Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mini Cheesecakes

I got this recipe from my good friend Michelle, author of the Earning Your Apron blog.  Michelle has been running this wonderful blog for years, and it's full of wonderful, unique, and (mostly) healthy ideas.  When you have a chance, I highly recommend you browse through her posts.

Her pictures look tastier, too.

Now, to business.  I altered the recipe slightly, but not by much.  These mini cheesecakes are a perfectly proportioned after-dinner treat.  There is also the added benefit of individualizing your cheesecakes to your guests preference.  You can leave them plain or incorporate chocolate, nuts, or fruit to the filling.  We added chopped up Snickers bars to one of ours.  Make several different kinds and have a tasting party.  Or try flavors you aren't sure about and don't want to risk a whole cake on.  Just have fun with it!

You will need:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
2 egg whites
1/4 cup sour cream
Chopped chocolate candies (optional)
Caramel or chocolate sauce (optional)
Fruit pie filling (optional)

Fresh fruit for topping (optional)

For the crust, combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar in a small bowl.  Divide mixture among ramekins, packing down to create a crust. You must decide how many ramekins to use based on the size(s) you have available in proportion to the amount of filling made (approximately 2 cups). Alternatively, if you do not wish to make individual cheesecakes, pack mixture on the bottom of a well-greased small glass baking dish or a spring-form pan.  If you use a larger baking vessel, you may want to double the recipe.   Set baking vessels aside.

For the filling, beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl. Then beat in egg whites one at a time, making sure they are mixed in well.  Add sour cream and mix until mixture is creamy and smooth.  There should be no lumps!

Divide the filling among the baking vessels.  Now is also the time to add fruit, chocolate, or nut fillings if so desired.  Before adding the cheesecake filling, add a layer of your optional filling of choice on top of the crust.  Then pour in cheesecake filling.  Fill until about 1 cm below the rim.

A layer of Snickers.  Mmmmm.

In a pre-heated 350 F oven, bake the cheesecakes until the center is nearly set.  Smaller ramekins will need about 20 minutes.  Larger ramekins will need about 25 minutes.  Full cheesecakes will need about 30-40 minutes, depending on how large the pan is.  Once center is almost set, turn off the over but leave the cheesecakes in the oven with the door cracked open for another 10-15 minutes.

When using small, round, or difficult to grip baking vessels, I like placing them on an baking pan for easier handling. 

Remove from oven and refrigerate for at least one hour of mini cheesecakes; two hours for full cheesecakes.

Top with your favorite toppings and share with friends.

~ The Pink One

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