Sunday, 22 April 2012

Recipe: Mini vanilla and chocolate baked cheesecakes

Individual chocolate and vanilla cheesecake with a caramelised sugar lattice and mini eggs

I dreamed up the idea of these mini cheesecakes for a dinner party with friends a few weeks ago, I think mini single deserts look really special and I like the idea that each portion is a stand alone desert in it's own right. These are vanilla and chocolate layered baked cheesecakes, with a hobnob biscuit base, topped with a caramelised sugar lattice and mini eggs (kind of a conceptual birds nest if you will...), I was working with an Easter-y theme, but a single chocolate truffle would be a suitable and arguably much more decadent substitute!

How to...

Makes 10 mini cheesecakes

Ingredients:

For the base:

175g hobnobs / oaty biscuits
50g butter

For the cheesecake:
350g full fat curd cheese
350g soft cheese
3 large eggs
175g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
100g dark chocolate, melted

For the topping:
150g caster sugar
30 mini eggs / chocolatey topping of your choice

You will need:
8cm diameter silicone cake moulds
Baking paper

Pre-heat the oven to 150C

The biscuit base:
Put the biscuits into a freezer bag and bash with a rolling pin until they are neatly crushed, pour the crushed biscuits into a bowl. Melt the butter gently in a saucepan and pour on top of the biscuit mixture, then mix with a wooden spoon until evenly combined.

Scoop approximately a tablespoon full of the biscuit-butter mixture into each silicone mould and press down with your fingers.

Place the silicone moulds into the fridge to firm up the biscuit base while you prepare the cheesecake mixture.


The cheesecake:
Combine the curd cheese, soft cheese, eggs, sugar and vanilla extract until the mixture is smooth, then pour half the mixture into a different bowl.

Add the melted dark chocolate to one of the bowls of cheesecake mixture and stir until the consistency and colour is even - you now have one bowl of vanilla cheesecake mixture and one bowl of chocolate cheesecake mixture.

Remove the biscuit bases from the fridge and spoon one tablespoonful of the vanilla or chocolate mixture into each. Smooth out the top of the mixture in each silicone mould, then top with a spoonful of the contrasting vanilla or chocolate mixture. The silicone cases should be almost full, leave approximately 5mm at the top of each to allow the mixture to rise a little as it bakes.

Place the cheesecakes on the middle shelf in the oven and bake for ten minutes. After ten minutes, turn the oven off, open the door slightly so it's ajar and leave the cheesecakes in the oven to cool completely- this should prevent cracking.

Once cooled, carefully remove each cheesecake from the silicone mould and transfer to the fridge to chill.

The topping:
Lay out sheets of baking paper in preparation for making the sugar lattices.

Put the sugar into a saucepan and heat gently until it melts, when the melted sugar becomes a pale caramel colour turn the heat off, if the sugar gets much darker it will have burnt.

Working quickly, use a teaspoon to carefully lift a spoonful of the caramel from the pan, quickly drizzle onto the baking paper to form ten lattice shapes approximately the same diameter as the cheesecakes.

You will need to work very quickly at this stage, as the sugar will start to cool down rapidly and its pliability will diminish.
The lattices can be quite messy and will still look fab

Leave the lattices to set before gently peeling them off the baking paper - they should be quite easy to remove.

Finishing touches:
Leave the finishing touches until you are just about to serve the cheesecakes, if you add the lattices too soon they will lose their crispness. Top each cheesecake with a caramelised lattice and a couple of mini eggs / truffles. Et voila! Enjoy.



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