Raspberry Mini Cheesecakes

I somehow managed to get sick AGAIN last week, thus the surge in posts (2 posts within a week is a lot!).   It all started on Valentine’s Day – the day I was planning to surprise Kevin with a new cheesecake recipe I came across back in January.  However, we miraculously must have channeled the germ gods at the same time because we both ended up feeling fatigued and sniffly by the end of the day.  After almost a week straight of feeling congested, unquenchably dehydrated, and tired, I finally regained my energy over President’s Day weekend – enough energy to cook-up a storm.

Tears of Unfathomable Sadness
Tears of Unfathomable Sadness

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, or so the cliché goes.  However, the object of my affection has a bottomless pit for a stomach and peculiar taste preferences, so I’ve really had to change up my game in the last few months.  While my food staples are quinoa, fresh produce, and lean proteins, Kevin’s are Party Pizza, Carl’s Jr. western bacon cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets, and hot sauce.  While I like to think I’ve always been a decent cook (considering my parents don’t cook so I pretty much figured it out on my own), it’s been a challenge to meet halfway between an “obsessively healthy” cooking style to cuisine that has a lot of flavor additives.  The man even said STEAK doesn’t have enough flavor…to which I replied, “That’s because you haven’t had mine yet”.   Challenge accepted.  I said I was going to make steaks for dinner.

After an hour’s worth of time at Ralphs and Trader Joe’s followed by a 3-hour (yes, THREE HOUR) stint in the kitchen,  I’m glad to share with you my well-rounded (albeit not calorie-friendly) dinner featuring a dinner salad, my favorite homemade steak, mac and cheese (Kevin’s pick), and raspberry mini cheesecakes.  The raspberry cheesecakes really are the main event to this post, but I was taking tons of photos for the cheesecakes anyway so I figured why not do the same for the meal as a whole.

Who can resist a medium-rare filet mignon rubbed with a little fresh ground pepper and kosher salt?  I topped it with some fried garlic and grilled onions on the side.  Nom.

Steak with Fried Garlic
Steak with Fried Garlic

Next up, we have baked mac and cheese, utilizing a recipe I borrowed from Alton Brown.

Mac and Cheese
Mac and Cheese

Last but not least, sweets for my sweet.  I made a raspberry puree sauce with my “hand-y” food processor.  That is, I don’t own a food processor so I mashed a container of raspberries with a fork and separated the seeds from the fruit.  I didn’t need the raspberry seeds/guts for this recipe, but it made a nice pseudo-jam for my almond butter sandwich the next morning.

Raspberry Sauce (right) and Seeds (left)
Raspberry Sauce (right) and Seeds (left)

The hardest part about making these guys was dealing with the water bath situation.  I drowned one or two mini cheesecakes in water every time I took a batch out of the oven.  The other difficult step was drawing the hearts, while taking a photo in one hand and keeping my other hand steady while doing the heart.  I didn’t have any toothpicks handy, so I improvised by using an uncooked soba noodle to draw the hearts.

Drawing the Hearts
Drawing the Hearts

I thoroughly enjoyed this particular recipe… dare I say even better than the Peanut Butter Chocolate Mini Cheesecakes I made for his birthday in August.  As fluffy as I thought those were, these were much more delicate and light, but still had a velvety rich taste to them. Voilà!

My Favorite Cheesecake Photo
My Favorite Cheesecake Photo

Check out the gallery for more photos!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Mini Cheesecakes

I would have to say my love of food is probably more fervent than the average person.  There is nothing I enjoy more than ordering 1.5 entrees when eating out, making enough food to last me a couple days and then eating it all in one sitting instead, talking about eating while I’m eating, stuffing my face til I can no longer formulate complete sentences . . . you get the picture.  I cook and eat mostly healthy fare, but I unfortunately inherited my dad’s sweet tooth and will probably inherit his diabetes as well.  I’ve learned by trial-and-error to only bake for other people and/or special occasions, because I end up eating the whole batch when I bake something just for myself.

I made these for a birthday dinner this past August, and the birthday boy was an avid cheesecake and peanut butter lover.  I had never made cheesecake before nor really eaten much of it, so this project was a bit of a challenge in that I didn’t know how to adjust cheesecake texture and flavor during the baking process like I know with cookies or regular cake.

I got the recipe for the Peanut Butter Chocolate Mini Cheesecakes from Food Network, courtesy of Paula Deen.  Click on the photos below for a larger view!

I had no idea how to make cheesecake fluffy, so I thought perhaps just beating the cheesecake mixture extra long with would do the trick.  I think it paid off – when I had my first bite, my favorite line from Despicable Me came to mind.  Big thanks to baking/cooking connoisseur Jay Liu for letting me borrow his electric mixer!

Again, I’m not an avid fan of cheesecake, but I have to admit these were pretty tasty.  The birthday boy liked them too, so that’s all that matters in the end.  Thanks, Paula Deen!