Sunday, September 21, 2014

Mini Cheesecakes with Macerated Strawberries

I made these mini cheesecakes for our visit with Farheen and Sadiah. Farheen said it was the best cheesecake she ever had. I have to admit that it was one of my tastiest desserts. Probably because I make cheesecake in my sleep. Its funny how I can spend hours upon hours perfecting a new recipe but the ridiculously simple ones that I can remember with my eyes closed always turn out to be some of my best bites. 

I paired it with macerated strawberries. I considered making a strawberry glaze, but if you want to keep it fresh and summery, just stick to sprinkling the sugar and it'll make those strawberries give off their own juices.

I've recently taken notice of how much better cake recipes come out with room temperature eggs. I think this cheesecake came out extra creamy because of it. Adding cold eggs can create lumps in the batter. When they are room temperature, they mix in seamlessly.

I love the recipe for this crust! You don't taste the nuts, but they add an extra depth of flavor to the graham crackers. Another thing that really made a difference was using reduced fat cream cheese. The second time I made this recipe, I used three regular blocks of cream cheese and for some reason, it was not as creamy and flavorful as the first time I made it. I don't know what that's all about, maybe they just weren't thawed as well, but I wanted to make a note of that. Just be sure not to pick up fat free cream cheese.

Mini Cheesecakes with Macerated Strawberries
Yield: 4 mini cheesecakes (4.75" springform pans)

1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup finely chopped graham crackers
3 tablespoons melted butter

You can process all the ingredients in a food processor or blender to finely chop. Mix all ingredients together and press into the bottom and sides of four 4.75 inch springform pans. Set aside.

16 ounces reduced fat (1/3 less fat) cream cheese, softened almost to room temperature (DO NOT use fat free)
8 ounces regular cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, blend sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Then add vanilla, and mix until smooth.

Divide the filling evenly between the mini springform pans, filling nearly to the top (about 1/2 inch to the top). Tap lightly on the counter to release any trapped air. Bake 30 minutes. Cheesecake will be just slightly jiggly in the center. Open oven door and turn off the oven. Allow to slowly cool inside oven. Then remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. When fully cool, cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator.

Macerated Strawberries

Wash your strawberries very well, and even let them sit in water for 5-10 minutes to hydrate the skins. Cut them into fourths and sprinkle with granulated sugar until evenly coated. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. The longer the better. The berries will become juicy, soft, and sweet!

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