Monday, December 10, 2012

Mini Blackberry Caramel Cheesecakes

I love cheesecake, but for some reason I rarely make it. I was flipping through Alice Medrich's cookbook when I stumbled upon this recipe. I kept turning back to the recipe, so I knew I had to give it a try. It is definitely time consuming, but the end result is delicious. I tried versions of this recipe with and without the caramel sauce, but it is worth the extra effort to make the sauce. I also didn't have ramekins when I made these and used a muffin tin. It works OK, but it's a bit tricky removing the individual cheesecakes when they're all on the same tray. It works, you just need patience. If you do not need as many mini cheesecakes, the recipe can easily be halved.

This dessert would be an impressive addition to any small gathering (a ladies lunch, a family dinner, etc...). Just remember to prepare them the day before. These cheesecakes require a lot of time to set in the fridge. Also, when you're turning them onto your serving dish or individual plates, make sure you flip them over where you want them placed for serving. They are delicate, so I don't suggest moving them around too much. Even with all these finicky little details, I love the end result. If you have time and was to make a beautiful, mouth-watering dessert, these mini cheesecakes are the way to go.

Recipe from A Year in Chocolate: Four Seasons of Unforgettable Desserts by Alice Medrich
Serves 8

For the caramel sauce:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

For the cheesecakes:
6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup boiling water
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
5 ounces blackberries, rinsed and patted dry

Set your over rack in the lower third of your oven. Preheat your oven to 325ºF/160ºC. Set out 8 five of six ounce ramekins as well as a baking pan that can fit all the ramekins (this will later be used for the water bath).

Prepare the caramel by mixing the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar looks dissolved. Lower heat to a simmer, cover, and cook 2 to 3 minutes to dissolve the sugar completely. In the meantime, set a white plate and spoon next to your stove. You will use this later to test the color of your caramel. Uncover the saucepan and bring heat back to medium. Simmer without stirring the caramel until the caramel begins to turn an amber color. Continue cooking until a test drop of syrup has a reddish amber color. When ready, distribute the caramel evenly among the ramekins. Tilt each ramekin to spread the caramel so that the caramel covers the bottom and comes part way up the sides of each cup.

Bring a kettle of water to boil.

Begin preparing the cheesecakes by placing the chocolate in a small bowl. Add the 1/4 cup of boiling water and mix until smooth (if it does not become smooth enough, pop it into the microwave for about 15 seconds to fully melt the chocolate). Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the cream cheese until smooth (using a stand mixer or hand held beater will make this easier). Add the sugar and vanilla and mix until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure it mixes evenly. Add one egg and beat until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir in the second egg. Add the metled chocolate and stir.

Divide the berries evenly among the ramekins. Divide the batter among the ramekins, pouring it over the berries.

Place the ramekins in your baking pan. Carefully pour the boiling water from your kettle into the baking pan until it comes 1" up the baking pan. Bake the cheesecakes until the edges are puffed and the middle still juggles slightly, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place the ramekins on a cooling rack (use tongs or oven mitts, whatever is easier). Allow to cool completely, then cover and refrigerate the cheesecakes at least overnight. To serves, loosen the cheesecakes from the ramekins by running a knife along the edge of the cheesecakes. Invert onto the serving plate. Pin It Now!

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