Somehow I agreed to making 32 mini cheesecakes this week for Hubby’s co-workers. Word was circulating around the cubicles that a certain wife of a certain finance guy had a food blog, and since San Francisco was a barren culinary wasteland, it was only appropriate that I send some treats up their way. At least that’s what Hubby told me, and I had only myself to blame as I spent weeks gushing over my stand mixer and how I could easily whip up a cheescake if the mood struck. It wasn’t a shock when he asked me to bake him one for his birthday.
What did shock me was that he needed a cheesecake big enough to feed about 30 people–that’s like 3 cakes that need to be baked in a water bath, cooled down with the oven door open, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll end up with perfectly un-cracked velvety smooth cheesecake like Junior’s. Then, to survive a car ride, BART, and a walk through city blocks.
Taking a page from my daughter’s beloved crafting rulebook, I’ve decided to make them mini. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve accidentally vacuumed up entire toy collections the size of my thumb. I do admit mini puppy figurines are exponentially more adorable than normal sized ones even if I have to view them an inch away from my face. Being mini has its advantages besides the cute factor. I can bake them in cupcake pans reducing cooking time, fill them with tart cranberry sauce, top them with pumpkin frosting, and pack them in cupcake boxes. No need to worry about cracking, uneven cooking, slicing the cake or transporting.
The cheesecake batter is adapted from Elise’s “Perfect Cheesecake” recipe from Simply Recipes, and if you rather bake a cake of normal proportions and don’t mind the prep work associated with it, the recipe can be found at: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/perfect_cheesecake/
But if you are all about imperfections and mini-everything, then bake them in muffin cups, and see the crater for what it really is: a convenient space for your favorite jelly and frosting.
This one somehow ended up on a plate.
- 36 regular sized muffin cups.
- 3 muffin pans (12 muffins each)
- 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs (about 2 plastic packages inside box and finely pulsed in a food processor)
- 2 tbs sugar
- pinch of salt
- 5 tbs of melted unsalted butter
- 2 pounds of cream cheese (4 boxes of cream cheese at room temperature)
- 4 large eggs (at room temperature)
- 1 1/3 cups of sugar
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 cup of chilled cranberry sauce
- pumpkin frosting: 12 ounces of cream cheese(room temp.), 1 stick of unsalted butter(room temp), 1/3 cup of pumpkin puree, 1 cup of sifted powdered sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/3 cup honey
- NOTE: Mini cheesecakes can be frozen. Peel them from cupcake wrapper, leave them unfilled, and place them in an airtight container before freezing. Thaw in refrigerator and fill before serving.
- Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Combine finely pulsed graham crackers and 2 tbs of sugar with 5 tbs of melted butter until it resembles wet sand.
- Put 36 regular sized muffin cups in 3 muffin pans.
- Place 1 heaping tsp of graham cracker crumbs on bottom of cups. With a teaspoon, flatten the crumbs and pack them down.
- Bake for 8 minutes in the 350 oven. You may need to switch the pans around near midway point.
- Take out of oven and let cool. Drop oven temperature to 325 degree F.
- Cut room temp. cream cheese into chunks, and place them in a bowl. Using a stand mixer or a handheld mixer, mix on medium speed for 4 minutes using paddle attachment. Once creamy, add sugar, and mix for another 4 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and vanilla, and mix again for a minute. Add room temp. eggs one at a time, and mixing throughly between each one. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula, and mix for another minute on medium.
- Ladle cream cheese filling into each muffin cup using a 1/4 cup. DO NOT FILL TO THE TOP. Leave about a half centimeter space from the top. The cake will rise and then deflate in the oven.
- Bake in a 325 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Switch pans around midway, and the cakes are done when they are slightly browned on the edges and some are starting to deflate.
- Remove from oven and let them cool completely before refrigerating.
- Keep them in the fridge for at least two hours before the next step.
- Once chilled, remove each cheesecake from its muffin cup. Do this carefully. Place in a fresh wrapper or leave as it is. (It can be frozen at this point.)
- Prepare frosting by combining room temp. cream cheese and room temp. butter in a mixer with a paddle attachment. Cream for a minute on medium or until they are well combined. Add 1 cup of sifted powdered sugar to the mixture and mix for another minute. (Start slow or else you'll get powder everywhere.) Add cinnamon and pumpkin puree. Mix for another minute or two. Using a spatula, scrape frosting from the sides and bottom of bowl. Add honey, and mix for another minute or until frosting is smooth and creamy.
- Spoon a drop of chilled cranberry sauce in the center of each cupcake. Then, frost the top with pumpkin frosting. Keep cheesecakes in the fridge until ready to eat.