Thursday, December 13, 2007

Not a Comedian...

But I tried to improvise (a recipe) tonight... so not a big deal, right? True... in cooking, I often use a recipe as my base idea and then add/omit as I desire, or as my refrigerator and pantry dictate. But baking... improvise in baking? Except for the fact that I threw some Christmas colored M&Ms that weren't called for into my blondies last week, this may have been a first for me.

So they say to always cook (or bake!) with ingredients that you love, right? *don't quote me, I may have made that up but it's worked out for me! It all began last Christmas season, when I had my first taste of my now favorite version of Hershey's Kisses... and on the back of the bag was this recipe beckoning me to call her home.

The problem was that I didn't want to make an entire cheesecake for us - both of us do enjoy cheesecake and having sweets anywhere within arms reach these days is just not good news. So my thought... mini-cheesecakes without having to go to a kitchen store to buy individual springform pans.

I took a risk... I fully admit that, and while the result IS tasty (and my greatest fear, that the mini-cheesecakes wouldn't come out of the muffin tins cleanly, was all for naught!), it's just not cute... and really not even picture-worthy, though sadly, it does depict the dessert as it stands. I do like to say that I live and learn... and for sure now I know some things I'd do a bit differently should I repeat this recipe using my altered version. Maybe one day I'll do a "Live and Learn" post and record my second attempt.

While I can assure you that these little treats taste FAR better than their picture would indicate, I would definitely tweak my recipe a bit and hope that I am suddenly blessed with better photographic skills. One general comment about cheesecakes... after having now made a few using either a food processor or a mixer, I stand proudly on the food processor side of the aisle, it just makes a much smoother batter.

Individual Candy Cane Swirl Cheesecakes
makes approximately 6 cakes

Cookie Crumb Crust
3/4 cup vanilla wafer cookie crumbs (about 23 cookies)
1/2 TBSP sugar
1/8 c melted butter or margarine

1 1/2 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
3/8 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
about 1 1/2 eggs
about 20-22 HERSHEY'S KISSES Candy Cane Mint candies
1/2 TBSP milk
fresh, sweetened whipped cream, optional

Make the crusts: Heat oven to 350°F. Stir together vanilla wafer cookie crumbs and sugar in medium bowl; blend in melted butter or margarine. Press mixture onto bottom and up the side of about 6 greased muffin tins. Bake about 4-5 minutes; cool.

After preparing the crusts, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Set aside 1/4 cup batter; spread about 2 TBSP of remaining batter in each of the prepared crusts. *adjust the amount of batter in each tin as you need - should be about 2/3 of the way up the side of the tin

Place candies and milk in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at medium about 30 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave at medium another 10-15 seconds, stirring after each heating, until candies are melted and mixture is well blended when stirred. Gradually blend reserved cheesecake batter into candy mixture. Drop candy mixture by tablespoonfuls onto vanilla batter. Gently swirl with knife for marbled effect.

Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until center is almost set. Remove from oven to wire rack. With knife, loosen cakes from side of pan. Cool completely; remove cakes onto a flat surface. Cover; refrigerate until chilled. Garnish with optional whipped cream.

The way I see it... at least I conquered my fear of altering a recipe?! I just need to do a better job about proportions and other teeny, tiny, insignificant (right?) details.

On the flip side, I did get to finally make a recipe that I've been looking forward to. Course, that's just one of many... I have a whole host of recipes that I've bookmarked or earmarked, just waiting for me to try my hand at them... at risk of this sounding like a recipe-exchange, I'd love to know what tops your list as the next new recipe to try?

And if you don't have enough cookies on that 'list' of yours, check out the just released Washington Post 2007 cookie guide!


  1. Sound delish! I might try something similiar...perhaps using individual pyrex cups?

  2. Yum! Cheesecake is fabulous in ANY form. And the Post went much more "gourmet" in its cookie choices this year, didn't it?


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