The first time I baked a birthday present for O, it was a pan of brownie-bottom pumpkin-swirled cheesecake bars. A pretty delicious dessert, perfectly in-season for the last weeks of autumn when winter was slowly beginning to sink into the cobblestone streets downtown. I very much enjoyed them, as I am wont to do whenever cream cheese is involved, and I figured she might as well.
Lucky for me, she adored them. The following year, I baked her another batch. Why mess with a good thing, after all?
So when she first asked me to bake for her recital a few weeks ago, she casually remarked that I could “maybe bake those pumpkin cheesecake bites you made for my birthday.”
…There was a hint if I’d ever heard one.
Well, these weren’t quite those pumpkin bars, but I think they did the job well enough.
After all, cheesecake is cheesecake. And I really adore cheesecake. But bars are messy and unprofessional when cut into bite sizes, and I am nothing if not elitist and sophisticated.
In any case, I knew from the start that cream cheese would be involved somehow. I settled on mini cheesecakes – a good excuse to bust out the most adorable baking pan ever created. The crust-to-filling ratio is not of one’s typical full-sized cheesecake. It’s more of a tart; a shortcrust topped with a thin layer of cream cheese filling, topped with a swirl of buttercream frosting, tied together with a chocolate music note. Adorable and delicious.
And now, an anecdote: it’s been said that Oscar Wilde was once asked to list his 100 favorite novels, to which he replied that he could not. When asked why, he simply stated: “because I’ve only written five.”
Now, I don’t know whether or not that’s true, but I’m pretty sure I was Oscar Wilde in a past life. And in this life, these tarts are one thing I’m really quite pleased with.
(Okay, enough with the unfounded narcissism, I promise.)
So, three posts in a day. Given that I haven’t posted a real dessert recipe since January, it’s basically a spring miracle. With this in mind, I doubt I’ll be back here for another few weeks. We’re approaching the home stretch, now. Last semester of undergraduate uni. Terrifying.
I will continue to not think about it as I begin the third rerun of tonight’s Game of Thrones episode. And perhaps I’ll stay up until three reading book #4. Because if these are my last few weeks to make poor decisions, hate myself in the morning for only getting three hours of sleep, and survive the day after a night of too-little-sleep by subsisting on too-much-coffee, I will take advantage of every opportunity.
And, perhaps, one weekend soon when I’m feeling particularly rebellious, I’ll have more ramblings to write and another update to post.
Until then, my darlings, stay wonderful.
Mini Cheesecake Tarts
Adapted from Culinary in the Country
Yields 12 mini cheesecakes
Ingredients for the crust:
- 1 cup AP flour
- 1/3 cup almond flour
- 2 tbsp packed brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 6 tbsp butter, cold and cut into cubes
Ingredients for the filling:
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- pinch salt
Method to prepare the crust:
Preheat oven to 425F and generously grease a 12-cup mini cheesecake pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, almond flour, brown sugar, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or your hands, work the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse sand. If mixture is too dry or isn’t coming together, sprinkle in a teaspoon or two of water.
Evenly divide crumb mixture among the 12 cheesecake wells. Press firmly to the bottom and about 1/2-inch up the sides. (A shot glass works wonders, here.) Bake until set and lightly golden, 8-10 mins. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Method to prepare the filling:
Preheat oven to 325F.
Beat cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add in egg, vanilla, sour cream, and salt, and beat until fully incorporated. Evenly divide mixture between the cheesecake wells and pour about 2 tbsp-worth of filling over the cooled crusts. Smooth the tops with the back of a spoon.
Bake until just set, 20-25 mins. Remove pan and place on a wire rack to cool for about 30 mins. Place pan in the fridge and allow cheesecakes to chill for at least 2 hours before removing from the pan.
Top cheesecakes with chocolate sauce, fruit jam, or any other garnish of choice.