Lately, I have been rather addicted to TV programs featuring food and cooking, namely the US Masterchef and the Australia Junior Masterchef series. Although gluing myself in front of my television set has made me somewhat a couch potato at times, watching these programs allow me to be exposed to the food culture of other national boundaries.
It is no easy feat taking part in these culinary competitions. Imagine the immense pressure faced by the contestants given the allocated time, not forgetting that there are judges breathing down their neck and monitoring their every progress as they prepare their food. What amazes me is that these participants are left on their own to mastermind their culinary creations, without the availability of recipes to refer to. I can hardly imagine myself baking a cake or making a dessert without any recipes to refer to. My mind will just be a total blank. It just didn't come across to me as something quite possible, especially when there is a hundred and one things to learn and so many precise measurements when it comes to desserts.
Since I do not cook often, I very much hoped that most of the challenges will come in the form of desserts or bakes. Watching these participants toil their hearts out in the kitchen, I have my utmost admiration towards their passion and love for everything food.
I am glad that being a couch potato has helped me re-ignite my love for food and the process of creating them, which are usually in the form of bakes. However, remaining a couch potato will not help me improve my baking skills in anyway. There is a need to practice. A whole of it it in fact.
Practicing means finding more opportunities to try out recipes. Since the cupcake mood is still ongoing, I figured I would try out even more recipes from my Martha Stewart Cupcakes. Instead of the usual cupcakes, it will be with a twist - cupped cheesecakes.
Making cheesecakes in cupcake form is definitely a clever idea. Whoever thought of it is a genius. It is so much easier to do these mini cheesecakes in a water bath and there is no need to spend more than 2 hours to bake a thick and dense 8 inch or 9 inch round cheesecake in a springform tin. Each batch will probably take at most 30 minutes and the chilling time is subsequently reduced due to the significant reduction in size compared to a full-size cheesecake. Furthermore, these dainty looking cheesecakes look perfect for parties and gatherings or as giveaways.
Not all was a success though. The Oreo mini cheesecakes turned out thick, dense and creamy with a slight vanilla flavoured tang, indicative of a good cheesecake. Although the raspberry swirl cheesecakes were a nice sight to look at, the tart berry flavour did not quite come through. With a little nip and tuck on the recipe, the results should be promising.
Mini Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes ( recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes)
Serving size: Makes 13 standard size cupped cheesecakes
Taste and texture: Dense, thick and creamy with a slight tang.
Equipment and Materials:
Making the cheesecakes
Prepare oven and muffin tin - Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
Adding eggs and sour cream - Add the eggs in four parts and beat until batter is evenly mixed. Lastly, mix in sour cream on low speed and beat until combined. Scrap sides and bottom of bowl.
Removing air bubbles from batter - Using a spatula, push the batter against the wall of the mixing bowl, attempting to flatten the batter and remove air bubbles. Repeat to get rid of most of the air bubbles. This will prevent air bubbles from rising to the surface and bursting while baking, creating little craters.
Adding chopped Oreos - Fold in coarsely chopped Oreo cookies and ensure they are evenly dispersed.
Diving the batter - Place a whole Oreo in each muffin liner. This will act as the cheesecake base. Divide the batter into 13 muffin liners.
Baking the cheesecakes - Place muffin tin filled with cheesecake batter over a large baking tin. Pour hot water into the baking tin. This is known as a water bath, ensuring that the oven maintains a moist environment during baking and helps to churn out smooth cheesecakes.
Bake mini cheesecakes in the water bath for 22-25 minutes at 160 degrees C or until cheesecake filling is fully set and not jiggly.
Once cheesecakes are done. Allow them to cool in the muffin tin completely before chilling them for 2-4 hours to allow the texture to firm up. For best results, chill overnight.
- Since I only have a single 6-hole muffin tin, I baked the rest of the cheesecakes in souffle cup liners placed on mini tart tins (prevent souffle cups from becoming wet due to direct contact with water bath) which are placed in the water bath.