So, the other day I decided to make a bit of a fancier dessert than my usual go-to cookies or bars. Why? Because I was in the mood, and also, we were invited to dinner at some friends of ours who happen to be really, really exquisite cooks. Naturally, I was nervous and wanted to make something super tasty, a little bit different, easy to transport and easy to serve. I also wanted something that involved little to no prep or fussing in the moments prior to serving (in other words, creme brulee and chocolate lava cakes were not options, unless of course the endeavour was to risk a mini-panic attack at our hosts’ house. I mean, let’s face it, nothing makes an evening more enjoyable than your guest having an emotional meltdown in your kitchen. Amiright?).
Back to the recipe. I perused various sites and recipe books, and came to the decision that I would make something “mini” (not sure what, but this was a start in the realm of decision-making). As we were going to be having home-made gourmet wings and pizza for dinner, I thought a smaller yet rich dessert might be a nice way to finish off the meal. I came across this website and ultimately adapted the following recipe: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/11/18/salted-caramel-chocolate-chip-mini-cheesecakes/. And my review, you ask? … If I do say so myself, they turned out super well! I loved how the blogger gave step by step pictures for the caramel sauce – it made the process a lot easier. I have marked my own substitutions with an asterisk (*) and explained the general steps, as well as providing a link to the salted caramel sauce below:
OREO COOKIE CRUST
– 18 whole Oreos (*I used regular, not double-stuffed)
– 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
– 16 oz (448g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature (*I used half and half cream cheese and Oikos greek yogurt cream cheese)
– 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
– 1/4 cup yogurt (*I used full-fat sour-cream)
– 2 large eggs
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (*I used regular sized chips, and milk chocolate as they didn’t have semi-sweet. A travesty of sorts, I know. But they turned out fine.)
– Homemade salted caramel sauce (Here’s the incredible recipe, which I altered by using table cream instead of whipping cream, unsalted butter instead of salted, and a few tsp of kosher salt once the sauce had cooled slightly and thickened a bit (to taste): http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/homemade-salted-caramel-recipe/)
– Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line one 12-count cupcake or muffin pans with 12 liners.
– For the crust: In a food processor, pulse the whole Oreos into fairly fine crumbs (some chunks are yummy, in my opinion!). Stir the cookie crumbs and melted butter together in a medium sized bowl. Press 2 heaping tbsp of mixture into the bottom of each liner. Bake for 5 minutes and allow to slightly cool as you prepare the filling.
– For the filling: In a large bowl using a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium until completely smooth. Add the sugar and yogurt and beat on medium until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on low. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in the vanilla extract and chocolate chips.
Spoon batter into the crusts until nearly full. Bake for 23-25 minutes. The centers of each cheesecake will be slightly soft-looking and that’s fine. Take out of the oven and allow them to cool for an hour at least. You can then transfer them to the fridge and chill (at least 2 hours).
Right before serving, top each cheesecake with salted caramel (and chunks of Oreo or toffee, as I did, for eye appeal. Carnations are not necessary).
My husband says he doesn’t like desserts. He ate 4 of these in a 24 hour period plus a leftover unformed blob of cream-cheese-Oreo-sourcream mixture from the freezer, topped with all the extra salted caramel sauce that remained. He said it was one of the best desserts I’d made, and mentioned it a few times at that. He also said I should make “a giant one” next time (to which I said, “you mean a regular cheesecake?” and further explained that this would mean the crust-filling-sauce ratio would not be the same (e.g. more filling, less Oreo). I think with this additional and very imperative information, he realized that maybe we should just leave the recipe as is. I mean, why mess with perfection? ….. Toot toot!! (I am tooting my own horn, in case you were wondering what that was all about).