I should have known from the moment I saw these in the February 2009 Martha Stewart Living, that they would be another labor of love. But I’m a sucker for pretty foods and I didn’t listen to the little voice in my head telling me that my cupcakes would never be as gorgeous as Martha’s.
After a few ugly cupcakes and some internet consultations, I figured out the trick to making the pools of jam to look almost as nice as those of the domestic goddess. Hopefully, my tricks will help you out should you dare to attempt them.
I made a couple substitutions from the original recipe, namely, replacing the chocolate cookie crust with a gingersnap one. Chocolate just didn’t sound right to me with a springy, apricot dessert. If you wanted to do chocolate, then I think a berry jam would go better. Of course, I happen to think apricot really is the only jam worth making this with. Red jam wouldn’t look like anything, and I love how these look like eggs or suns.
Finally, the recipe says it makes 18, but I think it’s really a 14-16 cupcake recipe. The crust recipe was a little short, and I had to grind more cookies up. Then, I filled the tins, but couldn’t get to the top and they didn’t rise up. They were a little bit flat. So, I’ll probably do 15 next time.
Mini Cheesecakes with Apricot Jam
3/4 cup crumbled chocolate-wafer cookies (about 18 cookies)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1 pound cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sour cream (I used nonfat plain yogurt)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup apricot jam (at least, I probably used about 3/4 cup)
I also added a teaspoon of lemon zest.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Mix cookies and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar in a bowl. Stir in butter. Press 1 tablespoon of mixture in bottom of each cup. Bake until set, about 7 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks.
Reduce oven temperature to 275 degrees. Beat cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, then vanilla and lemon zest, if you are using it. With mixer running, add eggs slowly, scraping down side of bowl. Add sour cream (or yogurt) and salt. Pour batter into muffin cups, filling almost to the tops.
Bake until sides are set but centers are wobbly, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks. Wrap tins tightly with plastic, and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
Now, this is where things get tricky. My cheesecakes were not wobbly, they were firm and slightly domed. To make the pools, here’s what I did.
First, I lightly etched circles in each of the cupcakes using the tip of a grapefruit spoon. You could use a knife or whatever you’ve got. I recommend the grapefruit spoon if you have one, since it’s sharp, it will scoop better than a knife will, and it’s a little smaller than a spoon.
After etching the circles, I wiped the spoon clean, and heated it over a flame (just turned on a burner on my gas stove top). When it was still very hot, I carefully cut away the circles. It’s important that the spoon or knife that you use is hot, because that helps melt the cheesecake and you get a neater hole. You’ll have to wipe the spoon off and reheat every cupcake or two. You also may have to go back over the holes with a warmed spoon to smooth out the edges a little.
Warm the jam in a small saucepan until liquidy. Strain through a sieve. Spoon 1 teaspoon jam on top of each cake. It’s really much easier to do this while the jam is warm because it will firm up again as it cools, so you may have to reheat in the middle of the process.
The good news is that the jam pools do firm up, so these are fairly portable. I carried mine in tupperware about 12 blocks and they were still pretty looking upon arrival.
The recipe says that the cheesecakes will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days. While this is probably true, the leftover ones were looking not so pretty after about 24 hours. So, don’t make the jam pools until the day you want to impress people with them.
Read Full Post »