Make a Holiday Treat for any Season!
Mini cheesecakes are just the right amount of special to enhance any holiday feast. Even if it’s just an occasion hosting a few people, offering these small holiday treats will elevate the gathering to a special event.
There are a couple of ways to create mini cheesecakes, one using individual cake pans made specifically for the job, and the other using a mini cheesecake pans that resemble the more familiar cupcake pans. Even if you don’t have either of the pans, you can make them in a 9×13 pan and use a cutter to separate each individual cake.
One fundamental thing to keep in mind: The cheesecake needs to chill overnight before cutting into mini’s, so prepare them the day before your event. The topping can be put together the day before also, cutting down on the prep time the day of the celebration.
Of course, the mini cheesecake pans work best, however if you’re using the 9×13 pan approach, cutting out the mini’s is a bit challenging. The chilled cheesecake is sticky, requiring you to wash the cutter between cakes. After a bit of practice you’ll produce lovely small cheesecake to beautify your table. Without cutter or pans, these cakes can also be lovely when cut up into bars. Get creative with your presentation and you’ll still have a festive addition to your dinner table.
Built on a chocolate graham cracker crust and topped with an orange infused cranberry sauce, these mini cheesecakes are the perfect complement for any turkey dinner. If there’s no turkey at the table, you can top with a fruit that more closely suits the favor pallet of your meal. Take your pick and enjoy creating your own version of this fun treat. They’ll dress up your table and help make any occasion even more special.
Mini Cranberry Cheesecakes with a Chocolate Crust
The following recipe makes approximately eight mini cheesecakes, depending on the size of your mold or cutter. The recipe also works for a standard 10” pan if you’d rather.
Remember to chill the cheesecake before attempting to cut out the minis.
You will need a 3″ round cutter if you’re making the mini cakes.
1 1/2 c ground chocolate graham crackers (about 12 entire sheets)
1/3 c sugar
1/4 c plus 2 Tbsp melted butter
5 8-oz bundles of room temperature cream cheese
1 c sugar
3 Tbs flour
1 8-oz container sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbs orange liqueur
3/4 c sugar
4 Tbs water
2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbs water
1 bag fresh cranberries (12 oz bag)
2 oranges to zest (for the topping) and peel (for garnish)
Pre-heat the oven to 350°. Blend the chocolate crackers and sugar in a food processor till finely ground. Add butter and pulse till mixed. Line a 9 × 13 pan with foil and lightly coat the surface with cooking spray, or use nonstick foil. Press the mixture evenly into the pan and then bake about 10 minutes to set the crust. Take it from the oven and let it cool while you make the filling.
Make the filling:
Reduce your oven temp to 325° while you perform the following. Use an electric mixer to soften the cream cheese, then add the sugar and mix until blended well. Once blended smooth, add the flour, then the eggs, one at a time, mixing the first in completely before adding the second. Finally, add the sour cream, vanilla extract and orange liqueur. Blend.
Pour the blended mixture onto your crust, smoothing flat with a spatula, and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until set. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool, then refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
Make the topping:
Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat, until the sugar dissolves, then add the cornstarch mixture and bring to a simmer. Add the cranberries and cook until they start to pop. It should only take 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in one orange’s zest and remove from heat. Pour your mixture into a bowl and refrigerate until it’s completely cool.
Using a 3” round cutter sprayed with cooking spray (or run under water), cut out cheesecake rounds by pressing the cutter all the way through to the bottom of the pan. Use a spatula to remove the cheesecakes from the pan and a wet spoon to press them from the cutter. They come out best when pressed from the crust side; however cheesecake is sticky so use the wet spoon to repair any cosmetic damage. Set the cheesecakes right side up on your service choice and repair any imperfections.
Once you have all your cheesecakes ready for their toppings, add the cranberries (or topping of your choice!) on top of each cake and garnish with fresh orange peel.
NOTE: This process will leave you with odds and ends trimmings that can go in the fridge for several days worth of delicious snacking!
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