Monday, December 27, 2010

Mini Cheesecakes: The Cure For What Ails Ya

I have decided to reward myself with dessert.  When I refrain from shaking my fist at my parking neighbor, who thinks he can use one and a half parking spots because in his mind, I must drive a motorcycle and only need a half a parking spot, I give myself a cookie.  When I stop myself from screaming at some kid who drives his grocery cart over my toes, I get a candy bar.  And when my neighbor plays the same Enrique Iglesias on repeat (and insists on singing along in his not so great Espanol), I get a piece of fudge.  Two if Enrique-wannabe is singing ballads.

I know parents generally advise against the dessert for good behavior strategy.  They say this prompts kids to throw tantrums when desserts are not offered.  But since I'm both the kid and the adult in my house, I'm gonna go with what works.  And gosh darn it, I'm going to throw a tantrum when I'm not rewarded for putting up with my Enrique-minus-the-charm-and-the-looks neighbor's singing.

Last Saturday was a day that definitely deserved a reward.  Nothing particularly disaster-worthy happened and yet, it seemed the universe was just demanding a full-on dessert tantrum.  The grocery store ran out of half & half.  I went to the dairy clerk and asked if they had any half & half in the back and a Who's on First exchange followed.  He thought it hilarious to keep asking, "You want half of what?"  I tried everything.  I tried describing the container, pointing to where they normally sit, even calling it coffee cream.  And you know what the clerk replied, "You want half of coffee cream?"  GAH!  When he suggested that I use a flavored half & half substitute or worse yet, a powdered creamer instead, I felt the tremors of a tantrum and knew it was best to walk away.  But not before I added a Kit Kat bar to my grocery cart.

So I did what any kid/adult would do to recover.  I made mini cheesecakes.  Yes, they are like a big cheesecake except they are better.  Allow me to explain:

  1) You don't have to worry about a water bath or covering an unwieldy springform pan with foil;
  2) It's easier to tell when they're done;
  3) You won't feel bad eating six of them because they're mini!

The recipe is a combination of Wolfgang Puck and the Philadelphia classic cheesecake gracing the boxes of bagel spread for eons.  Top with strawberries or a fruit of your choice to help meet your daily fruit requirements on the pesky food pyramid.   I used ramekins to bake them because well, I find comfort in small dishes.  But keep in mind, ramekins yield a small'esque cheesecake and not a truly mini cheesecake.  Which I'm okay with because well, more cheesecake is better than less cheesecake.  If you're truly searching for a mini cheesecake, I've also used a muffin pan and a darling mini cheesecake pan that I borrowed from a friend.

And yes, I ate my Kit Kat while baking these which led the hubster to innocently suggest, "What if we made Kit Kat cheesecakes?"  And that's when I knew, Kit Kat cheesecake would likely hold the most giant tantrum at bay.

Mini Cheesecakes

1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray ramekins or mini muffin pan with cooking spray. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter with fork. Spoon about 2-3 tablespoons of crust mixture in each well. Press crumbs down with the back of a spoon. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Place the cream cheese, sugar, and salt in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle or beaters, on medium speed, beat until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides and under the beaters with a rubber spatula. Turn the speed to high and continue to beat until nice and creamy. Stop the machine, add the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla, then, on medium speed, continue beating until well blended. Add eggs and beat just until combined. Divide mixture amongst the wells with the crumb bases. Bake 15-20 minutes until set. Remove from oven and cool completely. Refrigerate for two hours.

Once cheesecakes have cooled completely, run sharp knife around each cheesecake and remove from pan or ramekin.

Strawberry Coulis

1 cup frozen unsweetened strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

In a medium saucepan, combine the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cool completely and spoon on to prepared cheesecakes.

Filling adapted from Wolfgang Puck, crust from Philadelphia Cream Cheese, and strawberry coulis from Epicurious.


  1. THAT, my dear, is the perfect reward! I'll have to remember to reward myself when our neighbor trims the hedges down to a nub!

  2. I think you are on to something here - the next time Ali or Maya drives me nuts I am going to reach for some chocolate. Brilliant plan. Except what happens when I no longer fit in my jeans? I'd have to reach for more chocolate and then...well it can be a vicious circle. :)

    I must admit I am not a cheesecake fan but the strawberry coulis may very well change my mind!

    Looking forward to Thursday!!

  3. Ok, I'm starting the reward system for myself. I've definitely been missing out. Thank you VERY much for this non-chocolate treat. It's perfect.

  4. OH yumm! And I have to agree, you definitely need a reward. Thank the lord my son also likes fruit for dessert hahaha (= He'd also love your cheesecakes.

  5. What a great idea. I absolutely love cheesecake. Now if it were chocolate cheesecake it would be heaven. Thnx for this.

  6. last time i tried to reward myself with mini cheesecakes they were a disaster. i think it was the recipe. i will follow yours next time i decide i need a dessert reward. which is as often as you, because you know us lawyers--we can convince ourselves of anything.

    so, i have to ask--does he sing Solo En Ti? i know that song by heart and you should be lucky *i'm* not the one singing it.

  7. What an awesome reward for dealing with stupid/selfish/thoughtless folks. I love minis. And I'm with the hubster. Mini KitKat cheesecakes. Mmmm.

  8. Mini cheesecakes seem like a perfect reward to me. Maybe I'll make some for my neighbours who suffer through my singing (no Enrique, but still probably not pleasant).

  9. Yay! Eating 6 mini cheesecakes sounds so much better than "I ate an entire cheesecake." Also, any cheesecake that doesn't involve a water bath is OK with me. These look delicious!


  10. What is it about cheesecake that makes us eat so much of it? I can stop after one brownie, a kiddie cone with just one scoop is plenty. But boy with cheesecake, I keep going back and slicing one little slice after another.

  11. yum!! And I'm totally with you... go ahead and reward yourself :)

  12. Thanks. Now I have "Hero" stuck in my head--though I'm sure "I Like It" has been on repeat for your listening pleasure.

    My mom used to make these cheesecake "cupcakes" that are awesome and easy (and she still busts them out at big parties, but they make a lot of them). They are so easy because you drop a vanilla wafer cookie in a cupcake paper and fill with a little cheesecake filling. SO GOOD.

    Yours, though, are much more realistic when fixing a reward dessert. And I am all in favor of a reward dessert/glass of wine/awesome beer, because my

  13. Well I won't hold your Enrique comment against you (since I have a mild crush) and only because you're my friend. Besides tantrums, the grudges could also be kept at bay if I were offered a mini cheesecake or two. Mini-size is always better.

    Happy New Year!

  14. nice rewarding strategy. even i do it sometimes. nothing is more soothing than chocolate specially when picked up at the checkout counter..

    the recipe looks good. but i took an oath that i am not going to bake any sweet treats for one month( too much of holiday goodies). after that the first one i am planning to try are your easter scones.

  15. Azmeena, we all need treats like this once in a while. look at those mini cakes! they look sinfully satisfying. i think you just gave me an idea about what to treat myself with next time when the neighbors upstairs make noise. =D

  16. wow!! I have to say I like your way of thinking! I do love my desserts, I guess thats why I got a treadmill for! Your mini cheesecakes looks sooo delicious I wish I could taste them!!! cheesecake for breakfast sounds pretty good right about now!!
    Have a great day!

  17. these look so cute and tasty! I could definitely go for a cheesecake...or two right now. Ive got the worst cold! ...although you'd think Id be going for soup but cheesecake sounds more comforting.

  18. All I can say is thank goodness for stretch jeans.
    Well, that and your cheesecake photo is superb!

  19. You always make me laugh. I think cheesecake can cure most ills...and I know it can definitely help a bad day turn a bit brighter! We have a neighbor who thinks he's in a band...I go crazy! One of these treats would certainly help. I hope you are having a lovely week. Thank you for always sharing such great eats with me.

  20. Azmina, it seems that "those" days are accumulating:)Unlike you, I reach for a slice of cheese, or a couple of olives.
    But these cheesecakes would be perfect for my kids, who love desserts, but ignore them the next day. And who can resist the miniature cheesecake?
    I do not not much of Enrique's music, but Julio can croon until tomorrow, with me only blissfully grinning:)

  21. I'm a big fan of rewarding myself with dessert. In fact, I made a deal with myself that if I lose ten pounds I'll get to have a huge slice of cheesecake. counterintuitive? Maybe. Necessary? Yes.

    Love the sound of these! I think they are the PERFECT size!

  22. I love your thought process! I wouldn't even have to have a reason to reward myself with cheesecake, and yes it is another food group! I'm really wanting to make a kit kat one! I got one of the mini cheesecake pans for Christmas, I can't wait to use it.

  23. And if you eat mini-cheesecakes standing up, the calories don't count. Or so I heard ...

  24. As usual: great presentation!

  25. Kit kat cheesecakes! Do it!!!!
    Hilarious story. Who doesn't know what half and half is?

  26. Omg, I hate it when people cannot stay between the parking lines. I don't mind it so much when there's snow on the ground covering the lines, but it drives me crazy when the lines are visible.

    I'd love to one day be able to say I ate 6 cheesecakes and I think you just found my perfect solution. These look fabulous, Azmina. I'm a big cheesecake fan. I'll have to admit, after looking at these, I don't know if 6 would be enough for me - drool!

  27. I could use some cheesecake :)

    I just read your about page and it hit home. I am an engineer that works 50+ hrs a week with no time... started a blog about a year ago... but work, training and nasty comments on my blog left me exhausted and so in October I stopped blogging. I miss it a lot and am thinking about going back to it starting January. However I have to say it is good to see other bloggers with a FULL time job bloggig :)

    Happy New Year!

  28. Incompetent people that work in shops piss me off no end. There are times when all I want to do is shake them & scream, 'HOW DO YOU FUNCTION IN LIFE?!' But I can't, so instead I quietly fume and then vent about it on Twitter ;)

    So YES. Mini cheesecakes! Mini. Cheesecakes. Man. What else in life do you really need? And I would totally eat all six. Don't judge.

    Jax x

  29. I love that your husband totally gets it and comes up with the brilliant suggestion for kit kat cheesecakes! How awesome is that? Sometimes you just need to spoil your inner child with some sweets :-)

  30. Oh these are awesome with aa GREAT story - I mean seriously with the half of what???? I can't believe you didn't have him FIRED :) You are a goooood soul.

    Awesome cheesecakes that allow us to eat six, in very small portions. yea!! I must do these instead of one BIG one.

    This is a wonderful dish - I always love your medley of flavors. POMS are wonderful in everything and have that lvoely otuch of exotic.

    Here's wishing you & yours a GLORIOUS New Year!

    Chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  31. You deserve all of the treats! lovely mini cheesecakes!I'm so glad I met {on twitter} such a wonderful person like you, Azmina...hope to meet you at one of the bloggie conferences one day! :)
    Happy New Year!

  32. We deserve to treat ourselves to a good dessert every now and then. The minis look super cute.

    Happy 2011!


  33. I reward myself with dessert all the time-there's never any need for justification :)

    your cheesecakes look so cute and delish.

    happy new year, azmina! all the best!

  34. I love your coping mechanism and would adopt your reward system if I wasn't afraid my pants wouldn't button in the next month.
    I also own a mini-springform pan, but ramekin desserts are so adorable that I think the latter wins.

  35. Great post! I always read your blog for the laughs AND the recipes :-) How about Butterfinger cheesecake?

  36. I reward myself with chocolate all the time but its what I feel after having it that makes it worse, i.e. I need more!

    I love mini desserts, its also why i like cupcakes over a whole cake, I know how much I'm eating, I can kind of stop at 2 piece (or 3?). It just makes eating dessert sensible (whats that?)

  37. I absolutely love mini desserts and especially cheesecakes .Your cheesecake looks delicious , yummmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  38. I enjoyed your opening paragraph, I just had to laugh as you and I think the same. Why is it that children do this thing with the shopping cart? I'm very particular about my shoes - don't touch the shoes! I admit, I luv Enrique. :)

    These mini cheesecakes turned out elegant and perfect size without over indulging. Is the recipe for about 4 small cheesecakes/ramekin sized? Nicely done!

  39. yummy yum yum!!! can't wait to try it :D thanks!

  40. Thanks for sharing such an interesting information.


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