The trials and tribulations of a scatter-brained kitchen junkie.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Week 2 (Baking) - Miniature Cheesecake Bites

This week two challenge was for the baking leg of my 52 weeks of circuit. You may notice there was no week one post for the baking side of things; that is because my brownies from last week were a bust. They were dry, and un-chocolatey and just very bleh. I actually threw them away. I have never in my life thrown out a plat of brownies. It was a sad sad day in the cookie crumbles household. You can't win 'em all I suppose. Luckily week two was a much greater success and I can gleefully share this recipe with you.

Week two's theme was miniatures and I knew right away what I was going to be making. I've had this recipe kicking around for a bit, just looking for an excuse to purchase the ingredients and invest the time. The recipe came from Land O Lakes and I didn't feel the need to change it one bit, which is a bit of a shocker for me. This recipe sounded, and subsequently was, perfect just the way it is. I tip my hat to you Land O' Lakes. I can't even remember how I came across this recipe as Land O' Lakes isn't really a site I frequent for recipes though I may be whistling a new tune after these babies.

These little bites pack a lot of flavor, and make it very difficult to eat just one. Layered with an Oreo crust, caramel topped with toasted pecans, then cheesecake, all dipped in Ghirardelli coating and sprinkled with more crushed Oreos. Hedonism may be making a comeback.

This dessert was pretty simple all in all, but it also had some time consuming factors which slowed things down a good bit. The making of this dessert actually spanned across 3 days due to a full time job, trips to the gym, and an ever needy set of pets.

  • 1 1/4 c finely crushed Oreo cookie crumbs
  • 1/4 c butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Line an 8in square baking pan with two layers of aluminum foil, one in each direction. (Left/right & up/down)
  3. Spray foil with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Combine Oreo crumbs and melted butter.

  5. Press firmly onto the bottom of the 8in lined pan.
  6. Set aside.
  • 20 caramels unwrapped
  • 2 tbsp half & half (or whole milk if you don't have half & half handy)
  • 1/3 c toasted pecans
  • 8 oz package neufchatel or cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 c fat free sour cream
  1. Combine caramels & half & half in a microwave safe dish.

  2. Microwave on high for 1 minute.
  3. Stir.
  4. Continue microwaving at 30 second intervals, stirring after each session, until smooth.
  5. Pour over prepared crust.

  6. Sprinkle toasted pecans evenly over caramel mixture.

  7. Cover and set the crust & caramel mixture in the fridge while preparing the cream cheese mixture. I actually stopped at this point and let it sit overnight and came back to the baking the next evening. Obviously, if you're doing this in two sections, don't preheat your oven while preparing the crust. 
  8. Combine cream cheese & sugar in bowl. Gently mix until incorporated. If possible, just mix by hand. This allows you to avoid over-mixing which stops the cheesecake from growing too large while cooking and then deflating later.

  9. Add egg & vanilla, stir just until combined.
  10. Stir in sour cream.
  11. Pour over caramel mixture.
  12. Bake 35-40 minutes until set roughly 2 in from edge of pan.
  13. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. 
  14. Loosely cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Again I stopped at this point and came back another full day later to finish the steps. Did I mention this was a time consuming recipe?
  • 1 12 oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 c shortening

  1. Take the cheesecake from the fridge.
  2. Lift out of the pan using the foil.
  3. Peel away all foil.
  4. Cut cheesecake into 36 pieces.
    Good luck eyeballing that, mine were a bit awkward. Still tasty though.

  5. Place a wire cooling grid over waxed paper.
  6. Combine the chocolate & shortening in a small pot over medium heat.
  7. Stir constantly until smooth.
  8. Dip treats in chocolate and place on cooling grid.
    Alternatively you can pour the chocolate over the treats on the cooling grid,
    but I prefer to dip for more consistent coverage.

  9. Allow to cool for a few seconds.
  10. Sprinkle with remaining crushed Oreo crumbs.

  11. Allow to set completely.
  12. Remove from cooling grid and place on platter. 
  13. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


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