It took me two days to complete the four steps required to create this dessert, but I do believe that the end results were worth the effort . . . and I hope you do, too!
Step 1: PREPARE & BAKE GF GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
YOU WILL NEED:
- ! Box (7.5 oz) *Gluten-free Cinnamon Graham Crackers (I used Pamela's Brand)
- 6 ounces Unsalted Butter at room temperature
- 1 12-cup Muffin pan
- A Food Processor
*You will need about 2 cups of crumbled graham crackers to proceed
- Put the graham crackers into the food processor, breaking them up into big pieces as you do so.
- Pulse the broken crackers as many times as needed to crumble them into fairly big crumbles.
- Add the 6 TBS's of softened butter and blend (pulse) until you have a well-blended mixture of moist crumbles (blend until you can "clump" some of the mixture between your fingers).
- Place approximately 1 rounded TBS of the mixture into each of the muffin cups and press down firmly with your fingers.
- Bake the crust for about 8 minutes (or until evenly browned); remove from oven and allow to cool while you make the filling (allow to cool completely; about 1 hour).
- *In about 1 hour you will need a 300 degree F oven, so either shut your oven off now, or reduce the temperature to 300 degrees F and hold it there until you are ready to fill and bake the cheesecakes.
Step 2: PREPARE THE CHEESECAKE FILLING
Preheat oven to 300 F.
- Fill an oven-proof dish with 2 cups of water and place it on the bottom rack of the oven. (This will help to keep the mini-cheesecakes from cracking).
INGREDIENTS FOR THE CHEESECAKE FILLING:
- 4 ounces Cream Cheese at room temperature
- 2/3 Cup Chocolate-flavored Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 1/2 Cup Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
- 1/2 Cup Italian-style Marscapone Cream Cheese
- 2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
- 2 Large Eggs (I prefer organic cage-free brown eggs)
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh Orange Zest
- Place the cream cheese in the bottom of a large mixing bowl and mash it down a bit with a fork.
- Pour the Chocolate-flavored Condensed Milk over the cream cheese and beat until smooth.
- Add the Ricotta and Marscapone cheeses and the Vanilla Extract and beat again until smooth.
- Add the eggs, 1 egg at a time, beating each time until the egg is well blended into the mixture.
- Add the Orange Zest, mix just until well blended, then ladle the mixture over the graham cracker crusts,filling each cup almost to the top.
- Just before putting the muffin pan in the oven I got the bright idea to sprinkle some chocolate chips onto of each filled muffin cup.
- Place the muffin pan on the upper oven rack and bake at 300 degrees F for 18 to 20 minutes (the cheesecakes should be slightly "jiggly" around the center, but firm around the sides when done - mine took 18 minutes).
- Remove muffin pan from the oven and allow to cool on a rack until cool enough to place in the refrigerator; then refrigerate for at least 6 hours before glazing with the ganache (see next step) - I covered the muffin pan and left it in the refrigerator overnight.
- When the mini cheesecake muffins were first removed from the oven, they were nice and "puffy." bit after a few minutes they deflated somewhat. . .that is to be expected!
Step 3: PREPARE THE GANACHE AND GLAZE THE MINI MUFFINS
- 1/2 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 1 Cup White Chocolate Chips
- 1/2 Cup Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
- Mix the Whipping Cream & Chocolate chips together in a microwaveable bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir; if the mixture is not smooth, microwave for another 15 or 20 seconds.
- Remove the chilled muffins from the refrigerator and drop a little off the whole cranberry sauce onto the top of each muffin; then cover with the White Chocolate Ganache, letting some run down the sides.
- NOTE: I was experimenting here. I dropped a little Whole Cranberry Sauce onto the top of 1/2 of the muffins, and sprinkled some more chocolate chips on the other half; then I covered them with the ganache. I felt that they looked a little dull, so I added some more cranberry sauce and chips to the tops of the muffins and I think this really enhanced their appearance.
This recipe is a variation of the ganache recipe that I found online at: http://www.acupofmascarpone.com/2012/11/chocolate-cranberry-fudge-cake-with.html
Step 4: TIME FOR DESSERT . . .
A rich finishing touch to a great Holiday Dinner!
I have estimated the nutrition for this recipe to the best of my ability using the MyFitnessPal Recipe Analyzer. It appears that each mini cheesecake contains about 284 calories; the ganache will add approximately 146 more calories to this dessert. Once in a while you have to throw caution to the wind and enjoy your sweets!
PLEASE NOTE: My recipe for Gluten-Free Mini Ricotta Chocolate Cheese Cakes was inspired by Marcela-Valladolid's Mexican Ricotta Cheesecake recipe that was posted on www.foodnetwork.com.