This will be the last post for awhile on this blog, as we are working on a recipe app to function with Weebly, my website platform, and it's been a long process. Right now, every single recipe will have to be re-formatted so that it's available to search engines. Any additional recipes without the app will just add to that backlog. So I'm taking a break for now with this last post, but I'm ending with a bang, as these were very successful. Every single one of them disappeared. They're not that hard and can be made in advance. In fact, they're the same concept as my Pumpkin-Chocolate Timbales. Those can be frozen as is. I wouldn't freeze these with the strawberries, as I'm not sure how the berries would look after being frozen and then thawed, but the strawberry/glaze step is very fast and easy.
Adapted from a recipe in Family Circle Magazine. I made 96 of them. What I'm giving below will make 24, so you'll need 2 12-cup muffin tins.
Line your muffin cups with foil liners. Try to find the cheap ones; I bought the last batch from Wal-Mart and they were only a little over a dollar for a package of 48. Don't try to use the paper ones that they use to separate the foil ones; they won't work. I don't think they're even meant to be used. Give each cup a light spritz of baking spray, if you have some.
Make the crust:
I followed the proportions that Sally's Baking Addiction uses and simply substituted chocolate graham crackers for regular ones. I would encourage you to follow the link so you can see her pictures. I have simplified her technique a bit. Just do this:
Grind up 10 full-sheet graham crackers in your food processor with 1/3 cup sugar. (If you don't have a fp, you can crush them in a plastic bag with a rolling pin and then mix in the other ingredients by hand.) So, just to be clear, you're counting each 2-square rectangle as one full sheet. You should end up with about 1 1/2 cups of crumbs. Then pour 6 tablespoons of melted butter through the feed tube of your processor as it's running. You'll need to then scrape the bottom of the fp bowl with a spatula to get it evenly mixed, but that's basically it. Use a heaping tablespoon for each muffin cup. Press the crumbs down with your fingers and then use a small flat-bottomed measuring cup (probably the 1/4 cup size) to even it out completely.
Now for the cheesecake layer:
16 ounces cream cheese
2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp. orange zest or 1/8 tsp. orange oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
Beat the cream cheese until smooth, then add sugar and blend well. Add eggs one at a time, mixing each one in before adding the next. Add flavorings and flour, mixing until smooth. You can do this in your food processor or with a hand mixer.
Scoop about 1/4 cup into each muffin cup. Be sure not to overfill, as you want to have room for the topping. You will probably have some batter left over, so you could make a little additional cheesecake if you'd like. That's what I did. You want the batter to come up only to no more than 1/8 inch below the top of the liners.
Bake at 325 degrees for about 15 minutes, up to 20. The original recipe said to bake for 35 minutes! This, my friends, is insane. I believe that I baked mine for about 18 minutes. The best way to test is with an instant-read thermometer. As soon as the temp reaches 160, you're good to go. Mine actually got over that, to around 170, but I don't think they were overbaked. I never got to eat one, so I don't know for sure, but everyone else seemed to like them.
And the strawberry/sour cream layer:
Mix together 1 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup strawberry jam. Let the baked cheesecakes cool a bit so that they sink, then spread about a tablespoon on each one. The mixture will be fairly thin and will spread out. Put back into the oven for five minutes, let cool again, then chill.
And the strawberry/glaze layer:
The nicest way to do this is to have small perfect strawberries that you cut in half and put a cut-side-down half on each cupcake. Alas, we do not live in a perfect world. So you'll probably end up using those huge grocery-store strawberries and having to cut slices, as I did, and they won't match. C'est la vie! Melt some strawberry jam in the microwave (maybe 30 seconds or so for 1/2 cup) and brush that over each strawberry. Then, if you're really ambitious, make some white chocolate glaze or just drizzle some melted white chocolate over the top. The glaze is very easy and doesn't harden into unworkability like the plain white chocolate. There are lots of recipes out there for this. I used: 4 ounces white chocolate, 2 ounces (1/2 stick) butter, 1 cup sifted confectioner's sugar, 2-3 tablespoons milk. Melt chocolate and butter together in the microwave (do 1 minute at 50% power, check and stir, do additional 30-second increments until smooth, and be careful not to scorch), then mix in the sugar and add enough milk to make it thin enough to drizzle. You can just use a fork to drip the glaze. I have a little icing gun that worked well. The glaze will harden somewhat.
And there you have it. It sounds like a lot of steps, and it is, but each one is pretty easy. I would say that of all the cupcakes I make these are probably the most popular. I've now made them for three weddings. And if you like raspberries better than strawberries, that's good, too. (Actually better, in my opinion, but the bride wanted strawberries, and that was perfectly fine.) Watch the newsletter for posts from this blog after we get the app finished.