Monday, April 23, 2012

Upside-down Strawberry Cheesecakes with...

Toffee(ish) pretzel crust!!
These babies are homemade cheesecake, topped with fresh strawberry puree, AND a sweet and salty pretzel "crust" crumble. The crust is the best part in my opinion, it was a perfect blend of sweet and salty to add personality to these mini-desserts.

We are still enjoying these left-over from the refrigerator. Of course, when I first made them, they were warm and sooo delicious. But the good news is, they are also sooo delicious when cold, which makes them even better because they are versatile.

This was another example of me setting out to make one thing, and then it turning into something else, as you will see through the pictures. Both concepts were pretty much identical with a few presentation differences because to me, presentation is (almost) as important as taste.

I call them "upside down" because as you can see, the crust is on top of this cheesecake, which makes it even better. I wanted to use up the last of our batch of fresh-picked berries, so here's what happened:

I set out to make cheesecake cupcakes:

I even took the time to hand-swirl the fresh strawberry puree onto the tops.

The strawberry love was still there :) (you all see the heart right? not just me?)

As you can see, they were definitely not as pretty, but indeed, they were yummy nonetheless.
Ok, how can we make these better?

The crust turned out amazing so let's feature that...

Maybe I'll put the crust ON TOP?! Okay, we're getting somewhere now.
But the cupcake liners were a little flimsy...

So we'll try the same thing in a mini-baking dish.



So to make these, you'll need for the crust:
1 cup crushed pretzels
6 tablespoons unsalted, sweet cream butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

For the filling:
2 - 8 ounce packs of cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Strawberry puree:
about 6 large strawberries (or about 8 medium size)
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350*F.
These measurements will yield about 12 - 6 ounce custard cups or 18 regular-size cupcakes. 
If using custard cups, lightly grease. For cupcakes, use cupcake liners.

In a small mixing bowl, combine your crushed pretzel (some slightly larger bits are okay, the pretzels do not need to be completely in crumb-form), sugar and melted butter. Mix thoroughly with a fork. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, add your 2 - 8 ounce cream cheeses and mix 1- 2 minutes on medium speed with a hand mixer. Add your 2 large eggs and mix with hand mixer until well blended. Stir in your sugar and vanilla until mostly mixed, then continue to mix with hand mixer for several minutes until mixture is smooth and creamy. Set aside.

In a blender or food processor, puree your strawberries and sugar until completely pureed. Mixture will be smooth and slightly frothy. Set aside, or rather now, gather your three mixtures and get ready to assemble.

For the custard cups, divide your cream cheese mixture among them (about 1/4-1/3 full). On top of the cream cheese, add a large tablespoon (or more, if you have enough) of your strawberry puree. Top the first two layers with 1 large tablespoon of your pretzel mixture.

Bake about 25 minutes.

If you are making cupcakes, use slightly less in each dish (liner) than the measurements listed above to get 18. I mentioned before the liners made the desserts a little flimsy, however, once chilled they become more firm. In fact, I ate one from a cupcake liner using a spoon just before I made these :)  The cupcakes will bake for 24-25 minutes.



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