Cheesecake cupcakes are a decadent treat

Cheesecakecupcakes1

I owe you a recipe. I didn’t post Sunday because I didn’t have anything I felt was suitable for Valentine’s Day. But when my team had its monthly potluck today—the theme was “foods we love”—it was the perfect excuse to bake something. I made my Strawberry Bavarian Pie because it’s one of my favorite things, but also realized that I’d missed a team member’s birthday, and he had specified that cheesecake is his favorite dessert.

I’ve had a hit-and-miss experience with cheesecake. I’ve only made it two or three times. The first time, I overbaked it and it cracked. The second time I was nervous about overbaking it, so I underbaked it. It was frustrating on both accounts. This time around, since I didn’t want to wait for a full cheesecake to bake, I decided to look up cupcake recipes and saw this one. It was really easy to put together, and they were, by far, the best cheesecakes I’ve ever made. They were single-serving-size perfection.

So, if you’re still looking for a recipe for your Valentines, whip up a batch of these. They’re a winner. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Crust
1 cup graham wafer crumbs
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
4 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted

In a small bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press a heaping tablespoon of crumbs onto the bottoms of the 12 muffin cups. Cover and refrigerate while you make the filling.

Filling
2 8-ounce packages of full fat cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the cream cheese on low speed until creamy and smooth. Add the sugar and salt and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the vanilla extract, lemon zest, and sour cream and beat until incorporated. Remove the crusts from the refrigerator and evenly divide the filling among the 12 muffin cups.

Bake for about 18-22 minutes or until firm but the centers of the cheesecakes still wobble a little. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Let cool and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (a few hours or even overnight).

A recipe to ‘wow’ your guests

redvelvetcheesecakebrownies

Red Pen Recipes turned 1 year old on Friday. This time last year I was nervous about whether I’d have enough time to try new recipes often enough to write a new post each week. I’m happy to say this blog has kept me doing what I hoped it would: writing for pleasure and keeping me trying new things in the kitchen.

Of the 52 recipes I wrote about in the past year, the Rum Raisin Rice Pudding was one of my favorite new discoveries, and homemade applesauce was a close second. They’re both Barefoot Contessa recipes I hadn’t tried before.

To celebrate the one-year mark, I decided to reformat my blog. I chose this format for its cleaner look and to showcase the photos a little more. I hope you enjoy the new look.

While Friday marked the first anniversary of Red Pen Recipes, it also marked the final day for one of my staff members. One of my reporters accepted a new job in Santa Fe, N.M., so I wanted to bake something special for her before she left. I flipped through some of my cookbooks and considered a few different items before I remembered the Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies recipe a friend gave me a few years ago.

This recipe is something I save for special occasions, when I really want to “wow” someone. It combines three desserts a lot of people enjoy, and has yet to disappoint. Cheesecake, red velvet cake and brownies can each require a rather involved process, but this three-in-one treat is pretty simple to make — you just have to use three bowls to combine different ingredients before putting them together.

Thanks for reading. I look forward to bringing you more recipes in the coming year.

Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring (or six drops red food gel)
2/3 cup all purpose flour (use 1 cup at high altitude)
1/4 teaspoon salt (use 1/2 at high altitude)
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (use 1 teaspoon at high altitude)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 8-inch square baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up two sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. (This will make it easy to remove the bars from the pan after they have baked.) Butter the parchment.


In a small, heatproof bowl, melt butter and chocolate together in the microwave. Put it in 3 seconds at a time until soft enough to stir. Stir until combined and very smooth. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.


In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and red food coloring. Add chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Add flour and salt and stir until just combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Pour into prepared pan and spread into an even layer.


To prepare cheesecake mixture, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla extract in a medium bowl until smooth. Distribute the cheesecake mixture in eight dollops over batter in the pan. Swirl in with a knife or spatula.


Bake for 35-40 minutes (it could take up between 45 and 50 minutes at high altitude), until brownies and cheesecake are set. A knife inserted into the cheesecake mixture should come out clean and the edges will be lightly browned.


Let cool completely in pan on a cooling rack before lifting out the parchment paper to remove the brownies.