If you’ve looked at the dessert section in my cookbook, you’ll know I’m really fond of very fast and simple sweets. Don’t get me wrong, I love to bake; I’m my mother’s daughter. But there’s something fine and easy about a really good tiny after-dinner something or other that doesn’t take a couple of hours to concoct. To say nothing of being able to pawn off the dessert “chore” to children or the beauty of keeping the heat out of the kitchen on warm days. Peach pie always sounds so wonderful until the peaches are ripe, filling the bushel basket in the mudroom with dripping goodness, and it’s 90-frigging degrees outside. Who’s turning on that oven? Not me. Heat is not Alyce’s friend. On the other hand, I have a hub who adores a dessert and I like to make this guy happy. I make a big cheesecake for him every third of July at 0’dark early for his birthday and he doles it out for himself a bit at a time to make it last a long week or more. I have one small piece and that’s about it.
But what about the rest of the time? The days when there isn’t a three-hour time frame for mixing, baking, and cooling? Or for folks who are never going to make that big cake no matter what? Or for sweet addicts who really would eat the whole cake if there weren’t individual portions? Enter these tiny bites of fruit-topped goodness that are done before you can say, “What’s for dessert?” Mixed very quickly with a hand-held or standing electric mixer or food processor (my preference), the cakes come together easily, cook for a minute in the microwave, and cool in just a few minutes as they’re so small. Who doesn’t like individual desserts? Easy to serve or transport; there’s no cutting or plates. It’s just you and your fork or spoon. Try this:
MINI CHEESECAKES WITH GLAZED BERRIES–1 MINUTE IN THE MICROWAVE
Makes approximately 10 servings using 6-ounce ramekins. Recipe can be cut in half (use 2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk)
- 4 8-ounce packages softened cream cheese–I use low-fat cream cheese
- 2 teaspoons each fresh lemon juice and vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 5 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons whipping cream or whole milk
- Purchased thin chocolate or ginger wafers for “crust,” optional
- 1-2 cups assorted berries for garnish
- 2/3 cup apricot preserves, warmed briefly in small pan on stove or in microwave for glaze
1. With an electric mixer or in a food processor, beat or process the cream cheese with the lemon juice and vanilla extract until very smooth—3 or 4 minutes. Add sugar, flour and salt; beat/process well. Add one egg at a time, beating/processing after each addition. Stir in cream or milk; mix well.
2. To the bottom of each ramekin or microwave-safe bowl, add a thin chocolate or ginger wafer, if desired. They may float up in the batter after cooking rather than staying at the bottom where you’d like them! Or you can add a cookie into the top of the baked and decorated cakes–as above photo. (You can also use a vanilla wafer, but you’ll have a much thicker crust.)
3. Using a measuring cup, fill each ramekin or small microwave-safe bowl 2/3 full of the cheesecake mixture and one or two at a time, cook in the microwave at full power for a minute for one and a minute and 20 seconds for two–approximately.*. If still somewhat liquid at center, cook another 10 seconds at a time until just barely firm. Don’t overcook. Cheesecakes will firm further as they cool. Repeat until all batter is used.
4. Let cakes cool at least briefly, then top with fresh berries. You can brush the berries with a little heated apricot preserves for a shiny glaze. (Use a small spoon for the preserves if you haven’t a pastry brush.) If time, chill in the fridge for a few hours or eat immediately if you’re that desperate. I won’t tell.
Store all leftovers (without fruit) tightly wrapped in refrigerator up to one week. If you’ve added the fruit and glaze, a day or two is the most you’d want to keep them and that only in a pinch. May store unused batter covered in refrigerator up to one day.
*Each microwave is a little different. You may need to try one or two cheesecakes to determine how long to cook the cakes in your microwave. They can probably be baked in a traditional oven just like a regular cheesecake or in a 9×13 (or larger) cake pan filled part-way with hot water. 300 degrees F for a half hour or until just barely set.
♥♥♥ The day I made these at work, I had a little batter leftover and came home to make a few in my own kitchen. Our kids and grandkids and some friends were visiting… Everyone had just eaten or was trying to skip dessert, more’s the pity. I had half of one, Dave had another, and we shared the rest with our happy neighbors! Sigh. Anyway, here’s Piper–nearly 11 months– with her mom and Tucker.
Did I say it’s our 41st anniversary tomorrow? Happy us!
Below: Dave was a trombone player in college, but he played the sousaphone in the marching band. Here we are smooching under the bell at a football game in 1973.
Stay cool in the kitchen, Alyce