Classic Cheesecupcakes

May 12, 2008

Ah, neglect. Sorry guys, but the semester just ended, and between exams, papers, graduation(!), and seeing off friends, I totally neglected to post. But I’m back with something very yummy. :D

I was calling these New York Cheesecakes, but I’m really not sure what constitutes a cheesecake as New York. According to Wikipedia, there are dozens of types of cheesecakes. These are what I consider classic mini-cheesecakes with a graham cracker crust. I don’t have a mini-cheesecake pan, but muffin liners do the trick just fine.

Perhaps the best thing about these babies is freeze-ability. All I have to do to reach Cheesecake Heaven is pluck one out of the freezer and let it thaw on the counter for a few minutes. You’ll find notes on freezing at the end of the recipe.

Also, amidst everything, my computer ate a batch of photos — I guess it has a sweet tooth too! As such, I don’t have any pictures of these cheesecakes.. so here’s a picture of my cat instead. Isn’t he cute?

Classic Cheesecupcakes

Baking Temp.: 325°
Approx. Bake Time: 20 minutes
Yields: 6 mini-cheesecakes

Ingredients

Crust:
3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs (about 4.5 whole crackers)
3 tbsp. butter, melted

Filling:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. beaten egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. heavy cream

Instructions

– Mix together graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Line a muffin tin with 6 paper cups. Spoon two tablespoons of the mixture into each liner. Press crumbs into the bottom and partially up the sides of the liner. (I press down with my tablespoon to make a little well.)
– Beat cream cheese, sugar, brown sugar, and cornstarch until smooth. By hand, whisk in the beaten egg and vanilla extract just until combined. Whisk in the heavy cream.
– Spoon the batter over the crust, filling the cups to the top.
– Bake in a water bath. Place the muffin tin inside a larger (and deep) pan. Using a kettle, fill the larger pan with very hot water so that it reaches halfway up the muffin tin. Move to a preheated oven.
– The cheesecakes are done when they are set but still springy. The batter may jiggle, but it shouldn’t slosh.
– Let the cheesecakes cool in the muffin tin for 30 minutes. Next, remove them from the tin and let cool on a rack until they reach room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours before eating.
Notes
– I like to crush my graham crackers between the two halves of a folded sheet of wax paper, with a rolling pin.
– To freeze: Place cooled, uncovered cheesecakes into the freezer for one hour. Remove from freezer, then wrap each cheesecake in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Stash them in a freezer-safe bag or container, and eat as you please. They should be eaten within a month, so date the container.

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Crustless Amaretto Babycakes (Small Batch)

March 13, 2008

I like things that come in an individual portion — that’s one reason I like cookies. It’s also why I prefer to bake muffins over quick bread, cupcakes over cake, and now these “babycakes” (as a friend dubbed them) over cheesecake. It also allows me to bake a smaller batch, because I don’t own mini cake pans.

They aren’t the most photogenic treats — partly due to my amateur photography — but they sure are tasty.

It took me a few tries to perfect this cheesecake recipe, but I’m thrilled with the results. These have a wonderful creamy texture. I started out with this recipe at all recipes, scaled it down, and then started messing with the ingredients a bit. I’ve found that cornstarch makes the best thickener, and heavy cream is the best dairy product to use. (Of course the richest product would be the best!) If you wish, you can sub flour for the cornstarch and some other dairy product for the heavy cream. It may not be as good, IMHO, but it’ll still turn out.

These are crustless because I made them for a friend who always leaves the crust of her cheesecake behind. I have nothing against cheesecake crust, but I have to say that I didn’t miss it to much. Plus, it’s convenient because I seldom have packaged cookies or other crust-making ingredients in the house. You can certainly use a crust in here if you wish.

Crustless Amaretto Babycakes

Oven Temp.: 325°
Approx. Bake Time: 25-30 min.
Yields: 6 mini cheesecakes

Ingredients
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. sugar
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 egg
1/4 c. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (or almond extract)
2 tbsp. amaretto liquor

Instructions
– Beat the cream cheese, sugar, brown sugar, and cornstarch until smooth. Beat in the egg, just until incorporated. Stir in the cream, amaretto, and vanilla extract.
– These bake with a water bath, so place a muffin tin inside a larger (and deep) pan. Line the tin with paper or silicone cups. Spoon in the batter, filling the cups to the top. Fill the larger pan with very hot water so that it reaches halfway up the muffin tin. (Use a kettle.)
– Bake in a preheated oven until the cheesecakes are set, but still moist. (The batter shouldn’t slosh, but it should be slightly jiggly.)
– Let the cheesecakes cool in the muffin tin for an hour. Next, remove them from the tin and let them cool on a rack until they reach room temperature. Refrigerate for 6 hours before eating.

Notes
– If you fill to the top you should get 6 tall babycakes. You can also fill the cups less to get shorter babycakes.
– You can also sub your favorite liquor for the amaretto, though I haven’t tried anything else.