This time last year, we were living in North Carolina, had just adopted Gustav and were living together for the first time.
While pretty much everything in our life has changed, one thing is a constant: I get to make Jeff cake after cake and watch him eat until he starts to frown... the sign of a successful dessert.
Last year I made him a banana cheesecake. This year, I decided on a trio.
I like excessive toppings, they are like culinary confetti.
Cooking at home often means improvising- the cocktail shaker is the perfect size for pressing cheesecake crust into the paper liners.
While the base cheesecake recipe is delicious, these varieties are better.
Portable cheesecake, it's a thing.
2 c graham cracker crumbs
1 stick butter, melted
1 # (2- 8 ounce packages) cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 c sour cream at room temperature
3 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons flour (optional)
- - -
1. Make crust by combining graham cracker crumbs with melted butter until mixture clumps together; set aside
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the cream cheese until soft and creamy; add in sugar and cream until combined and mixture appears silky
3. Add the sour cream, salt, flour and vanilla to the cream cheese mixture and stirl to incorporate
4. With the mixer on low, add eggs one at a time mixing until just incorporated (do not over-mix)
5. Line a cupcake pan with baking cups and add 1-2 Tablespoons of the crust mixture to each cup; press crumbs into the bottom of each cup (using either a cocktail shaker or your fingers...)
6. Pour filling over crust, filling each cup 2/3 of the way full (a heaping 1/4 c)
7. Place a roasting pan filled with water on the rack below the one your cupcake pan will be set and preheat oven to 275
8. Bake cheesecake cupcakes 20-30 minutes, until they appear just set and are still jiggly in the center
9. Cool 2-4 hours before serving
Optional flavor combinations
For something different, divide your base cheesecake batter into thirds and flavor each like I did
Banana Chocolate- To the base, fold in 1 1/2 mashed bananas; slice remaining 1/2 banana and place a round on top of the crust mixture before filling with batter; bake 25 minutes; prepare ganache by scalding 8 oz of cream and pouring it over 12 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, stirring until smooth; smooth ganache over bakes cheesecakes and cool completely before serving
Eggnog- Add 2 Tablespoons spiced rum, 2 Tablespoons prepared eggnog, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg, and a dash each of cloves and cinnamon; bake for 25 minutes and chill according to recipe
Maple Pecan- To the base, add 1/2 teaspoon maple extract and 1 Tablespoon maple syrup; bake 30 minutes; in a small bowl combine 1/2 c chopped pecans with 2 Tablespoons melted butter and 1 Tablespoon brown sugar; spoon pecan topping onto baked cheesecakes and place under broiler for 2-3 minutes until sugar melts and topping appears bubbly; chill accordingly