I have made grand plan when I saw two granny smith apples sitting forlornly in the fridge a few days ago. I told them that they were going to be transformed into Mozart. No, not that musician you have heard of. I am referring to Pierre Herme's creation in his book -Desserts by Pierre Herme. Grand plan indeed and I can almost sense the apples' excitement, especially after they have been deemed as good looking last month. They simply couldn't wait to show off again.
Unfortunately, the Mozart endeavor met its hurdle in the beginning stage and had to be abandoned. For some unfathomable reason, the cinnamon crust required in the recipe turned out all cracked up and thus, spelled the end of project Mozart.
Now what? I end up with lots of cookie crumbs. Delicious crumbs I must add. Call me unimaginative, the only way I could think of to effectively utilize these crumbs would be making cheesecake. Or cheesecakes. So I turn to my favorite cheesecake book for the time being for inspiration.
I settle for the Cappuccino little fellas in the end, because I love any baked goods with coffee in it. Making little fellas which are basically mini cheesecakes make sense, because they are handy to share with friends as opposed to one big cake which I will inadvertently carve out a bigger piece for myself before cutting it for others. By making it into muffin cup size, this possibility could be eliminated.
The original recipe is one without the cookie base, but not wanting to waste my delicious crumbs, I simply fill each muffin liners with one heaping tablespoon of crumbs and press it lightly into place, just like one would for a classic cheesecake base. The cookie bases are then baked in a preheated 350F oven for 5-7 minutes until they looked dry and golden in color. I used lesser cheesecake filling in each molds, and came up with a total of 17 little fellas.
Of course you can follow the original recipe sans crust, you should be able to get 12 to 13 little fellas with more fillings than mine. As you may have guessed, both versions are equally delicious, and would stand in nicely in place of the real McCoy after a meal. In fact the recipe could easily be doubled and kept in the freezer for any dessert emergency. According to the author, the little fellas freeze exceptionally well. I have yet to try that out myself.
Cappuccino Little Fellas
adapted from Junior's Cheesecake Cookbook: 50 To-Die-For Recipes for New York-Style Cheesecake (Juniors)
1 tablespoon instant freeze-dried espresso or instand coffee or instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon hot water (I need 1.5 tablespoons)
two 8-ounce packages Philadephia Cream Cheese (the recipe says full fat only but I used 1/3 less fat Neufchtel, without any problem), at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra large eggs (large eggs are fine too)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 350F. (I used 325F) Line 12 standard muffin cups with silicone, foil, parchment, or paper liners.Dissolve the instant espresso in the hot water in a small cup and let stand.
Put one package of cream cheese, 1/3 cup of sugar, and the cornstarch in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl a few times. Blend in the remaining cream cheese and 1/3 cup sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one.Stir the dissolved coffee into the cream and beat in the cream just until it's completely blended. Be careful not to be overmix.
Divide the batter among the 12 muffin cups. Place the muffin tin in a large shallow pan and add hot water until it comes about 1 inch up the sides of the tin. Bake the cakes until set and slightly puffy, about 30-45 minutes, depending on how hot your oven is. Remove the cakes from the water bath, transfer the tin to a wire rack, and let cool for 2 hours.*Transfer the cake to a container and chill for at least 4 hours.
*note: instruction from the book: After 2 hours of cooling, cover cake with plastic wrap (do not remove from the tin) and put in the freezer until cold, at least one day.
To remove the cakes, lift them out with your hands and peel off the liner. Although I find it more convenient to hold and eat it with the liner on. For a dressier version, place the cakes, top side up, on a serving platter or individual dessert plates, Top with chocolate curls and dust with a little cocoa if you wish and refrigerate. If there are any cakes left, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator or wrap and freeze for up to 1 month.