Tag Archives: Graham Cracker Crumbs

Individual Cheesecakes

Bday 001

Allison wanted her birthday cake to be cheesecake. And as always, I had to do something special. Since different folks like different tastes, I decided to make individual cheesecakes with a smorgasbord of sauces. Each cheesecake is about the size of a cupcake, and is complete in itself. And then there are the toppings with which each person can choose and complement their cheesecake. All the recipes are in this article, even if some have appeared earlier in other articles.

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For toppings, I made a ganache, a caramel, a praline sauce, lemon curd, strawberries, blueberries, and pumpkin. The latter is because this year we celebrate Alli’s birthday on Halloween, and Halloween goes well with pumpkin cheesecake.

I obviously made way too many, and too much toppings. I was surprised to find that the lemon curd and the strawberries were probably the favorites, with the caramel running third. The ganache was not a favorite; as daughter Mindy told me later- who wants chocolate with cheesecake? Cheesecake is almost the anti-chocolate food.- She also said that she felt pumpkin mousse was not a topping for cheesecake, but if you want a pumpkin cheesecake, you should put the pumpkin in the cheese layer.

Individual Cheesecakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 3 pkg (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 cups Sour Cream at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

The above Ingredient list is broken into 3 parts- bottom crust, middle filling, and topping.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Put cupcake papers into the bottom of 18 muffin cups
  3. For the crust, mix the graham crumbs, 2 Tablespoons sugar and butter until well blended, and press into the bottoms of the cupcake papers.
  4. For the filling, beat the cream cheese, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 3/4 cup sugar until blended. Add the eggs, one at a time mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Spoon over the crusts.
  5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until the centers are almost set.
  6. For the topping, combine the sour cream, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a small bowl. Spread over the surface of the warm cupcakes. Return the cupcakes to the oven and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or over night.
  7. Remove the cupcake papers and arrange the individual cheesecakes for serving.


Since I made the seven toppings, I will give you recipes for each of them although you should probably only focus on a couple or three for your serving.

Ganache is a mixture of heavy cream and chocolate. I have used several of these in the past and am providing you with a pointer to some of those recipes as well as giving you a recipe herein. Perhaps the best previous recipe was with the home-made Ding Dongs. In that case, We wanted the ganache to set since it was an outside coating, and we wanted it to be shiny. So the amount of chocolate was more than the amount of cream, and we added fat (butter) for the gloss. Likewise, for holding cake pops together, we use a ganache. The recipe in the cake pop article is not strong enough compared to the recipe for white chocolate ganache in the Icings, Frostings and Glazes article; you really need a 4 to 1 ratio of chocolate to cream for cake pops. Here, we want a fairly liquid ganache, and use a 1 to 1 ratio.

Ganache

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. Chocolate Pieces (any flavor or type, including white)
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream

Directions

  1. Place the chocolate in a microwave proof bowl
  2. Heat the cream in a sauce pan until small bubbles start to appear around the edges (just to a boil but not boiling!)
  3. Remove from the heat, and pour over the chocolate.
  4. Let the mixture sit undisturbed for 5 minutes
  5. Stir until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth

An alternative approach is to place the ingredients in a double boiler over simmering water and cook, stirring until it is smooth and all the chocolate is melted. Since the chocolate is in a heat proof bowl, and the sauce pan is out, this should be an easy change from heating the cream separately and waiting for the chocolate to melt.

Caramel is a mixture of heavy cream and sugar. Most of the caramel I have used I have made from salted caramel chips, and used a ganache recipe; it works. However, if you want a straight caramel without salt, then the recipe I have in the Guinness Gingerbread Cupcakes article does a nice job.

Caramel

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cool it to room temperature and refrigerate it in a covered container. Reheat over low heat until smooth and spreadable.

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a sauce pan.
  2. Add the brown sugar and cream. Stir with a whisk until the sauce bubbles and gets sticky, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the vanilla and salt.

If ganache is Chocolate and Cream, and Caramel is Sugar and Cream, then I would say that Praline is Sugar and Sugar; it is a very sweet sauce, and this recipe adds chopped pecans to give it more of that Southern flavor.

Praline Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespooons cornstarch
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a small heavy sauce pan, stir together the brown sugar and cornstarch
  2. Stir in the corn syrup and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the nuts and vanilla.
  4. Cool slightly, and serve.


I tried many recipes for a lemon sauce, and found I didn’t like any of them. Then I found this recipe for Lemon Curd, and the way the people at the party liked it, I think it is a real winner. As one person said, “I can’t wait to have my toast with lemon curd in the morning”.

Lemon Curd

Ingredients

  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks in addition
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

Directions

  1. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, beating each into the mixture. Mix in the lemon juice. The mixture will look lumpy but will smooth out in the next step as it is cooked.
  2. In a heavy bottom sauce pan, cook the mixture over low heat until it smooths out. The lumpy appearance disappears as the butter in the mixture melts. Increase the heat to medium and continue to cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. The thickened mixture should leave a path on the back of a spoon, and will read 170 degrees F on a thermometer. Don’t let the mixture go beyond 170 degrees, or boil.
  3. Remove the mixture from the heat, and stir in the lemon zest. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and press plastic wrap on the surface of the lemon curd to keep a skin from forming. Chill the curd in the refrigerator; it will thicken as it cools.

The curd will keep in the refrigerator for a couple weeks, and can be frozen for a couple months.

For the strawberries, I made the Strawberry Sauce recipe that is macerated strawberries. Again, I had tried several different recipes to get a good strawberry sauce, and finally settle on this one; it is juicy and sweet.

Strawberries

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions

  1. Mix the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice, cover, and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Taste the resulting sauce, and if not sweet enough, add more sugar. Some recipes go to 1/2 cup of sugar, while others start with only 2 Tablespoons of sugar.

I started with the idea that I would macerate the blueberries, but then, who would want smashed blueberries. They really would not be very appetizing. So I left the blueberries whole; maceration seems to need the fruit to be cut, or opened such that its juices can flow.

Blueberries

For this “sauce” I added a couple tablespoons of sugar and some lemon zest to the blueberries, but next time, nothing but the berries. I think the zest turned people off; blueberry lovers want the simple pure fruit!

So finally, here is the pumpkin mousse that Mindy said was not proper for a cheesecake; she said the pumpkin should be cooked into the cheese layer of the cheesecake and not painted on top. However, this mousse would make an excellent filling for a simple pie- say graham cracker crust. And it would require no cooking- ready in a jiffy!

Pumpkin mousse

Ingredients

  • 2 small boxes of instant vanilla pudding (sugar free is okay)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 -15 oz. can pure pumpkin/pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp clove

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the vanilla pudding mix, milk, pumpkin and spices.
  2. Whisk until smooth


That is all there is too making the mousse. Use it as you like.

No-Bake Cheesecake

Easter 008

The picture is probably familiar if you read my Easter 2015 article. Indeed, this is the cheesecake I made for Easter, but I made it into individual servings. In that case, I had to do a small amount of baking to do the crust.

The recipe is for a truly no-bake cheesecake; that is because you buy the crust ready-made. I will give you the way to convert it into the individual cheesecakes in cupcake papers at the bottom of the article, so if you are interested, look for the way to do the crusts down there. For the cupcake paper version, you will need a small amount of baking for the crust.

The reason this cheesecake requires no baking is because the eggs are cooked when the curd is made; thus there are no additional eggs to be cooked with the cheesecake.

In the recipe, I use the general designation of Curd where I mean either lemon or lime curd; you will find my recipe for the curd here.

No-Bake Citrus Cheesecake

Ingredients

  • 10 oz. Curd– either lemon or lime
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
  • 2 cups Frozen Whipped Topping, thawed
  • 1 9 inch graham cracker pie crust
  • optional fresh berries for garnish

Directions

  • Beat the Cream Cheese until it is smooth.
  • Add the Curd.

At this point, I chose to optionally press the mix through a sieve. I found that mixing the curd with cream cheese does not smooth out as much as I would like it to smooth out, and there seem to be small lumps of cream cheese in the mix.

  • Fold in the whipped topping
  • Pour into the prepared pie crust and refrigerate 2-3 hours
  • Garnish if desired with the fresh berries

For the optional garnish, you could use raspberries, or blue berries, or even slices of lemon or lime to denote the flavor of the cheesecake

To make the individual cheesecakes, you will need 18 cupcake papers and muffin cups. Then, you must make the cheesecake crust.

Cheesecake Crust

Ingredients

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs.
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted

Directions

  • Heat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Mix all the ingredients together
  • Press about 2 tsp of the mix into the bottom of each paper lined muffin cup.
  • Bake for 6-8 minutes
  • Cool completely before filling with the cheesecake mixture

I found that a quarter cup (4 Tbsp) ice cream scoop was the easiest way to measure the cheesecake mixture into the individual cupcake papers while they are still in the muffin cups.

S’more Bites

I have a couple problems with the S’mores Bars Recipe, and so I have been working on a slightly different version. I do not like to work with marshmallow creme, and decided I needed a version of the recipe that uses plain old marshmallows instead of the creme. I also don’t like pan cookies, and these seemed to be bad because even as they were cut into bars, with the many layers showing, they were messy to eat. I wanted to encapsulate the chocolate and marshmallow in a crust. I also like small, 1 or 2 bite cookies that even a child can enjoy; nothing so large that it is going to break and get all over the floor.

Smores 010

My first attempt at the getting rid of the marshmallow creme was to just use marshmallows in the pan cookie bars. That failed in that the marshmallows are protected from the heat by the top crust, and they never melted. But that also didn’t answer my desire for a more encapsulated cookie.

Smores 001

My next attempt was to use the basic recipe, but then to form the cookies in my miniature muffin tins. The first trial I used melted chocolate and mini marshmallows. as filling for a crust cup I formed in the muffin tin cups. In that trial, I also put a top crust on the cookies. I didn’t like the total encapsulation of the cookie in that it no longer showed that it was S’more based. That trial and results are shown in the S’mores Bars recipe as Update 1. Since the basics of the S’mores Bites is different from the bar cookies, I decided to continue my exploration here as a separate article.

Daughter Mindy also pointed out that she likes to see a slightly cooked- brown on the marshmallows, and totally encased, that was missing. She also suggested that I look at using the chocolate spread that is now available rather than melting the chocolate.

Now, I have made those adjustments, and I feel that both taste-wise and looks, we have a fairly nice cookie- the S’more Bite.

Smores 006

S’more Bites Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 jar of chocolate spread
  • 1 bag miniature marshmallows
  • Directions:

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 36 miniature muffin tins.

    In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined.

    Scoop 1 Tablespoon of the dough into each muffin tin. With fingers, push and pat the dough into the shape of the muffin tin cup. Place some chocolate spread in each cup- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon. Place mini marshmallows (3-4) on top of the chocolate.

    Bake for 12 minutes. Cool in the pans on racks. Remove from the muffin tins; before trying to lift the cookie out of the tin, chip any overflow of marshmallow away. I had to get my finger nails down the side of the cookie to pull it out.

    In this picture, the step-by-step process of preparing the S’more bites for cooking can be seen.

    Smores 004

    I also discovered that you can use cupcake papers in the muffin tins and do away with the greasing of the tins; the result are papered S’more Bites which are less greasy to handle and easier to extract from the muffin tins.

S’more Pops

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I saw this idea and it is so simple I just had to try it, and yes, then give it to you. It looks to me that it would be a good way to involve the children; they can do everything but melt the chocolate. An adult should do that, but once melted, its temperature is only about 90 degrees F, so it is less than body temperature and not a danger for the children.

I say an adult should melt the chocolate because whether you do it on the stove using a Bain Marie, or in the microwave with several 10-20 second shots, neither of those techniques are for the younger children.

I think everything is fairly clear from the photo; Start by pushing a pretzel stick into the marshmallow. Then dip the marshmallow in the melted chocolate; I like the idea of leaving part of the marshmallow showing since a S’more shows the marshmallow. While the chocolate is still wet on the pop, dip it in the graham cracker crumbs. Then set it on a piece of parchment paper for a few minutes to let the chocolate harden. That is all there is to it! I did learn that the chocolate in the dipping pot will start to set up and harden after 10 or 12 pops have been dipped, and I reheated mine in the microwave for 5 seconds to get it melted again.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Marlys loved the Halloween season; she was a kid and loved to go out into the fields to find her own pumpkins. And so it is no surprise that when she found this recipe, it became a standard part of the Fall season. It was often the dessert for Halloween night.

pumpkin cheesecake 009

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Crust
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

Combine above together in medium bowl. Press onto bottom and 2 inch up sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 8 minutes. Do not allow to brown. Remove from oven and cool.

Cheesecake Filling
  • 3 pkgs (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup (16 oz. can) solid pack pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup undiluted evaporated mil
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Beat cream cheese and sugars in large mixer bowl until fluffy. Beat in pumpkin, eggs, milk. Add cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg; beat well. Pour onto crust. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until edge is set.

Topping
  • 2 cups sour cream at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine above in small bowl. Spread over surface of warm cheesecake. Return to oven and bake for 5 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Remove side of pan and chill several hours or overnight.

You want to pull the sides of the graham cracker crust up the sides of the spring-form pan all of the two inches suggested in the recipe; otherwise, you will have cheesecake filling left over. The finished cheesecake filling should be a couple inches deep.

The second time I made this recipe, I decided to pour all of the filling into the crust, and it fit, but was domed in the middle. I baked it off this way. As it baked, it leveled itself, and rose about an inch above the top of the spring-form pan; the filling was way above the top of the crust. After taking the cheesecake from the oven and starting to top it with the sour cream mixture, I noticed that the filling was starting to collapse on itself. In the end, the filling was just about at the top edge of the spring-form pan when the cheesecake had been cooled in the refrigerator. So, my hint is to not be afraid that the filling is too much and it does NOT need to stay in the crust; it can overflow the crust by several inches.

Since this is a spring-form pan, and the crust has plenty of butter in it, remember to place the pan on a sheet pan to catch the drips; you don’t want to be cleaning the bottom of the oven, or having dripped butter burning.

When I was making the filling, it seemed as if the mixer wasn’t cleaning the bottom and sides of the mixer bowl adequately; there were areas of white showing through where the cream cheese hadn’t been mixed with the pumpkin. So when you are scraping down the sides of the mixer bowl, go deep to the bottom and lift up any ingredients that are not joining the mix.

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Since this was suppose to be a Halloween dessert, I decided to make a pumpkin face on the top of my cheesecake just for fun. I used food coloring to make the topping orange. It took quite a few drops of both the red and yellow to get a deep enough orange. Then, before spreading the topping, I saved out about 1/3 cup, and added food coloring to make a deep brown color. After adding the blue, I needed to add still more red to get the right shade. I filled a piping bag and drew the features free-hand on the spread, orange topping. Have fun with your food!