Cheesecake has always been one of my favorites. In fact, I love cheesecake so much that it became a staple for birthdays and special occasions. Craig Claiborne’s Chocolate Cheesecake was our family favorite, so much so that my daughter chose it for her birthday party when she turned 8. I lovingly spent more than an hour of prep time, grating graham cracker crumbs, melting chocolate, separating and whipping egg whites. I gave each young guest a generous piece. I can still feel my horror at the waste, as each girl other than my daughter picked at her slice, leaving it mainly uneaten, but not pristine enough to eat myself.
After that learning experience, we decided to reserve our special treat for family, and the next year for my daughter’s party, I baked a boxed cake (which I had never done before as an adult) that the kids literally ate up.
My daughter experienced her own headache with a cheesecake, deciding to make a gluten-free version for my birthday, but using a water bath around the spring form pan. The entire cake turned to soup, and I never got to see it. Her version was complex, with gluten-free cookie crumbs as part of the base.
Here’s a simple, easy, and delicious cheesecake without a crust. These mini-cheesecakes are so light that there’s no guilt in eating one. I’ve brought them to potlucks so that I can partake in a decadent dessert, and everyone raves.
3 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese – softened
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Base: Cream the sugar with the cream cheese, adding eggs individually, followed by the vanilla. Using two muffin tins lined with cupcake wrappers, fill each of the 24 cups approximately 2/3 full. (Use an old-fashioned ice cream scoop with the metal piece that helps get the batter out.) Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool for 5-10 minutes while making topping.
Topping: Mix sour cream, sugar, and vanilla with a wire whisk. Then spoon onto each mini-cheesecake. Bake an additional 5 to 7 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow to cool in pans before storing in refrigerator. Yield: 24 cupcakes. Freezes well.
I brought these to my grandson’s first birthday and wondered how he’d react when I tested a small bit in his mouth. He must be my grandson, because his eyes lit up, and he gobbled what I shared. I guess the secret to creating a cheesecake lover is to start them young.