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.
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
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.
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.