Lunchbreak: Kathy Wakile makes almond joyous cheesecake cuties

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Kathy Wakile

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Almond Joyous Cheesecake Cuties


2 large egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

1/2 cup sour cream
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract

Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
3 Tablespoons sour cream
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons coconut extract
1/4 cup almonds, toasted and finely chopped
sliced almonds, for garnish

Two 12-cavity mini cheesecake pans
Food processor
Electric mixer
Small pastry tamper, optional
2 large rimmed baking sheets

Preheat the oven to 350F with one rack positioned in the center of the oven and another rack positioned at the bottom of the oven. Fill a broiler pan or roasting pan with about 2 inches of water and set it on the bottom rack. To make the crust, combine the egg whites with the sugar in a medium bowl and use an electric mixer to beat to very stiff peaks. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the coconut until well combined. Scoop about 1 Tablespoon of the mixture into each cavity in the mini cheesecake pan and use the back of the measuring spoon to firmly compress the mixture into an even layer about 1/4 inch thick.  Set aside. To make the almond topping, in a small bowl stir together the sour cream, sugar, and almond extract. Set aside. To make the filling, in a separate bowl beat together the cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth and creamy. Beat in each egg separately and scrape down the bowl after each addition. Continue to mix at medium speed and add the sour cream, heavy cream, almond extract, and coconut extract. Set the cheesecake pans on rimmed baking sheets (this will make it easier to get them in and out of the oven). Press the crust down again to ensure that it is well packed. Transfer the filling to a large measuring cup with a spout and pour enough filling into each cavity of the pans to fill a bit more than three-quarters of the way up to the rim. Bake for 7 minutes at 350°F then lower the temperature to 250°F and bake 10 to 12 more minutes, or just until the surfaces of the cuties are set at the outer edges but still wobbly in the center. (Keep a close eye on them!) Take the pans out of the oven and divide the almond topping among the cakes, spooning an even layer onto each and smoothing the tops with the back of the spoon. Top with the chopped almonds, then return the pans to the oven and bake for an additional 7 minutes. (They’ll still look wet, but they will set as they cool.) Let the cakes cool in the pans for 3 to 5 minutes, then run the tip of a very sharp knife around the top edge of each cake (this will unstick any topping that has adhered to the side of the pan and help the cake come out of the pan easily and flawlessly once they are cool.) Don’t try to add the chocolate ganache or unmold the cakes while they are still warm! Let the cuties cool in the pans all the way to room temperature, at least 30 minutes. Then chill in pans for 2 hours before unmolding and topping with ganache. Carefully unmold the cuties by pressing the little round disk underneath each cake upward to raise the cake so that its bottom is level with the pan rim, then slide a small spatula underneath the cake. To cover the cuties with ganache, arrange the unmolded cheesecakes on a wire rack that’s sitting on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Use an offset spatula or butter knife to carefully apply a thin layer of ganache to the tops and sides of each cutie. Let dry, then go over the cheesecakes again to smooth out any spots you may have missed, working from the top first and then down around the sides (dipping the spatula or knife in hot water and wiping dry periodically will also help keep the ganache smooth). Garnish with sliced almonds and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight before serving. (You could chill the cuties overnight before adding ganache, then chill more briefly just to set the ganache. The cuties can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 days and are also freezable.)

Makes about 3/4 cup

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

Combine the chocolate, cream, and butter in a small heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is very smooth.
Let the ganache cool to room temperature before using.


Apple Crumblekins
Makes about 1 dozen

4 medium crisp, tart apples
1/2 lemon
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, for dotting tops of crumbles

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
6 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins or sweetened dried cranberries

Twelve 3-ounce ramekins, custard cups, or other baking dishes

Preheat the oven to 350F with a rack positioned in the center. Generously grease the ramekins. To make the filling, peel, core, and chop the apples into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces and transfer them to a large mixing bowl (you should have about 6 cups of chopped apples). Squeeze the lemon over the top and toss lightly to combine. Add the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt to the apples and mix thoroughly. (At this point the apple filling can be stored overnight in an airtight container in the refrigerator.) To make the crumble topping, combine the flour, oats, sugar, butter, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Blend with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the nuts and raisins and mix lightly with your fingers to incorporate. Spoon a few Tablespoons of apple filling into each ramekin, filling about ¾ of the way up to the rim and packing firmly with the back of the spoon. Top the filling with a piece of butter, then  spoon on a heaping tablespoon of topping and pat gently to settle it down onto the apples, mounding up the topping a bit as the apples will shrink as they cook. Set the ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. (This will make the ramekins easier to handle and catch any drippings that bubble over during baking; or go a step further and line the sheet with foil or parchment paper to make for really easy cleanup.) Bake on the middle rack for 20 to 30 minutes, or until nicely browned and bubbling, rotating the tray midway through the baking time. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. TIP: In a pinch, you could use a muffin pan with foil cup liners or doubled paper liners instead of the ramekins. It makes for a less charming presentation, but it works.

Chantilly Cream
Makes about 2 cups

1 cup cold heavy cream
seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon confectioners’ sugar, optional

Combine the cream, vanilla, and sugar in a large bowl and whip to soft peaks.


From Indulge by Kathy Wakile, with Miriam Harris. Copyright © 2014 by the authors and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, LLC

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