Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Good Things, Small Packages

After several culinary failures last week, I was determined to make amends with my inner cook and pump out some tasty treats this week. The theme: small. I much prefer to make mini muffins over regular sized, as I can give them to the girls with only a small pang of guilt about feeding them a combination of butter and sugar. I've also, with lots of hard work, managed to shed a few unwanted kgs over the last few months, and don't particularly want them to return. So, as far as baking goes, bigger is not better.

On Tuesday, I had a banana that had seen better days sitting in my fruit bowl. Just 1. My favourite banana choc chip muffin recipe requires 2 bananas, so it was a perfect opportunity to make a half-batch. I also go to a local community group every other Wednesday so there was ample opportunity to share the baking love. This recipe is super quick and easy, and you can use wholemeal flour if you so desire and it's still just as yummy. For the choc-chips, I used a combination of Callebaut 54% dark callets and 34% milk callets and they were just divine. A half batch made 15 mini muffins and only needed about 10 mins baking time in my oven.

The adult in me (and closet My Kitchen Rules watcher) wanted to make something a little more special for the grown ups. I love flicking through cheap cooking magazines, and they often have good basic ideas that just need a little dressing up. The current issue of Recipes+ had a recipe for Mini Cherry Cheesecakes that looked workable. I made a few small changes to give my version of Mini Choc-Cherry Cheesecakes. Here's the recipe for a half batch, which made 11 mini cheesecakes, but you could stretch it out to 12:

125g/half packet of Granita biscuits
60g butter, melted
1/4 tsp ground ginger
60g dark chocolate (I used Callebaut 54% callets)
1/4 cup cream
250g cream cheese, at room temperature (this is important!)
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg, lightly whisked (courtesy of the girls in the garden)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I used homemade)
about 250-300g fresh cherries, reserve 12 and then coarsely chop the rest, removing stones
100ml thickened cream, softly whipped
icing sugar to dust

  1. Preheat the oven to 150C (130C fan forced). Line 12 holes of a regular sized muffin tray with paper cases.
  2. Whiz biscuits in a food processor, or bash with a rolling pin (depending on how much angst you need to release) until finely crumbled. Add butter and ginger and combine. Press crumbs into the paper cases and place in the fridge until required.
  3. Put chocolate and cream in a small pan over low heat and cook, stirring until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Be careful not to burn. Cool.
  4. Beat cream cheese, sugar, egg vanilla and cooled chocolate mixture in a large bowl until well combined. If the cream cheese is too cold, it will form lumps and won't combine properly. Also if the chocolate mix is too hot, it will cook your egg. Fold in chopped cherries and divide the mixture between the paper cases, on top of the biscuit mix. Level the tops and bake for 15-20 mins or until just set.
  5. Cool in trays, then in the fridge. They need a good few hours cooling before serving. Remove from the paper cases, top with a dolop of whipped cream, a whole cherry and dust with icing sugar.
These look and taste lovely. The fresh cherries are so refreshing, and the dark chocolate makes it feel more adult than a regular cheesecake. The original recipe called for white chocolate, but I don't like white chocolate, so went with dark. It worked. I was a little concerned that there we 11 cheesecakes for us to get through, even if they were mini. Hubby and I had 1 each after dinner, and we let the girls have some too, but that was still going to leave 7 tempting me from the fridge all day today. Hubby took care of that dilemma last night when he greedily went to get a 2nd from the fridge and dropped the container, contents included, all over the kitchen floor. He's lucky I enjoy the process as much as the product, and that I'd already taken photos! Needless to say he felt terrible. Guess I'll just have to make the other half batch on the weekend.

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