Petite, sweet and creamy
One of my favorite ways to enjoy the taste of Shavuot is to make luscious sweets in smaller sizes.
Cheesecake Photo: Thinkstock
One of my favorite ways to enjoy the taste of Shavuot is to make luscious sweets
in smaller sizes. A good way to do this is to make cheesecake cupcakes. These
miniature cakes have advantages over full-size cheesecakes: They are easier to
serve and bake more quickly. Unlike typical cheesecakes, cupcakes need only
about 20 minutes to bake.
In her new book, 150 Best Cupcake Recipes,
Julie Hasson makes several kinds of cheesecake cupcakes. Her basic cheesecake
cupcake reminds me of my mother’s cheesecake – it has a graham cracker crust, a
cream cheese and sour cream filling and a sweetened sour cream topping added for
the last few minutes of baking.
Other tempting mini cheesecakes made by
Hasson include lemon cheesecake cupcakes flavored with lemon zest and topped
with lemon curd. (The recipe is below.) Chocolate cheesecake cupcakes have a
chocolate sandwich cookie as the crust of each one; it bakes inside a cheesecake
batter flavored with melted chocolate and chocolate liqueur. The same liqueur
flavors the sweetened sour cream topping.
Another way to introduce sweet
cheese to cupcakes is to make a cream cheese icing, as Hasson does for her white
coconut rum cupcakes. Ginger cream cheese icing, flavored with ground ginger and
chopped crystallized ginger, makes a tasty topping for chocolate cupcakes. To
embellish her carrot zucchini cupcakes, Hasson frosts them with orange cream
cheese icing flavored with orange zest and orange liqueur.
A DESSERT that
I find as enticing as cheesecake is creamy cheese mousse, which is also easy to
bring to the table in individual servings. When paired with a colorful selection
of seasonal fruit, the French-style mousse makes a delicious holiday treat and
is much easier and faster to prepare than cheesecake. I make mine from creamy
white cheese beaten with sugar, lightened with whipped egg whites and flavored
with kirsch (clear cherry brandy) or orange liqueur. I use the chilled mousse to
top a fresh fruit medley, such as strawberries mixed with peaches, melon,
bananas and apricots.
Deborah Madison, author of Seasonal Fruit Desserts,
makes several kinds of cheese mousses. For her cream cheese mousse, she blends
the cheese with cottage cheese, sugar, vanilla and cream and recommends serving
it with succulent figs or any roasted or sauteed fruit. To accompany her
citrus-scented ricotta mousse, which is enriched with creme fraiche and flavored
with lemon or orange zest and orange Muscat wine, she serves fresh summer fruit
compote or prunes simmered in red wine.
Such mousses, notes Madison, can
be made in any quantity. She often makes half of a recipe or even less when
she’s preparing it for only a few people. For a sweet treat for the holiday,
this may be a practical solution.
Besides, you can spoon such a mousse
over ladyfingers or slices of unfrosted cake moistened with sweet liqueur, and
consider it a no-bake cheesecake.
Faye Levy is the author of Fresh from
France: Dessert Sensations and of Aruhot Halaviot, dairy meals (in Hebrew).
CHEESE MOUSSE WITH FRESH FRUIT
This mousse is very easy to prepare.
white cheese of any degree of richness that you like.
If you prefer a
richer mousse, substitute 1⁄2 cup whipping cream for the egg whites. Chill the
cream well, whip it with the sugar in a chilled bowl until stiff and fold it
into the cheese. Instead of using whipping cream, you can stir 1⁄2 cup sour
cream or plain or vanilla yogurt into the cheese.
For the fruit salad: 1 kg. (2 pounds) mixed soft fruit such as
strawberries, peaches, apricots, melon, plums, grapes, bananas, oranges, mango
or kiwi juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. sugar, or to taste
White Cheese Mousse:
smooth white cheese, whole milk or low-fat
1 to 2 Tbsp. cherry or orange liqueur
or 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
5 to 6 Tbsp. sugar, or to taste 3 egg whites
the fruit salad:
Peel and cut the fruit into slices or cubes; leave grapes
whole. Put fruit in a serving dish, preferably a clear one. Sprinkle with lemon
juice and sugar and mix gently.
Cover and refrigerate for about 30
A short time before serving, make the mousse: Beat the cheese
with the vanilla and half the sugar. In another bowl whip the egg whites until
medium- stiff peaks form. Add the remaining sugar while beating and continue
whipping to stiff, shiny peaks. Fold beaten whites gently into cheese
Taste and add more sugar if you like.
Pour mousse over
fruit and serve cold.
LEMON CHEESECAKE CUPCAKES
This recipe is from 150
Best Cupcake Recipes. Author Julie Hasson notes that the lemon curd topping on
these mini cheesecakes is a perfect complement to the creamy cheesecake. For an
extra-luscious treat, you can spoon a small dollop of whipped cream over the
lemon curd before serving.
Hasson notes that you can freeze the baked and
cooled cupcakes without the topping. Wrap them individually in plastic wrap and
store them in re-sealable plastic freezer bags for up to 4 weeks. Top them with
lemon curd after you thaw them.
When making cheesecake cupcakes, writes
Hasson, use foil cupcake pan liners and not paper liners, which get soggy and
the cheesecake sticks to them.
To make the crust, Hasson calls for graham
cracker crumbs. I find that plain cookies work well too.
3⁄4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 7 graham crackers)
(11⁄2 ounces or 3 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbsp. packed light brown
Filling: 350 gr. (12 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
1⁄4 cup sour cream
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
lemon curd, store-bought or homemade (see recipe below)
Preheat oven to 180ºC
(350ºF). Line a cupcake pan (for 12 cupcakes) with foil liners.
a small bowl, whisk together graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and brown
sugar. Press crumb mixture into bottoms of prepared baking cups.
In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse cream cheese until smooth.
Add sugar, pulsing until smooth. Add sour cream and process until smooth. Add
eggs and lemon zest, pulsing until smooth (you don’t want to over-process the
mixture, you just want it to be smooth).
Scoop filling over crust in
baking cups. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 22 minutes or until the centers of
cupcakes are firm. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and
refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
Before serving, place a dollop of
lemon curd on top of each cupcake and swirl lightly with back of
Author Julie Hasson considers this topping, which is a
snap to prepare, “nectar of the gods.” You can keep it, covered, up to 1 week in
Makes about 11⁄3 cups:
1⁄2 cup superfine sugar (see Note
1 tsp. cornstarch 2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1⁄2 cup freshly
squeezed lemon juice 4 egg yolks, room temperature 85 gr. (3 ounces or 6 Tbsp.)
unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
In a heavy saucepan, whisk together
sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in lemon zest and juice and egg yolks until well
combined. Whisk in butter and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly,
for 6 minutes or until lemon mixture is thick enough to hold marks of whisk. If
mixture curdles slightly, strain into a bowl and let cool.
Transfer to a
bowl, placing plastic wrap directly on surface. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until
Note: If you don’t have superfine sugar, process regular sugar in a
food processor until very finely ground.