Cheesecake is tricky. But when it’s good, it’s worth the frustration. Cheesecake can crack, cave in, or just taste bad. And even when you think you’ve got it figured out, someone tells you they prefer New York style over the Italian variety or vice versa. Maybe they don’t like it baked, and someone else hates when it is. The point is: there are a LOT of different ways to make a cheesecake. I personally prefer the creamy, sweet variety. That’s where this recipe falls. But it can be temperamental.
Today’s recipe is not the easiest when one was has a child to tend to. It’s not that it’s difficult, it’s just time consuming. I wouldn’t turn this into a weekly thing. But it’s really quite nice for special occasions. I’m planning on baking some for a party we will be attending next week.
What you will need
- Mini muffin pans and liners
- Food processor
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 5 tablespoons melted butter
- 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
Mom It Down
Line mini muffin tins with papers. Set aside.
For the crust…
Using your food processor, grind up graham crackers until you have a cup. Transfer to another bowl and set aside. Grind up your walnuts. (A handful of walnuts turned into a little more than 1/4 cup.) Add your graham cracker crumbs and give that a quick stir. Add all the rest of the dry ingredients. Give it a stir. Add the melted butter. Put some into each mini muffin paper and delicately push it down. Set aside. (You do NOT need to pre-bake the crust in this case since the size of each cake is so small.)
For the cake…
Preheat oven to 350.
Add sugar and cream cheese to the mixer. Beat it until creamy. Add sour cream, vanilla, flour and heavy cream. Beat that. Add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating between each one.
You can distribute the batter any way you’d like. I used a pastry bag because it mess-free. (TIP! If you don’t have a pastry bag, you can cut the tip off one corner of a large freezer bag and use that.)
The batter will settle. If it doesn’t, you can either smooth it down using a knife or lightly tap the bottom of the muffin tin onto the counter.
Bake for 20 minutes. DO NOT open the door if you can help it. Turn the light on and keep an eye on them. If it looks like the outsides are browning too much and too quickly, lower the temperature a bit. I ended up lowering mine to about 340 the first time because I got worried.
When the time is up, turn off the oven and open the door a little bit. You can either let them cool in the oven with the door ajar, or if you’re worried about someone getting burned by the oven (like the cat), you can remove them and let them cool on the counter. That’s what I did. After they were perfectly cooled, I put them in the refrigerator to cool for several hours.
Since every single last cheesecake I made yesterday sunk at least a little bit (some even cracked, I’ll get into that a bit later under “Overcoming Obstacles”) I used that opportunity to add a dab of fresh strawberry jam.
I took the original recipe from All Recipes. It was for one large cheesecake. I knew I wanted to make mini muffin-sized cakes, so I thought I’d give it a go. There was a great deal of the criticism that the cakes cracked and/or fell in on themselves. This did happen to me especially with the larger sizes. I read that you have to lower the temperature and I did that for batch two. I lowered it from 350 to 320 and it still fell and cracked—worse even. The good news is, not one of my mini muffin-sized cheesecakes cracked. They did fall in on themselves a bit, but not too much. Plus, I knew I’d be adorning them, so this actually worked out quite well.
I made two larger ones (shown below) and they both cracked and sunk in a great deal. But here’s the skinny: they tasted freaking fantastic. And you guys know how I feel about how things look, right? I’m not planning on winning awards for these. They look OK and they taste awesome. So who cares? Here are pictures of that cake. (Keep in mind, I pre-baked the crusts below for 10 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.)
Not the best looking cake, right?
But OMG so good. One bit in and I totally didn’t care what it looked like anymore.
I’m still very much learning all things cheesecake. In fact, last week I tried a non-bake variety and HATED it. It’s not often I throw out desserts, but that entire cake went into the trash. It was terrible, in my opinion. I will not be attempting the non-bake cheesecake ever again. Not my thing.
Otherwise? I love the stuff, but man can it be temperamental. I am researching ways to overcome the whole cracking situation and judging by what I’ve read so far this is a common problem that people are constantly trying to work out through trial and error. I do plan on doing this again and very soon so I will keep you posted on what I find. In the meantime, feel free to school me on this, cheesecake veterans; I’m all ears.
Also, these did freeze fine overnight. I thawed them to room temperature and baked a batch the following day—it worked out perfectly. So, you can always cut your day in half if you’d like.
Haven’t gone there yet! I want to try and perfect the technique first. (So, it’s likely I’ll never try a variation. heh.) Again, learn me something, Internet.