May 03, 2013

Funfetti Cheesecake Bites - (Secretly) Two Years Old!

Two years ago, I was at the end of the first year of grad school while also ending a long term relationship.  I had so much nervous energy without an outlet and knew I needed to throw myself into projects.  I joined a kickball league and a bocce team.  I started spending every weekend night on my girlfriends' couch to stay busy and not sit at home overanalyzing everything.  And most pertinent to this particular post, I started to write this blog.

For the first few months, I wrote in secret.  I was confident in my passion for food and could talk about it for hours, but I hadn't written anything other than design reports and immunology exams since high school.  I didn't feel proficient enough to add to the conversation, neither as an amateur cook nor a photographer.  I wanted to find myself and my style of cooking before I shared anything.

It was just me and my dinky point and shoot camera, terrible rental half-galley kitchen with no dishwasher, and low popcorn ceilings that let in absolutely no natural light.  I would write everything down in this little green notebook while I let every utensil, bowl, plate, and pan I owned soak in the sink.  The pictures were horrible and I had no idea what I was doing, but god I loved it!  Eventually, I saved up enough money to buy a "big girl camera" and decided to take myself public.  I am so happy that I did.  It was so fun to pour myself into this project, to really research food and try new things.  I love having a creative outlet and sharing my food and couldn't imagine a better way to de-stress at the end of the day!

So in celebration, yet another Toasty cheesecake!  I decided to go full-on birthday and rock the funfetti.  I couldn't use the box mix (on principle) so I turned to Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar for tips on how to recreate the flavor.  The secret to box cake fake out is cake flour, imitation vanilla extract (still not happy about it, but it does the trick!), and a whole bunch of rainbow sprinkles.  I used Tosi's recipe for funfetti cake crumbs, buzzed them up in the food processor, and approximated a funfetti version of the graham cracker crust!  I will definitely be using this trick for future cheesecake adaptations, it was so easy and a great way to impart more flavor!  A little bit of sour cream, a heaping half cup of sprinkles, and a healthy dose of imitation vanilla brought the birthday flavor to the cheesecake base.  When cooled, I topped the baby cheesecakes with a few more cake crumbs for a fun and festive finish!

One move, three broken bones, and two years later I think I'm finally getting the hang of this!  Thanks to my friends, family, and readers for supporting me in this ridiculous endeavor.  (And of course for eating my leftovers so I don't get fat... Most appreciated!)

Funfetti Cheesecake Bites
Cake Crumbs (Adapted from the Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook)
3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar (tightly packed)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon imitation vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups cake crumbs
3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
pinch of salt, to taste

Funfetti Cheesecake Base
8 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
1/3 cup sour cream (room temperature)
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 teaspoon imitation vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 300 F.  Thoroughly combine the dry ingredients (cake flour, sugars, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles) and then add the oil and vanilla to create a sort of wet paste.

Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes at 300 F, breaking up occasionally during cooking.  Let cool and harden before making the crust.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Add 1 1/2 cups of the cooled cake crumbs to a food processor and pulse gently until a coarse crumb is formed without completely obliterating the sprinkles.  Mix with the butter and salt and then place a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of the cake crust in paper lined mini muffin tins.

Pack the crust down either by hand or by squishing two mini muffin tins together.  Bake the crust at 350 F for 5 minutes, until just golden brown.  Let cool while putting together the cheesecake base.

Whip together the cream cheese and sour cream until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the sugar until well combined.  Add one egg at a time until just combined.  Add the vanilla and salt.

When the crusts are cooled and ready for cheesecake filling, gently fold in the sprinkles to the cheesecake base.  Pour into the crusts until almost the top of the paper.  Add a couple more sprinkles to the tops of the cheesecakes and then bake at 350 F for 12 minutes.

Let cool completely and top with a few more cake crumbs.  Enjoy!

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