Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mini Peanut Butter Cheesecakes

If anyone were to ask me what is my favorite TV show I would not even hesitate before responding...Friends. I've long lost track of how many times I have seen each episode, but let's just say I can quote every single one. My friend recently just finished watching all ten seasons and was super excited when I told her that I own the Friends Scene-it DVD game. She insisted that we play it even though I warned her no one can beat me. In fact I haven't played the game in over six years because everyone refuses to play with me. Still, she begged me to play so I invited her and a few others over and ordered in some sushi.

Seeing as I had the day off I thought it would be nice to make something for dessert and we could eat it while playing the game. I decided to make something easy and had one block of cream cheese left over from my birthday cake. I found a simple recipe online and used my mini cheesecake pan. At first I was a little confused why there were no eggs listed, but then I realized that it was actually a no-bake cheesecake. This made me excited because, despite the fact that I have made many cheesecakes, I have never made a no-bake cheesecake.

The recipe was quick and easy to follow and the cakes were ready after two hours in the freezer. I'm sure the recipe could be adapted to other flavors as well. To top them I made "stabilized whipped cream". I had heard of the concept before and wanted to try it out. Basically, it is whipped cream that has a little bit of gelatin added to it so that it can keep its shape, making it ideal for frosting or decorating cakes ahead of time. The whipped cream held up for days afterward in the fridge and still tasted just as good. My mom pointed out that if you think about it, it's kind of like a semi-mousse because it uses all the same ingredients, just much less gelatin. Even so, it's a great way to be able to make whipped cream and save it for later use.

Mini Peanut Butter Cheesecakes
Note: I used my mini cheesecake pan and was able to make 18 cheesecakes. A cupcake pan with liners would also work. The cheesecake could also be made in a larger, 9" size but would have to stay in the freezer longer to ensure that it sets properly.

For the crust:

  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1½ tbsp sugar
  • ¼ cup (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
Combine all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Add one tablespoon into each well of a lined cupcake tray. Press down gently. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for seven minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

For the cheesecake:
  • 1 block (8 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (make sure it is smooth!)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  1. Whip the heavy cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy with soft peaks. Set aside in the fridge.
  2. Beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed for a few minutes, until whipped and smooth.
  3. Turn down the speed to low and beat in the sugar and peanut butter. Increase the speed and continue mixing for a few minutes until well mixed. 
  4. Using a spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the cheesecake mixture. Make sure it is all incorporated but try not to overmix so that it keeps its airiness. 
  5. Divide the batter amongst the wells of the pan, filling them completely to the top. Use a spoon or spatula to even out the tops, making them smooth.
  6. Put the pan in the freezer for two hours. Touch the tops of the cakes to make sure they are solid before removing from the pan and transferring to the fridge. 
For the whipped cream:
Makes approximately 2 cups.
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 4 tsp cold water
  1. In a small pan, combine the gelatin and cold water and let it stand for a minute until thick.
  2. Place the pan over low heat, stirring constantly, until the gelatin dissolves. 
  3. Remove from the heat and set aside so that it cools to room temperature, but do not let it set.
  4. Meanwhile, start whipping the cream on low speed. Once bubbles start to form, add the powdered sugar and vanilla and increase the speed slightly.
  5. Slowly pour in the gelatin while continuing to whip the cream. If the gelatin has set, place it briefly over the heat to loosen it again, however make sure it is not hot when adding it to the cream as it will set upon contact with the cold cream and create chunks.
  6. Once all the gelatin has been added, increase the speed to high and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. 
Note: The whipped cream can be set aside in the fridge for later use though I suggest if using it for decoration, such as piping, use it right away. 

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