Archive for the ‘Cakes – Cheesecake’ Category
Key lime pie is one of my favorite summertime desserts. Cool and creamy, it is easy to make and always refreshingly zesty. Key limes are known for their sharp, bright flavor and it goes well with other creamy desserts besides key lime pie. These Key Lime Mini Cheesecakes are a good example and a current favorite way to enjoy their flavor.
The cheesecake filling is made with a mixture of cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk. The sweetened condensed milk adds a little extra sweetness to the filling, but it also gives the cheesecake a hint of its distinctive flavor, which is a huge part of a traditional key lime pie. It is flavored with both fresh lime juice and lime zest. Key limes will give your cheesecakes a great flavor, but you can use regular limes instead if you can’t find them in your local grocery store. Be sure to use fresh lime juice (not bottled) and fresh zest to ensure that your mini cheesecakes get as much citrus flavor as possible.
Chocolate and lime are actually a very good combination, and so I used the same chocolate crumb crust that I used for my Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes with this recipe. You can easily substitute graham crackers in place of the chocolate wafer cookies if you would prefer to use a graham cracker crust instead. Both flavor options create a crumb crust is be a great base for the little cheesecakes, with just enough crispiness and flavor to balance out the creamy filling.
The finished cheesecakes have a bright lime flavor that goes extremely well with the tangy cream cheese. I particularly like the way that the chocolate crust adds an extra layer of flavor to the filling. They’re the perfect size for a single-serving – small, but still big enough to be satisfying – because they are baked in muffin tins. The cheesecake isn’t too dense or heavy, but it has a nice creaminess to it that will hit the spot when you are in the mood for cheesecake. If you want to dress them up, you can plate them and garnish them with a lime twist and a dollop of whipped cream, or you can simply peel back the muffin wrappers and eat them as-is.
Cheesecakes are a delicious dessert, but they seem to become even more irresistible when they are scaled down into small, single serving sizes. I attribute this to the fact that cheesecakes are not only decadent, but rather filling, and it is easier to resist a large slice of a full sized cheesecake than a small and snackable version. They also take much less time to bake from start to finish, so you can get your cheesecake fix much more quickly.
These Chocolate Mini Cheesecakes with Chocolate Crumb Crust are for those who love chocolate as much as they love cheesecake. The cheesecake filling is flavored with cocoa powder and melted chocolate, and it sits on top of a chocolate crumb crust. The crust adds a nice crispy texture to the cheesecake and, since the chocolate wafer cookies used to make the crust actually have a very intense bittersweet flavor to them, they boost the chocolate flavor very well. The filling isn’t as rich as a chocolate truffle would be, but it has a nice chocolate flavor and you can still taste the tang of the cream cheese in every bite. Speaking of bites, you will probably get 2-4 bites from each mini cheesecake.
I decorated the tops of my cheesecakes with a little bit of cheesecake batter that I tinted with a bit of the melted chocolate. If you want to do the same thing, simply mix about a tablespoon of chocolate cheesecake batter into a tiny bowl with whatever melted chocolate didn’t make it into your batter when you poured it in (in other words, save a very small amount of it, just enough to change the color of the reserved cheesecake batter). Pour this into a piping bag, pastry cone or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and pipe stripes of dark batter onto the top of each mini cheesecake before baking. Drag a toothpick through the stripes to create the zig-zag design ( and be sure to watch a how-to video here).
There are mini cheesecake pans on the market, but I made these in regular muffin cups lined with paper liners. To get the cheesecakes out of the muffin wrappers, be sure to chill them thoroughly in the fridge before serving – once they’re cold, the wrappers should peel off easily and you’ll be able to dig in.
An icebox cake gets its name from the fact that this is not a cake that is baked, but one that sets up in the refrigerator – a.k.a. the icebox, hence the name. The cakes are usually made with a mousse-like mixture that is stacked with layers of crisp cookies, like chocolate wafer cookies or graham crackers, and left to setup and meld together in the fridge. You can put together an icebox cake with any flavors, but this Chocolate Ricotta Icebox Cake is a great basic recipe because it is chocolate (which just about everybody loves) and so easy to make!
The cake reminds me a bit of a ricotta cheesecake, as it has a hint of ricotta texture to it and is lighter than a cheesecake made with cream cheese would be. It is not very sweet, however, and you can really taste the dark chocolate. For this reason, I definitely recommend using a dark chocolate that you like the flavor of – and choose one this is not too dark or bitter, or your icebox cake might be a little too bitter from the chocolate. I definitely recommend using dark chocolate that is no more than 65% cacao or so in this, rather than something darker. And also know that you can even get away with using semisweet chocolate chips in a batch and still get a nice, chocolatey result.
To assemble the cake, you spread chocolate wafer cookies with the ricotta and chocolate mixture and stack them together, then lay the stacks into a loaf pan and surround them with more of the ricotta mixture. This is one of the easiest ways to put the cake together, and allows for a fast assembly. Serve the cake with chocolate shavings and whipped cream to lighten it up and highlight the chocolate even more.
This cake needs to be refrigerated, so plan to make it well in advance of when you want to serve it. It should chill at least overnight (12 hours) for the best results, and it will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 or 3 days. IF you want to keep it longer, try freezing the cake and defrosting it in the fridge a few hours before you want to serve it.
Many cheesecakes, made only with cream cheese, have a dense and creamy texture. This makes the cheesecakes feel indulgent, but you don’t always want a dessert that feels so heavy. One way to lighten up a cheesecake is by adding ricotta cheese. By blending the ricotta with cream cheese, you still get a good cream cheese flavor but with the much lighter texture of the ricotta cheese. This Ricotta Cheesecake Slice is one of my favorite versions of a ricotta cheese cheesecake because it’s easy to make, easy to serve and a pleasure to eat.
The cheesecake is baked in a large 9×13-inch baking dish on top of a shortbread crust. This gives you a thinner layer of cheesecake than you might get from a recipe that is baked in a deep, round pan, but it also gives you a dessert that can serve a crowd and is easy to transport. The cheesecake is made with a blend of ricotta and cream cheese, and flavored with vanilla. It has a light, delicate texture and delivers a good cheesecake flavor but feels much airier than a regular cheesecake.
The shortbread crust I used as the base is just as easy to make as the cheesecake, and is simply pressed into the bottom of the pan before baking. It is buttery and lightly sweet, but to add a little more flavor to this batch of cheesecake, I added fresh lemon zest to the crust. The resulting shortbread is good enough that you could eat it by itself, but it adds a delicious pop of lemon to the cheesecake. It brightens the dish up, yet allows the flavor of the ricotta, cream cheese and lemon to still shine.
This type of cheesecake can be cut into any size slices. Smaller slices make a good size for a snack or to take to a party, while larger slices topped with a pile of fresh fruit are perfect for dessert after a nice dinner. Small slivers can also be sliced as needed if the chef (i.e. you) needs something to nibble on in the kitchen. The cheesecake keeps well for several days in the fridge when kept well-wrapped, but should be sliced before serving to keep the crust as crisp as possible.
Vanilla cheesecake is like a blank canvas. The rich, creamy filling is not too sweet and has a very subtle tang to it from all of that cream cheese. While it is tasty plain, it also cries out for something to go with it. Fresh berries, chocolate sauce, fruit coulis and many other things are often added as a topping to vanilla cheesecake to liven it up. You can also liven up a cheesecake by adding something directly into that filling, and that is exactly what I did when putting together this Vanilla Cheesecake with Plum Preserves.
The cheesecake is one of my favorite basic cheesecake recipes. It isn’t the towering, ultra-dense cheesecake you’ll find in the refrigerated case at your local chain restaurant. It has a velvety texture that is dense, but no so heavy you can’t eat a whole slice yourself, and a hint of vanilla flavor that carries through the slightly tangy cream cheese and yogurt filling. I added a generous amount of good quality plum preserves (I used Bonne Maman Plum Preserves) and swirled them into the filling before baking. The large chunks of plum in the preserves sank a bit in the filling, but they still made a lovely contrast with the rest of the cheesecake. You could use other fruit preserves to change up the flavors in this dessert a bit, as well.
My favorite thing about this recipe – apart from eating it once it has cooled, of course – is that this cheesecake is low-fuss and very easy to make. I make a homemade shortbread crust for this recipe, and the filling is poured into the pan while the crust is still hot and put back into the oven for a second baking. I don’t use a water bath and I find that, as a result, I am much more likely to make cheesecake when the craving strikes.
I typically use thick, greek-style yogurt in this cheesecake. It contributes to the richness of the cheesecake and adds a very subtle tang, which keeps the cheesecake from feeling too heavy. Full fat greek-style yogurt (I always use plain) will give you the best results, but low fat and even nonfat will work very well. If you don’t have greek-style yogurt, you can use sour cream, although I would again recommend using full-fat for best results.