecakes once before, for Sean's birthday party around Christmas time. They were amazing, and a huge hit! I think they may have been the best cheesecake I've ever made before, and they're incredibly simple. So when the opportunity came up for me to make them again, with enough time to take some photos and then post them, I grabbed it!

Once again, these were a big hit at my dad's surprise birthday gathering. What I really like about them is the versatility; you can really top them off with whatever you'd like. My mother had made blueberry, blackberry and raspberry sauces, and I had leftover cherry filling and vanilla bean caramel sauce. I personally like fruit toppings because it lightens the cheesecake up, but I know quite a few people were hittin up the caramel sauce big time. Additionally, I really like the size of the cheesecakes, they're the perfect 2-4 bites. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of cheesecake just like most people, but often a normal slice is just too much. You don't have that problem with these... actually, I think the problem is not grabbing a second... or third!

If you want to get nice smooth edges on your cheesecakes, and not use liners of some sort, you can get the pans that I use here.

Yield: 24 mini cheesecakes
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 ¼ lb. cream cheese,  room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup sour cream
2 eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray cheesecake pan lightly with cooking spray.

For the crust, combine graham cracker crumbs, 1 tablespoon sugar, and melted butter in medium bowl. Combine with a fork, until all crumbs have been thoroughly coated with butter, and crumbs begin to clump together. Divide crumb mixture between each well, approximately a heaping tablespoon for each. Press the crumbs down firmly in the pan; I used a small glass that fit into the wells (much easier than using your fingers!).  

Back the crusts for 10 minutes in preheated oven; remove and set on wire racks to cool completely before filling.

For the filling, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the softened cream cheese on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape sides occasionally to ensure no clumps survive. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the sugar; beat until smooth. Add the vanilla and sour cream and beat until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour and beat until combined.

Divide the filling among the cooled, crust-filled wells. Fill each about 3/4 full or slightly more (keeping in mind that cheesecake will not rise). Bake until the cheesecakes are just set in the center, about 15-16 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cheesecakes cool completely, before refrigerating for 2 hours minimum. Remove cheesecakes from pan by pushing the bottoms up; if cheesecakes become stuck, run a knife around the edge to loosen them.

Keep in mind that cheesecake becomes better with time, so a minimum of 4 hours refrigerated before serving is optimal, and up to 24 hours is fine. Spoon desired topping onto cheesecake when ready to serve.

Source: cheesecakes adapted from Annie's Eats, who adapted from Williams Sonoma.

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