From the Kitchen – It Takes Two

by Joan Saunders | photos by Kathryn Alvarez Photography – 

It’s not always easy figuring out a lovely, little special dessert. Many of my favourite recipes involve creating large, three-layer cakes or baking massive pans of slices and bars. While it’s usually fabulous to have some leftovers to share (and no one seems to complain), sometimes a celebration calls for a petite, delectable, glorious, silky-smooth sweet that’s just right for two. And this Valentine’s Day, I’ve got an impressive but easy to make recipe in mind.

Cheesecake has always been high on my list of preferred desserts, and I usually go right to the traditional New York style. Topped with some fruit (I love those sour cherries!) and perhaps a dollop of whipping cream, you’ve got a classy, creamy end to a meal. This recipe makes two four-inch cheesecakes, but if you want to make one just for yourself you can halve the recipe and it will still work beautifully. Then add whatever topping you’d prefer: Nutella, lemon curd, fresh or frozen fruit, chocolate sauce and whipping cream. If you’re a purist you don’t have to top them with anything, as baked cheesecake is sublime on its own as well.

What you want to avoid with cheesecake is cracking. When the batter is overmixed too much air is added, and this will cause your cakes to rise in the oven and then collapse and crack. Also, don’t overbake the batter. Many of us overbake to play it safe, and it’s generally not a good idea. If the cakes still jiggle or tremble a little in the centre, they will set up nicely in the fridge. Another factor with this recipe is to make sure you use a water bath; it’s the best way to bake cheesecakes as it ensures that the mix is gently and evenly heated. This also gives the creamiest results. Yum.

If the cheesecakes do crack, don’t panic: it’s not really a big deal. Unless they’re extremely overbaked, your cheesecakes will still taste sublime. Once you top them with berries, whipped cream and chocolate shavings no one, not even the sweetheart you’ve made them for, is ever going to know.

Sweetheart Cheesecakes
You will need two 4-inch mini springform pans
For the crust: (to make two 4-inch mini cheesecakes; can be halved to make one)
1/2 cup crushed graham crackers
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp melted butter

For the filling:
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
4 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp sour cream
3 tbsp whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp flour
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter two 4-inch springform pans. Cut out circles of parchment paper; line bottom of pans, then cut strips of parchment paper to line sides of the pans as well. Wrap outsides of springform pans with aluminum foil to make sure that no water can seep into the cheesecakes.

In small bowl, add graham crackers, sugar, melted butter. Mix until everything is incorporated. Put half of graham cracker mixture into each springform pan. Flatten mix carefully using the back of a spoon or your fingers.

Bake graham cracker crusts in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove pans from oven, lower heat to 300°; let cheesecake bases cool down.

To make cheesecake batter: Using the bowl of a stand mixer (or regular bowl if using a handheld mixer), add in softened cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, whipping cream, vanilla, flour. Mix everything together with the paddle attachment of the stand mixer or the hand mixer. Don’t over mix. Once you have smooth cheesecake batter, add in eggs; mix gently with the mixer. This shouldn’t take long, about 10-15 seconds. Again, don’t overmix the filling.

Pour half the filling (can put in a measuring cup to do this) on top of each of the graham cracker crusts. Tap the pans on the counter a few times to make sure that the cheesecake batter has no bubbles.

Place the two cheesecake pans in an 8×13 pan (or whatever pan you have that fits them both). Add boiling water to the pan (about one inch), put in oven; bake for 35-40 minutes. Once cheesecakes are finished baking, turn off oven, crack the door open a little bit; leave cheesecakes in oven to cool for about an hour. After hour is up, remove cheesecakes from oven; let cool in fridge for two hours or overnight.

Remove from springform pans, peel off parchment paper; top with whatever you prefer. Some options: Nutella, lemon curd, fresh fruit, whipping cream, chocolate shavings, fruit compote.

Adapted and amalgamated from:

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