Sunday, April 10, 2016

Vanilla Bean Mini-Cheesecakes

I have tried many times to make a full-size cheesecake. Epic fails every time. The complex instructions some recipes provide with the promise of a no-fail cheesecake never yielded a perfect outcome. I have been collecting cheesecake recipes for a long time. I thought I'd try some mini cheesecake recipes. I figure the smaller size and therefore shorter baking time would reduce the margin of error. I was right. I found some recipes that had the right elements but not a perfect combination all in one. Like some suggest oreos for the crust, or include lemon juice or zest in the batter. And I didn't want to make a big batch of 24 mini-cakes since it's just me and my daughter eating them. (Husband doesn't eat dairy and these are the real deal.) So after some recipe research I developed this recipe entirely in theory. When I finally did make it, I was in heaven. Perfect. Easy. Foolproof. I hope you like it. 
Vanilla Bean Mini-Cheesecakes 
(Makes 12 in a standard size cupcake pan*)
 
Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare cupcake pan with paper liners. Spray papers a little to help with removal later. 

Graham crust: 
2/3 c. crushed graham crackers
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. butter, melted
Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Using a large spoon, scoop the crust mixture into the cupcake liners. Try to include about the same in each one. Using the plastic lid from a can of Pam spray, press the crust firmly into each cup. 

Filling:
2 packages (8 ounce) cream cheese, full-fat, allow to come to room temperature. 
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste (I use Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste for ALL vanilla extract needs)
2 large eggs

Beat cream cheese and sugar. Add vanilla paste. Add eggs and mix until just blended. Scoop filling on top of crusts, filling almost to the top of the paper. Tap the pan a little to help level the filling.  
Bake for 20-22 minutes. The cheesecakes will be puffy and firm. Allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Remove cheesecakes from cupcake pan and refrigerate 3 hours. Top as desired, or just eat plain. I love how the crust turned out it's like a buttery cookie. Just perfect.

* use plain aluminum pans, not non-stick or dark. I LOVE Nordicware pans best. Their pans are perfect for even heat and bake up perfect cookies, bread, cupcakes, whatever you can make they can bake.