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Suvir Saran

Individual/Mini Cheesecakes

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Is there a perfect recipe for cheesecake?

What should one do when preparing them for individual portions?

What is best, light or dense? Which would work better for an individual portion?

What should I know about making these?

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What would be the right texture for the situation in which you want to serve it? As a rich ending to a light meal, or vice versa? That matters a lot, I think. John Thorne has a piece on "The Ultimate Cheesecake" recipe that appeared in the NY Times in 1974. His basic premise is that there is no perfect recipe, as the Times would have us believe; everyone's taste is different. Of course, he's right.

That said, it's a great recipe, and I've made it quite a few times (it's just ground toasted nuts, cream cheese, heavy cream, eggs, sugar, and vanilla, in a light graham cracker crust). Very rich, somewhat soft.

But looking for it, I found in my files a recipe for the cheesecake at The Tasting Room, similar in its simplicity, but using the nuts for the crust, and only egg whites to make a meringue into which the cream cheese and vanilla are folded. It too looks very, very yummy. At any rate, Amanda Hesser liked it a lot. :biggrin:

I suppose any cheesecake recipe could be made in individual portions -- just use ramekins instead of a cake pan, and bake for a shorter time. Still in a water bath, though, because the heat has to be gentle. The real experts here can give you more concrete advice, I'm sure.

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How big are you planning on making them? I have some 4 inch Wilton springform pans and a basic recipe for cheesecake. Are you using springforms or ramekins?

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beans   

As with much baking, be very careful not to overmix the cheesecake batter.

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Joni   

Suzanne.would you mind posting the Tasting Room cheesecake? Sounds heavenly....(land light!!) I always thought a "cheesecake tasting party" would be fun!

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What would be the right texture for the situation in which you want to serve it? As a rich ending to a light meal, or vice versa? That matters a lot, I think. John Thorne has a piece on "The Ultimate Cheesecake" recipe that appeared in the NY Times in 1974.  His basic premise is that there is no perfect recipe, as the Times would have us believe; everyone's taste is different.  Of course, he's right. 

That said, it's a great recipe, and I've made it quite a few times (it's just ground toasted nuts, cream cheese, heavy cream, eggs, sugar, and vanilla, in a light graham cracker crust).  Very rich, somewhat soft.

But looking for it, I found in my files a recipe for the cheesecake at The Tasting Room, similar in its simplicity, but using the nuts for the crust, and only egg whites to make a meringue into which the cream cheese and vanilla are folded.  It too looks very, very yummy. At any rate, Amanda Hesser liked it a lot.  :biggrin:

I suppose any cheesecake recipe could be made in individual portions -- just use ramekins instead of a cake pan, and bake for a shorter time.  Still in a water bath, though, because the heat has to be gentle. The real experts here can give you more concrete advice, I'm sure.

Suzanne, I would be gladly willing to go with your sage advice over the scarce and not as oftenly distributed advice of experts. If they give it often, some of them wrongly believe their status is reduced. And I am not saying such is the case just on this pastry forum on eGullet, but in general. If all I wanted was expert advice, I have many books to reference. I was hoping for feedback from those such as yourself. Chefs who have worked in many levels in a kitchen and who also cook at home. Perfect balance.

Please PM me the recipes if you can... and I shall be thankful and very appreciative.

I shall love to work with the recipe or two you send. :smile:

I have always used a water bath.. and we also use small tin pans. The cheesecake at Amma has been quite the rage. Reviewer or ordinary diner, have all been impressed with the very light creamy texture and the very intense mango flavor of what Surbhi Sahni (Hemants wife) prepares for us.

I am now working on the next menu. Have to start way early, so I have done plenty of homework, before we start serving it.

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FoodMan   

Speaking of cheescakes, should they all be baked in water bath?? This is what I've been doing and getting a very creamy cheesecake. However, I do prefer a slightly more "crumbly" dessert and on "Tyler's Ultimate" a guy (not sure who) baked a NY style cheescake without the water bath and it came out a little brown on top but the texture looked perfect and I am planning on giving it a try. any comments??

Good luck Suvir and sorry I have no input regarding your query.

Elie

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JFLinLA   

Suvir -- Would love to benefit from your efforts on this so please do share your results and findings and recommendations for making individual cheesecakes. I'd love to be able to make bite-sized ones in mini-muffin pans. What do you think?

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Well I certainly don't have the "expert" ranking some of the men here have....but I'm a decent expert on this topic. I've made a zillion different recipes a zillion different ways.

Your questions: answers....

1. No there isn't a perfect one recipe. Like Suzan mentioned there's different styles/types and everyone has a favorite. The only cheesecake I haven't loved is a dry or stale one.

2. You don't do anything different for individual then large. But for mini's I like a wetter batter, so they don't dry out so quickly while baking.

3. None are better over another type, they all can be baked in individual size.

4. My personal tips:

Always prebake your crusts before you fill them with your raw batter. This prevents the crust from getting soft, makes them hold together nicer for cutting and brings out the flavor of your crust.

After my crust is prebaked, I spray the inside walls of my pan with a pan release that doesn't contain water in the ingredient list. I've had people object to this-but then watch them try to release their cakes cleanly...they can't.

Don't over beat your cheese while mixing. Instead scrap down your mixing bowl repeatedly. Mix your sugar into the cheese and mix ONLY these two ingredients until there are no lumps. DO NOT add any further ingredients until the cheese and sugar have NO lumps. When making large batches I often microwave my cheese to aid in the softening process. I take it to aprox. 100 degrees at the most.

When you add your eggs. The first ones are the most important....because if you had any remaining lumps and add your eggs quickly with-out scrapping down your bowl-those lumps will never get beaten down (although they are rarely noticed in light colored cheesecakes they are noticed in dark chocolate batters). So add your eggs slowly and again-* scrapping down your bowl is important.

The biggest mistake I see with novices is they over beat their mixture. I've seen people dump 20lbs of cheese in a mixer, set the timer for 30 minutes and not come back once to scrap down their bowl.

Also don't whip your batter. Use a paddle on slow speed.

Cheesecakes are extremely quick to mix up and get in the oven...when done right. A smooth batter comes from scrapping the bowl frequently.

After I've filled my pan with the batter I either tap the pan gently down on the table to release any large air pockets or I use a rubber spatula and using downward strokes try to press out air pockets. I believe that air pockets create a fault and the baked cheesecake can crack or sink from the pocket.

Baking tips:

Well, once upon a time I swore baking in a water bath was necessary. But I have great success not using waterbaths.

(In conjunction with which recipe you use...in general) A water bath will give you a moister custard type of cake.

But for a denser heavy cheesecake you don't need a water bath. And whether you place a pan of hot h2o on the bottom of your oven for added moisture....well I'm not so certain it makes alot of difference anymore.

I completely object to using springform pans for cheesecakes. In fact I rarely see any purpose in own them. I prefer 3" tall cake pans. So individual cheesecakes CAN be baked in just about any heat conducting container! If you do use a spring form pan you can't use a dirrect water bath unless your DOUBLE wrap them in foil. Even then you often get leakage of water that ruins the cake. That's why a solid sided pan always is best.

I never ever bake them in a hot oven. Regardless of the printed instructions. I've read dirrections that tell you to start in a higher heat and dial down. I completely disagree with that. These are much like baked custards and should be baked at a low long heat. I usually bake (regardless of recipe) at 250F- tops 275f. low fan if your using a convection oven.

One of the harder things to know is when it's done. I use the jiggle test and look closely at the center to make sure it has a flat sheen. Any gloss or shine means it's not baked in the center. The jiggle test-a little jiggle is fine, but if it moves like jello, it's not done.

For a 9" wide by 3" deep cake pan, it takes aprox. 2 hours to bake. Individual in 3" wide by 2" deep springforms about 30 minutes, mini's cupcake sized 12 to 15 minutes (never longer then 15 minutes).

Another important factor- cooling them down. When I take them from the oven I try to place them in a draft free place where they can slowly return to room temp. Don't refridgerate these until their room temp..

To unmold, I always freeze my cakes. You can freeze them hard-over night or for 3 or 4 hours. Then I invert my pan and with a blow torch heat the sides and bottom of the pan. The cake ALWAY comes out cleanly with perfect sides with this technique.


Edited by Sinclair (log)
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My favorite recipes:

White chocolate cheesecake, medium moist. When you add chocolate to cheesecake batters they become firmer to handle and easiest to slice.

1/2 c. heavy cream

6 oz. melted white chocolate

make a ganche of two items

1.5 lbs cream cheese

3/4 c. sugar

beaten together, when sooth add in the ganche from above.

4 eggs

added one at a time

1/4 pod of scrapped vanilla bean

1 tsp. almond emulsion

Lemon Cheesecake-nicely moist

2.4 lbs cream cheese

1 3/4 c. sugar

3 tbsp. flour

4 eggs

2 yolks

1/4 c. heavy cream

1 tsp. lemon extract

1 tbsp. lemon rind

I bake this one on a chocolate crust with cinnamon sugar.

All around cheesecake-pretty dense and rich. I bake this in full size sheet pans and it can be flavored with any extract, puree, zest, alchol, etc.. It's never cracked on me yet and is very easy use.

56 oz. cream cheese

1 c. sugar

4 eggs

1/2 c. sour cream

1 tbsp. vanilla

Mini cheesecakes

24 oz. cream cheese

1 c. sugar

5 eggs

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Bake 13 minutes aprox. and spoon the following recipe on top, return cheesecakes to the oven and bake an additional 5 minutes.

1 pint sour cream

1/4 c. sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

Cheesecake is extremely verstile. I mix it with flourless chocolate cake batter and get a "flourless white and chocolate cake". I layer them with mutliple flavors, like chocolate and orange, chocolate and praline, chocolate and coffee. You can do as many layers as you want. I do a white, milk and semi sweet in one pan. I bake them in whole sheet pans and cut them into petite fours or use flexipans in odd shapes to bake them. You can even bake it on top of a semi baked cake.

I forget where, but not that long ago I mentioned tips on making crusts. Maybe someone could post a link to that thread??

I highly reccomend using Krafts and Philly brand cream cheese's recipes (you'll find them online). Mary Crownover published a nice book on this topic "Cheesecake extraodinaire", published by contemporary books in 1994. Every recipe I tried worked like a charm and tasted very good.


Edited by Sinclair (log)
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Thanks All! :smile:

Can anyone share a basic recipe for crust and the cake?

Also, as I do not use springform pans, what if any greasing should I do before patting down the crust?

How do you make your crust? Do you add butter or some other fat to the ground cookies? Nuts?

Can you post a recipe or PM me one... Would love to play around with a few different ones.

Thanks!

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We use silpat muffin pans for the tiny cheesecakes we make as a dessert to accompany our tasting menu at Amma.

Sinclair, what can you give as tips for non-springform pans. WHat is the best way of using them for cheesecakes? Individual ones that is. As I mentioned before, we have the 3 inch dia. and 2 inch deep tin pans. And the silpat very tiny muffin tray.

I would love a recipe if you can share one. Both for the crust and the cheesecake.

Thanks! I mean it most sincerely.

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EllenC   

I am just a home baker but I make cheesecake all the time - both the large 11" cakes and one that are in muffin cups to mini muffin cups. I always use springform pans for my large cheesecakes (I don't have the small ones - I've been eyeing them lately tho) and I never use a water bath. Maybe that's just my recipe but I always get a cheesecake that rich and creamy and holds well in the fridge for days. (I actually hid one peice for a week before I got around to eating it).

I use muffin or mini muffin cups for individual servings. If the occasion is informal and I am in a hurry, I use paper muffin liners. They pop out easy and allow for toppings if desired. If it's more formal and I want the sides to look really clean, I use the freeze method.

I combine all of my ingredients in the blender. It makes a perfectly smooth texture and takes next to no time. I will note that my recipre uses less cream cheese than other recipes I've seen. It adds cottage cheese which makes it really moist and creamy. I have had many people who said they hated cheesecake that beg for mine.

I am at the office now but when I get home I will PM you the recipe.

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I am just a home baker but I make cheesecake all the time - both the large 11" cakes and one that are in muffin cups to mini muffin cups.  I always use springform pans for my large cheesecakes (I don't have the small ones - I've been eyeing them lately tho) and I never use a water bath.  Maybe that's just my recipe but I always get a cheesecake that rich and creamy and holds well in the fridge for days.  (I actually hid one peice for a week before I got around to eating it). 

I use muffin or mini muffin cups for individual servings.  If the occasion is informal and I am in a hurry, I use paper muffin liners.  They pop out easy and allow for toppings if desired.  If it's more formal and I want the sides to look really clean, I use the freeze method. 

I combine all of my ingredients in the blender.  It makes a perfectly smooth texture and takes next to no time.  I will note that my recipre uses less cream cheese than other recipes I've seen.  It adds  cottage cheese which makes it really moist and creamy.  I have had many people who said they hated cheesecake that beg for mine. 

I am at the office now  but when I get home I will PM you the recipe.

Welcome to eGullet EllenC. :smile:

Thanks for your post.

Looking forward to your recipe in my mailbox. If you can email it, even better. My email is chef@suvir.com.

Otherwise, PM is just fine. Thanks.

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Suvir -- Interesting and helpful thread. Glad you started it.

When you say you use "silpat muffin pans", is this something different than the flexipans? If so, how are they different and where do you get them. Do you freeze to release?

The Mango cheesecake at Amma sounds wonderful!

Thanks,

Richard

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JFLinLA   
I am just a home baker but I make cheesecake all the time - both the large 11" cakes and one that are in muffin cups to mini muffin cups.  I always use springform pans for my large cheesecakes (I don't have the small ones - I've been eyeing them lately tho) and I never use a water bath.  Maybe that's just my recipe but I always get a cheesecake that rich and creamy and holds well in the fridge for days.  (I actually hid one peice for a week before I got around to eating it). 

I use muffin or mini muffin cups for individual servings.  If the occasion is informal and I am in a hurry, I use paper muffin liners.  They pop out easy and allow for toppings if desired.  If it's more formal and I want the sides to look really clean, I use the freeze method. 

I combine all of my ingredients in the blender.  It makes a perfectly smooth texture and takes next to no time.  I will note that my recipre uses less cream cheese than other recipes I've seen.  It adds  cottage cheese which makes it really moist and creamy.  I have had many people who said they hated cheesecake that beg for mine. 

I am at the office now  but when I get home I will PM you the recipe.

Welcome to eGullet EllenC. :smile:

Thanks for your post.

Looking forward to your recipe in my mailbox. If you can email it, even better. My email is chef@suvir.com.

Otherwise, PM is just fine. Thanks.

PM me as well please and explain a little more about the "freezer" method for the fancier ones in mini-muffin pans and how you remove them. I think that's what I'm interested in.

Thanks in advance.

Jody

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wawairis   

I don't know if anyone brought this up (I just browsed the thread), but how about making a big or regular cheesecake and making individual rounds?

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EllenC   
To unmold, I always freeze my cakes. You can freeze them hard-over night or for 3 or 4 hours. Then I invert my pan and with a blow torch heat the sides and bottom of the pan. The cake ALWAY comes out cleanly with perfect sides with this technique.

I use basically this method for fancy cakes. I don't have a blow torch, however, so I use a REALLY HOT towel on the bottom of the muffin tin and press it between the cups of the muffin pan. Wendy is exactly right - they come out perfectly clean.

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Suvir -- Interesting and helpful thread. Glad you started it.

When you say you use "silpat muffin pans", is this something different than the flexipans? If so, how are they different and where do you get them. Do you freeze to release?

The Mango cheesecake at Amma sounds wonderful!

Thanks,

Richard

I mean flexipan. I have not tried the freeze to release method. Will have to now that I have read about it here.

The mango cheesecake that Surbhi makes at Amma has become quite a hit.

I am glad to know you find this helpful... I certainly do Richard. How is your baking coming along? What are you cooking lately? Have not seen you around the boards... :smile:

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i use ring molds to make my individual cheesecakes. you can use any shape or size. they have no bottom, so i just press the crust into the bottom of the ring mold on the tray i plan to bake them. no water bath, just a lower temperature for a little longer time. i personally prefer the richer, creamier versions and my recipe contains cream cheese, mascarpone and creme fraiche as well as any flavoring i feel like adding. i just torch the ring mold to remove the cheesecake. no freezing necessary.

for crust, anything works. try different crusts with different flavors of cheesecake. i like some nut based ones, but they can be pretty fatty. one of my favorite crusts is just shortbread cookie dough baked and then crushed (sometimes you can pulse in a food processor). no added butter needed because shortbread is so rich.

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I have added nuts to cookies and then ground them in the food processor and added a little melted butter and then pressed the crust into the tin. Is that acceptable or should I be doing it some other way? :unsure:

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I posted recipes in thread above.

On crusts:I don't have a written recipe, sorry if this is confusing.

I know many people use nuts but I don't really like them in my crusts. They tend not to compact nicely into a firm crust. The flavor isn't pronounced unless you use ALOT of them. I think the moisture from the cheesecakes softens them...and it's a waste. If you want to use nuts I use them on top when serving so they remain toasted and pronounced.

Generally I use graham cracker crumbs or chocolate cookie crumbs. But you can use most cookies. To the fine crumbs I add seasoning usually a pinch of cinnamon, any spice to taste and about 1/2 cup sugar per 9" crust. I pour melted butter into my crumbs and mix by hand. I stop adding butter when the crumbs hold shape as I press them in my fist. If they don't hold shape in your hands you don't have enough butter and your crust will crumble as you pick up slices. If you have too much butter you'll see it looking greasie, add some more crumbs to correct.

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Thanks for the clarification, Suvir. I have been catching up for the past two weeks following a week vacation. That's just the way it seems to work. So I have not been posting much lately, though I have been following a number of threads. I have been trying to do a peach & mango cobbler or Clafouti for the past week and have not gotten it done yet. Soon...soon. I have been following this thread in interest, because I want to do a few individual desserts like the cheese cakes. What kind of 3 inch pans are you using? Plain aluminum? Are they straight vertical walls? The idea of using the flan rings like alanamona does appeals to me...partly because I can also use them for rustic tarts. :smile:

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plax   

I love adding chocolate mini-chips to my batter-- I find they float in the cake much better than standard-size chips.

Here's my favorite cheesecake recipe, one I've been making for years. It's a legacy from a housekeeper we had when I was a teenager:

Helen's Cheesecake

Neil

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