March 26, 2013

Mocha Baby Cheesecakes

For the first time in a long time, I feel excited to be in the kitchen.  It was something I regarded with dread because I knew I would need an aspirin and 2 bags of peas by the time I was done.  But you know what, screw it.  Instead of focusing on what I can't do, I need to just do.  I need to create things.  I need to have projects.  I need to make messes!


I decided to step back into the kitchen full force by creating one of my signature baby cheesecakes.  This was an idea born from my coworkers during a fat kid discussion, probably one of my favorite things to talk about.  I brought in some pumpkin baby cheesecake leftover from Little Toasty's birthday that went over pretty well and was getting requests to bring in more.  So, I thought I would play to my audience and ask what they wanted in a baby cheesecake.  What we brainstormed was an indulgent coffee and chocolate fantasy that needed to become reality!


I feel pretty confident with what works and doesn't work in a cheesecake at this point, so I thought I would just wing it.  Instead of normal graham crackers, I used some chocolate teddy grahams and toned down the sugar in my normal crust to accommodate for the slightly sweeter product.  I overloaded my french press with fresh ground coffee beans to create a super concentrated coffee base to add to the cheesecake batter.  Brown sugar instead of regular sugar echoed the richness of the coffee and unsweetened cocoa powder.  I used only one egg to create a denser final product.  I made a whipped cream with a dash of the concentrated coffee and then finished with a shaving of chocolate.


Rich and decadent, these little cheesecakes are sure to please any coffee lover.  Hope I did my fellow fat kids proud!  (And yes, I wrote this with my ankle sandwiched between two bags of frozen peas!)




Mocha Baby Cheesecakes
For the Crust:
4.8 oz of chocolate graham crackers (I used teddy grahams!)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
pinch of salt

For the Cheesecakes:
8 oz cream cheese
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1-2 tablespoons concentrated coffee
pinch of cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg

For the Whipped Cream:
1/2 cup of heavy cream
2-4 tablespoon of powdered sugar (I like it less sweet, do it to your taste)
splash of concentrated coffee, to taste
pinch of salt

Before starting, pop a chocolate bar into the freezer and make the coffee concentrate.  I made mine by using the normal amount of beans for a full pot of french press coffee and added only half of the water.  I let it brew for about 15-20 minutes to really concentrate.  Let cool before use.  

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  To make the crust, first pulse the graham crackers in the food processor until you have pretty fine crumbs.  Pulse in the sugar and salt.  In a separate bowl, combine the crumb mixture and the melted butter.


Add a teaspoon of crumbs to each well of a lined mini muffin pan.  Pat down by squishing the crumbs with a second mini muffin tin.  Brush off any crumbs from the bottom and bake at 350 F for 5 minutes, until the crusts have just browned.

While the crusts are cooling, prepare the filling.  Begin by creaming together the cream cheese and the sugar with an electric mixer.  When combined, add the cocoa powder 1 tablespoon at a time, incorporating fully.  Add the cooled coffee concentrate, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and salt.  Finish by adding the egg.


Pour into the baby crust almost to the top of the liners and then bake at 350 F for 12 minutes.  
Let cool at room temperature for about 10 minutes and then pop in the fridge for about an hour to set.

Right before serving, make the coffee whipped cream.  In a bowl, begin to whip the heavy cream until just thickened.  Add the coffee concentrate and resume.  Lightly sprinkle over the powdered sugar while whipping just before soft peaks are formed.  Add in a pinch of salt and taste, adding more coffee to your taste.  Finish whipping to create soft peaks.

Spoon or pipe the coffee whipped cream on the cooled cheesecakes.  Finish by grating the frozen chocolate bar over the cheesecakes.  Enjoy!

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