Sunday, July 7, 2013

Mini Cheesecakes

Last week was a big event in my dad's 50th birthday. We were preparing for this for the past year and my brother jokingly nicknamed it "Party of the century". We had upwards of seventy five people in attendance, including many out-of-town guests, and the evening was filled with memorable speeches and entertaining performances.

Although we had ordered a large cake for the event I still wanted to do something special and months ago came up with the idea of making miniature cheesecakes after buying special pans from (click here). These pans are unique and designed specially to bake mini cheesecakes as each well has a removable disc at the bottom.

When I first ordered the pans my mom was a little skeptical as to how well the cheesecakes would actually come out and whether it would be as easy as promised. We decided to test the pans by baking a batch for one of our many family get-togethers. Happily we discovered that the cheesecakes came out perfectly and were beautifully smooth all around.

Unfortunately I didn't think to write down the recipe that I used at the time because I had simply altered the quantities from my lemon cheesecake. Apparently that was a mistake because my memory did not serve me well and when I tried making the cheesecakes again for my graduation they ended up all cracked and lopsided.

When it came time for me to make the cheesecakes for a third time for "Party of the century" I was a little nervous that they wouldn't turn out because I still wasn't 100% sure of what I had done the first time. However after doing some research online and talking it over with my mom we settled on the recipe and luckily they turned out great...which was a relief because I had to make three batches in order to have enough for the party.

To make the cheesecakes even cuter, and to add an air of sophistication, I made a fruit gelee then
topped it with some blueberries. The idea for the gelee came from when I had made the second, unsuccessful cracked/lopsided batch and was looking for a way to cover it up. At the time I had used berries, which tasted delicious, but the gelee was dark colored and stained the sides of the cheesecake. For the party I decided to use mango instead, due to its light color, and I had no problems.

In addition to the mini cheesecakes, I also baked almond florentines that were topped with little meringues. Both desserts were a hit and I received many compliments. Most importantly, the party was a huge success and lived up to its moniker.

Mini Cheesecakes
Note: The cheesecakes can be prepared in a muffin pan using liners for easy removal. The gelee can also be used but be prepared for it to stick to the liner a little bit, though it can still be peeled away before serving. The recipe makes 24 mini cheesecakes.

For the crust:
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/6 cup sugar
Combine all of the ingredients and distribute evenly amongst the wells of the muffin/cheesecake pan. Lightly pat down the bottoms and bake for five minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Set aside to cool.

For the cheesecake:
  • 24 oz (750 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 lemon, zested
  1. Beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed for about a minute, until smooth. 
  2. Beat in the sugar and then the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl as necessary.
  3. Beat in the vanilla, sour cream, and lemon zest.
  4. Divide the cheesecake batter evenly amongst the wells of the pan, filling them about ¾ full. (You may have some batter left over but it's best not to overfill the wells otherwise the cakes will puff up too much in the oven).
  5. Bake the cheesecakes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the pans inside with the door closed for 10 minutes and then an additional 10 minutes with the oven door slightly ajar. Remove and let cool to room temperature before refrigerating for at least four hours.
The recipe for the gelee can be found here. I used exactly the same proportions as in the original recipe and it worked out perfectly to cover all 24 of the mini cheesecakes.

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