Thursday, 19 December 2013

Mini Christmas cheesecakes

Christmas preparations are well underway in our little household. We have been doing lots of Christmas crafts (which I will hopefully do a post on in the next few days) and I have been cooking lots of yummy Christmas treats. In the last week I've made apricot balls, ginger balls, rocky road, two batches of caramel fudge, and some gingerbread men. I love being able to spread some Christmas cheer through food!

Today's creation is some mini cheesecakes that I cooked for our mothers group Christmas party. 

I had seen a recipe for a very cute gingerbread cheesecake which had a gingerbread biscuit base, gingerbread flavoured filling and some gorgeous little gingerbread men on top. I wasn't sure whether the three lots of gingerbread would be a bit too much for some, so I decided to make mini cheesecakes and do half with gingerbread flavoured filling and half with a plain filling (I followed the recipe up to the point of adding the eggs, and then I divided the mixture in two equal parts and added half quantities of the golden syrup, spices and lemon zest to one half, and just the lemon zest to the other). Next time though I think I'll just make them all gingerbread flavoured as it was so yummy. As there would be kids at the party as well as us mums, I did some in mini cupcake cases and some in the regular size cupcake cases.

I topped them with mini gingerbread men, stars and trees. I stood the biscuits up on top as I thought that was more effective than lying them down for the individual ones.

I was really happy with the results - the gingerbread flavoured ones weren't overpowering at all - just the right amount of spice. The filling was a beautiful silky texture and the gingerbread crust was amazing. I modified the recipe a bit from the original, and used a different recipe for the gingerbread (which doesn't need beaters to make) so here is my version:

Gingerbread Cheesecake
Makes 24 mini cupcakes

Gingerbread dough (see next recipe)
80g unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup caster sugar

3/4 cup caster sugar
500g cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
30ml golden syrup
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
24 mini gingerbread men/stars/trees(from recipe below)

Preheat oven to 180C. On a piece of baking paper, roll half of the Gingerbread Cookie dough into a rectangle, about 5mm thick.  Slide dough and parchment onto a baking sheet.  Bake until firm and golden brown, about 14 minutes.  Let cool completely on sheet on a wire rack.  Break into large pieces, then pulse in a food processor until finely ground.
Use the other half of the gingerbread dough to make mini gingerbread men, stars and trees. Bake until firm and golden brown, about 10 minutes.

While gingerbread is baking, line two 12-hole standard size muffin trays with paper cases.

Combine butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and 2 cups of gingerbread cookie crumbs in a bowl.  Press a heaped tablespoon of mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of each paper case (use the back of a spoon or a small glass or other flat-bottomed container to get an even top).  Bake until set, about 10 minutes.  Let cool on a rack.

Reduce the oven temperature to 170C.  Beat cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in sugar and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Reduce speed to low.  Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.  Beat in molasses, salt, spices, and lemon zest.  Pour the filling in the prepared and cooled muffin pans.

Bake until cheesecakes are set bull still slightly wobbly in the center, around 20 mins. Remove from the oven and allow the cheesecakes to cool down to room temperature on a wire rack, about 1-2 hours.  Remove cheesecakes from muffin trays and place into a covered container or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (preferably overnight).

Before serving, add a gingerbread biscuit to the top of each cheesecake, and serve immediately.

Gingerbread dough

3 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
125g unsalted butter
3/4 cup golden syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
Sift flour, baking powder and spices into a medium bowl. Melt butter, golden syrup and brown sugar together until smooth.
Add to flour mixture with egg and stir until combined. Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.
If making the gingerbread cheesecake, continue to follow the cheesecake recipe above, otherwise if just making gingerbread biscuits use biscuit cutters to cut out shapes as desired. Carefully lift onto trays and bake at 180C for 12-15 minutes.