Monday, July 14, 2008

Turns out baking can be easy! Mini Black-Bottom Cheesecakes

After my success with my recent cupcake endeavor, I was feeling bolder and wanted to test out yet another delicious sounding recipe from Food & Wine's Grace Parisi. That woman is a genius! This time I was going to attempt cheesecakes, but still in adorable cupcake form. Cheesecake holds a special place in the pantheon of sweet treats for me. Not because it's so delicious (but it is), but in fact because it's the baked good of choice for my boyfriend's irksome ex-girlfriend. Yes, they broke up years go, and yes, she lives across the country and can no longer drape herself all over him at birthday parties (oh yes Ms. Em I saw you do that), but still I can't help feeling a wee bit competitive about it. She has years of cheesecake baking experience on her side, but I tried a bite of one she made Jeff (don't you love when your boyfriend's ex gives him baked goods?), and it was nothing to get excited about, so I figure I've got a pretty solid chance of topping it. Of course Jeff will say mine is better regardless, so I have that going for me, too!

This recipe was a bit unusual because it used fromage blanc instead of ricotta or mascarpone. I'd never tried fromage blanc before, but I was able to find it without a problem at Whole Foods and thought it lightened the recipe and kept the cheesecake from having the stick to the roof of your mouth consistency some recipes have. I digress, but I have a very clear memory of my little sister nearly choking to death on a bite of cheesecake that she just couldn't manage to swallow when she was a kid. Granted, she might have been overreacting as 6 year olds are wont to do, but still overly sticky cheesecake=bad.

The recipe is below:
From Food & Wine Magazine
  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 24 plain chocolate wafer cookies (I used Newman's Own brand)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup fromage blanc (6 ounces), at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup seedless raspberry preserves, warmed
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with foil baking cups and spray the cups with vegetable oil spray. In a food processor, crush the chocolate wafer cookies. Add the butter and process until fine crumbs form. Spoon the chocolate cookie crumbs into the prepared baking cups and press with the bottom of a glass to compact. Bake for 5 minutes, or until almost set. Leave the oven on.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until smooth. Beat in the fromage blanc, then add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  3. Pour the cheesecake batter into the baking cups, filling them three-quarters full.
  4. Bake the cheesecakes for 15 minutes, or until slightly jiggly in the center. Remove from the oven and spread 1 teaspoon of the warmed raspberry preserves on top of each cheesecake. Transfer the muffin tin to the freezer and chill the cheesecakes until set, about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the cheesecakes from the pan and peel off the foil baking cups. Transfer the cheesecakes to a platter and serve.
The whole process was quick and painless, and the results were delicious if not quite as aesthetically pleasing as the photo in the magazine. After 15 minutes in the freezer, the mini-cheesecake was light yet rich and creamy, and it was even more delicious after spending the night in the fridge. It was all I could do to give away most of them to my boyfriend's coworkers. I could have eaten them all! The cookie crust was a particularly nice touch and added some chocolaty crunch to contrast with the sweet raspberry and creamy cheesy center. The only thing I'd change is I'd use more cookies next time for a thicker crust. Delish! I'm sad they're all gone already

Best of all, I think I give a certain cheesecake baking old flame a run for her money.



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