Mini Raspberry Cheesecakes (Crack in a cup)

I first found this gem of a recipe over at Oh Sweet Basil this summer. She adapted it from a Martha Stewart recipe, and I’ve gone on to tweak it further. Since then, I’ve made these little suckers a handful of times with my additions here and there.

 

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Given that this recipe has been an absolute hit with everyone who’s tasted it, I thought it was about time I shared the love. You’ll need the following items.

for the crust:

  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
for the filling:
  • 1 cup heavy cream (whipping cream)
  • 1 1/4 cups cream cheese, room temperature (I prefer the Philadelphia sticks, or Liberte brand)
  • 3/4 cup crème fraîche (you can pre-purchase, or make your own)
  • touch of lemon or orange zest for added flavour
  • 2/3 cup  icing sugar
for the raspberry sauce:
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries (or frozen, but I’m a purist)
  • fresh raspberries, for garnish

First up, the crust. Line a muffin tin with saran wrap, with a lot of slack to cover the cups themselves. In a small mixing bowl, stir the sugar, graham cracker crumbs and melted butter together until combined. When it’s fully combined, spread the crust mixture evenly among the cups, pressing the mix against the mould to form your “crust cup”. Once you’ve formed your moulds, put the tin in the freezer to set the forms.

For the filling, grab your electric mixer with whisk attachment and beat the daylights out of the cream until medium to firm peaks form, carefully place your whipped cream into another bowl, and then return your bowl to the mixer. Throw on your paddle attachment, and beat the cream cheese, creme fraîche, and icing sugar until fully combined. Now, fold in your whipping cream into your base mixture until smooth and combined. Scoop your filling into your now set moulds, and freeze until everything settles and firms up.

While these are in the freezer setting, get your raspberry sauce going. In a small saucepan, mix the cornstarch, sugar and water, and then add your 1.5 cups of raspberries and cook, stirring it steadily until everything comes to a boil. Once it boils, let it cook, while stirring for about another 2 minutes. Grab a medium or fine sieve and pour the sauce into a bowl to help separate the seeds. Let this all cool to room temperature.

Finally, gently remove your mini cheesecakes from the muffin tin, and drizzle with your raspberry sauce. Top them off with your left over fresh raspberries, and serve! You can prep this a day or two ahead of when you intend to serve, and I find that they preserve well in the freezer for a week or so.

I know this recipe sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. Start to finish, I think I spend on average 40 minutes. It’s a sure fire hit, and you might find your diners reaching for a second without even noticing it!

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The greatness of sandwiches

A while back, I talked about a journal I stumbled upon, called 642 Things to Write About. I’ve been fairly diligent in writing every day, sometimes twice. So as part of the new direction of this blog, I give you the second in this creative writing series.

“The greatness of sandwiches.”

Sandwiches are perfect. Straight up, they are legitimately p-e-r-f-e-c-t. They don’t discriminate in their length or width or smell, if they’re regulated as a side to a soup, or if they’re your entree. Sandwiches just want to be there for you, to be eaten, and savoured. The perfect sandwich will aim to please you so greatly, you’ll come back to them. They are not unlike your own personal yes-man. Hungry? Yes-man. Want a delicious sandwich that’s the perfect mix of protein, seasoning, garnish and cheese? Yes-man. I reiterate, sandwiches, you are perfect.

If done right, you, the eater, are faced with this perfect equilibrium of your choice of protein, dairy, vegetables and bread. This is the stuff dreams are made of. A good sandwich can fill you up. A great sandwich can turn your day around and put you in a better mood. An epic sandwich? That will change your life in a way you never imagined.

Consuming an epic sandwich means you’ve hit some various criteria: the ideal crunch-to-softness ratio has been achieved, there’s just enough flavouring to your meat or substitute so as to not overpower you, the right combination of salty and sweet has been met in your vegetable additions and somewhere in there, you’ve added in delicious cheese to ooze every where, or bring out the flavours further in your wonderful gastro-experiment.

Case and point, this example from a local Vancouver eatery, Meat and Bread, their slow braised beef brisket with cabbage.

I have consumed many a sandwich in my day, from the ho-hum mystery lunch meat specials, to a solid PBJ (Organic peanut butter and home made jam, of course), to amazing finds on the go in Vancouver and abroad. Thankfully, sandwiches are one way that experimenting with foods and combinations can actually pay off once in a while. Your adventurous nature is often rewarded in the symphony of deliciousness that unfolds with your first bite. I can verify this is a thing. No, seriously, if you’re ever in Florence, head over to i due fratellini, order the cinghiale piccante con caprino and then come back here and tell me I changed your life.

Prosciutto panini
Prosciutto and provolone on a homemade bun, i due frattelini (please note the massive size of this amazing sandiwch).

The fact that someone can even question the greatness that is the sandwich breaks my heart. ‘Breaking bread’ is a time honoured tradition with friends and family, but why bother breaking it in the first place if you don’t intend on piling it high with amazing ingredients, revering it for what it is (the best sit down or on the go food around), and stuffing your face?