10.26.2011

Bite-sized cheesecake (need I say more?)

I am a huge fan of any cheesecake-based dessert.

Whether it's actual cheesecake, cheesecake muffins or cheesecake-chunk ice cream, you can pretty much sign me up if the words "cheese" and "cake" are smushed together.

These little bite-sized cheesecakes were a lot easier to deal with than one big-ole-pan-o'-cheesecake, especially when it came to the little bite-sized, homemade (aka squashed by hand) graham cracker pie crusts.

Speaking of graham cracker crusts, do not try to go the easy way route on this recipe and use a premade one, you'll be sorely, sorely mistaken. This quick and (almost) painless method of a super rich, slightly sweet and salty graham cracker crust construction is seriously essential in relation to the over-indulgent cheesecake portion.


Bite-sized cheesecake
(Makes 24 mini-muffin-sized cheesecakes)
Ingredients:
8 oz package of vegan cream cheese (we used Tofutti because we love it)
1/4 block of silken tofu (don't you skip this ingredient, it helps bind the fluffy deliciousness together)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 TBS lemon juice
1 TBS butter (it gives it a little richness)
Any kind of pie filling, fresh fruit or chocolate to drizzle on top

Pie crust Ingredients:
6-8 graham crackers (you may need a few more, it depends how good you are at crumbling them and how thick you like your crusts, you be the judge)
3/4 stick of vegan butter (softened)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt (this adds a whole new dimension of flavor to the crust!)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Take a masher, a sealed ziplock bag or your hand and start crumbling up the graham crackers in a smallish bowl.
Once crumbly (I like my crust to have a little texture to it, that and I'm lazy) add in the sugar, salt and softened butter.
Mix together until easy to pack and slightly crumbly.
Line two mini-muffin tins with mini-muffin wrappers and then take about 1 1/2 tsp of graham cracker and pack it in the bottom of a mini muffin. We like our crusts a little thicker so I packed a little more. Again, you be the judge of this. Some smaller chunks are OK and will work, but try not to have too many or else the crust won't stick together.
In a medium bowl, whip softened cream cheese, sugar, butter and tofu together. Add in extract and lemon juice and blend (I use the whisk attachment on my mixer) until fluffy, light and hard to resist.

Spoon filling into muffin tins about 2/3 full and then bake in the oven on 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Take out and let the little bite-sized pieces of Heaven cool for AT LEAST an hour. They get super hot, super melty and gooey and need a little extra time to sit and regather their composure. Respect your cheesecake's needs for a little alone time. Read a book, eat some celery or build a sand caste, whatever. Just let these bad boys rest.

Top with your favorite pie filling, fresh fruit or chocolate sauce. I guarantee you won't be able to have just one!

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