Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes

The first time I tried cheesecake (New York-style, I believe), I enjoyed it but wasn't blown away. The more I tried, though, the more I fell in love with this creamy dessert. Making them, however, is a different story. I rarely have enough people in the house to finish a whole cheesecake, and most recipes I've encountered call for a copious amount of cream cheese. Not that I have anything against cream cheese, but I have a slight aversion towards using too much dairy products in one recipe (OK, it's because they're fattening!). Another reason I don't make cheesecakes more often is the need for a bain marie, and the fact that my first ever cheesecake cracked despite following all the instructions closely has discouraged me from trying again.

All excuses aside, I recently found a recipe for delicious mini cheesecakes that is both easy and uses a reasonable amount of cream cheese. The mini size of these treats means that baking time is shorter, and this eliminates the need for a bain marie which is used to maintain an even temperature when baking regular-sized cheesecakes. The miniature size also means you don't have to feel guilty for having one! Although from my experience it was a lot easier to pop a couple of these into my mouth than to slice myself the same amount of a regular cheesecake, yikes...

I'll definitely be making these again since they are so easy to whip up, and the fruit filling can be substituted with whatever is available. This doesn't mean I've given up on making regular-sized cheesecakes, though, since Julie at Willow Bird Baking makes it look so easy!

Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes
yields approx. 15-18 mini cakes
adapted from Cook's Country Magazine (original recipe here)

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
5-6 tablespoons butter, melted

1 pkg / 8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup strawberry jam, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 muffin tins with paper liners.

2. For the crust: mix the melted butter with the graham cracker crumbs until well blended. Place a tablespoon of the crust mixture on each paper liner.

3. Place a small dollop of jam on top of each crust.

4. For the filling: beat the cream cheese until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Then add the condensed milk, and after it is mixed in, add the eggs one at a time. Beat the mixture until smooth. Divide the filling evenly between the prepared cheesecake crusts.

5. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the filling has set. Remove from the oven, and cool for 10-15 minutes.

6. Pop in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, and enjoy cold!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Update and a Japanese Snack

So much has happened since the last time I updated: I graduated with my B.Sc., and I currently work full time in a research lab. This leaves little time for things like baking for pleasure, unfortunately, and to be honest I haven't been inspired to bake anything lately. I'm sure that it's only a phase I'm going through right now as I do have other food cravings that I'd like to fulfill and share on my blog sometime soon.

For now, I have a few posts planned of my most recent (i.e. from a month or two ago) creations. While I work on those, I'd like to share a delicious snack I made not too long ago - 大学芋 (daigaku imo), or Japanese "university sweet potatoes." I love root vegetables, especially sweeter ones like yams and sweet potatoes. This snack is basically sweet potatoes that are fried and glazed with a sugar coating. The recipe I used is from Cooking with Dog, one of my favourite cooking channels on YouTube. Here's their video for your viewing pleasure:


I believe this snack is originally deep fried and coated with the glaze, but I tend to avoid deep frying at home so Cooking with Dog's recipe is perfect for me because it only involves pan-frying and steaming the potatoes. For those who aren't afraid of deep frying, these recipes by Just Hungry and I Nom Things look very promising; I'd love to try them out if I ever get a deep fryer.