Friday, February 24, 2017

Mini Cheesecakes are Cute as Buttons

I will admit right up front, I saw this pattern being made on top of something that looked like little cheesecakes in photos on someone's blog site. The fact that I had no clue what language this blog was written in is immaterial. The design is adorable. I decided to try out some little cheesecakes with other ideas I got while perusing various web and blog-sites, and they are just so cute. Apart from being really tasty, they really are "cute as buttons."

Lemon Blueberry Mini Cheesecakes
Lemon Blueberry Mini Cheesecakes

Five Appetizers Served at CorTrust Bank
Five Appetizers Served at CorTrust Bank
I was helping to coordinate an event at CorTrust Bank yesterday. My husband and I had met with CorTrust Aberdeen's Mark Hahler, Northern Area Market President, and Connie Kusler, Mortgage Loan Specialist, having done some other design work with them. At the last minute, there were dire blizzard warnings for that area around Sioux Falls, where some out-of-towners would be coming from, with the possibility that the whole event would be called off. Still, some brave souls ventured up here to Aberdeen and the event took place. The appetizers served at the event last evening were Green Pea Pancakes with Smoked Salmon Mousse, Flank Steak Rolls with Asiago and Arugula, Spanakopita Cups, Buffalo Chicken Wraps and Lemon Blueberry Mini Cheesecakes. 

The little cheesecakes, shown bottom right in the photo at right, were made in mini muffin tins, making them about 1½ inch in diameter, or just about 2 - 3 bites worth. Tiny and adorable. Which makes them so irresistible.

The flank rolls have been made with many fillings and various marinades in past, but this marinade (below) is my favorite. Cutting thin logs (about ¼-inch diameter) of Asiago cheese, about 1½ to 2-inches long and tucking in a couple of peppery baby arugula leaves make these a hit at any party or get together. The Asiago and arugula combo makes this appetizer so easy to make.

Flank Rolls with Asiago and Arugula

Amount will depend on size of flank steak
Flank Rolls with Asiago and Arugula
Flank Rolls with Asiago and Arugula

About 30 to 65 rolls

½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses or concentrate
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, finely grated
1 to 1½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder

1 to 2½ pound flank steak

Asiago wedge, cut in ¼ x 1½-inch pieces
Baby Arugula leaves

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a zip-top bag and place the flank steak in the bag to marinate for at least 12 and up to 24 hours, turning occasionally so the marinade coats the steak evenly.

To broil, either grill on a very hot grill for 6 minutes per side (slightly more or less, depending on size and thickness of steak), or set the steak on a rack on a rimmed baking sheet and broil about 4-inches from the heat for 6 minutes per side. Tent the meat once done grilling/broiling for about 10 to 15 minutes before slicing very thinly, preferably at a bias, to achieve wider pieces. Using a length of about 4-inches, set a piece of the Asiago and 2 baby arugula leaves on one end. Roll the steak around these filings and skewer with a toothpick to keep closed. 

Back to the little Cheesecakes 

Polaner All Fruit Spreadable Fruit Blueberry, 10.0 OZ
I thought about placing a fresh blueberry in the bottom of the tart shells, but for practice purposes, I had none available. I did, however, have a jar of Polaner All Fruit Blueberry Spread. I wanted something not terribly sweet, and this was as good as I could come up with quickly. I used a slightly rounded ¼-teaspoon of the fruit spread in each of the little pie shells, and then filled them with about 2 teaspoons of the lemony cheesecake mixture.

When I made the Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes recently, with a chocolate shell, I did not bake the chocolate pie shell first. I liked the soft texture of the shell with the strawberry cheesecake filling as it made the shell almost brownie-like in texture. For the new mini cheesecake recipe, I tried them without baking the shell first, and they were (to my own personal taste) good, but I felt that others would prefer a more crispy textured shell. Of course, once the mini shells are baked blind, they do shrink. It turned out that this way I could only use a level ¼-teaspoon of the fruit spread and possibly about 1½-teaspoons of the cheesecake filling. Altogether, somewhat smaller versions, but no less delicious.

Keep in mind that these were made in the tiny wells of mini-muffin tins and not regular muffin tins!

And then the Little Designs

As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, I saw this idea on a blogsite that was written in another language. Not a language I recognized, either! but a picture is worth a thousand words, they say, and this picture was too good to pass up. The photos showed what appeared to be a sort of cheesecake-like batter in a small tart shell. Five, straight <¼-inch lines were drawn onto the batter. I used gel food color to make the lines, using a toothpick. Once the five lines are drawn, you draw the toothpick down through the center of the five lines in one smooth flow, and then out the bottom and curling out a bit (shown on the top three in the diagram below). This gives the appearance or suggestion of something like lavender flowers. I used "violet" food color, yet the designs came out looking deep blue. 

Creating the patterns
Creating the patterns

As I got familiar with the feel of using the toothpicks and gel food colors, I decided to try something new. I used a pink gel food color and sketched 5 "petals" moving upwards from the base of each "petal" and curving slightly. Next, using green gel food color, I drew a stem downwards, and then a leaf, also dragging downwards toward the stem. Trying to draw the leaf from the stem up and out, created a break in the pattern of the stem. This process is shown in the bottom three in the diagram above. All in all, this was one really easy way to make these tiny gems even more adorably irresistible.

Making Designs on Cheesecakes
Making Designs on Cheesecakes

Lemon Blueberry Mini Cheesecakes

Makes 30
Lemon Blueberry Mini Cheesecakes
Lemon Blueberry Mini Cheesecakes

1 cup all purpose flour
3 ounces cream cheese
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 egg
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest

Polaner Blueberry Fruit Spread 
Gel Food Colors: Purple, Pink, Green

Make the shells: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the flour into a bowl. Add in the 3 ounces of cream cheese and the butter and cut in as for pie pastry. Once the ingredients start to form larger bits, begin working with fingers, bringing it all together in one solid mass. It takes a minute or so, but will come together completely. Break off or cut 30 equal sized bits of the dough. Flatten or roll the dough pieces into about 3-inch pieces and fit them into the mini muffin tin wells, pressing so they stick up above the well slightly. They will shrink in the oven! Bake the shells for 9 minutes, until they begin to turn golden. Reduce oven to 350 degrees.

Allow the little shells to cool for about 10 minutes. Use a ¼-teaspoon measuring spoon to scoop a level amount into each of the little baked shells. Set aside.

MAKE the filling: In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and the cornstarch to combine. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the 8-ounces of cream cheese until softened. Add the sugar mixture and beat to just combine. Add in the sour cream, then the egg, beating just to combine. Add the lemon juice and zest until mixed.  

Scoop about 1½ teaspoons of cheesecake filling into each of the little wells with blueberry spread. The filling should cover the blueberry completely, leaving a little surprise when they are bitten into. Before baking, scoop out a small dot of each of the food colors onto a plate. Use toothpicks (a separate one for each color) and create patterns as shown in the diagrams above. Once all are decorated, bake the cheesecakes for 8 minutes, or until set.  Cool completely, then refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. 

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest  at AHOFpin. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.