Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mini Peppermint and Chocolate Chip Cheesecakes

These bite-sized desserts are adorable, and perfect for your next holiday party, since no utensils or plates are required. Full disclosure: I bought a mini muffin pan 2 years ago because I thought it was so darn cute, but this is the first time I'm using it.

For the crust:
  • 1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs*
  • 2 tablespoons vegan sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted vegan butter
  • Cooking spray
For the filling:
  • 12 hard peppermint candies (such as Yummy Earth), divided**
  • 2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup Tofutti cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup vegan sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 Ener-G eggs
  • 1 cup vegan sour cream
  • 1/4 cup chocolate minichips (such as Enjoy Life)
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 cup whipped Soyatoo whippable topping***
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate sprinkles (such as Edward & Sons)
1. To prepare the crust, combine the cookie crumbs, 2 tablespoons sugar, and butter in a bowl.  Press about 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of the mixture into the bottom of each of 48 mini muffin cups coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 325 degrees for 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: combine 6 peppermint candies, the cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, the flour, eggs, and sour cream in a food processor and process until smooth.  Stir in the chocolate minichips and peppermint extract.  Divide the filling evenly over the prepared crusts.

Note: It's helpful to use an ice cream scoop, both to measure out the batter evenly and to get it into the muffin cups cleanly. It will work out to about one-third of a standard-size ice cream scoop per cheesecake.

3. Bake at 325 degrees for 12 minutes; the cheesecakes should be just set.  Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes.  Remove from the pans and cool completely. Although I worried that the cheesecake batter would stick to the pans, these actually came out quite cleanly.

4. Top each mini cheesecake with 1 teaspoon whipped topping.

5. Crush the remaining 6 peppermint candies (a meat mallet works well) and sprinkle evenly over the tops of the cheesecakes, along with the chocolate sprinkles.

*Any vegan chocolate cookies will do, but I find that the best cookies to turn into crumbs are the chocolate alphabet cookies from Newman's Own Organics.  Use about 55 cookies to make 1 cup crumbs.

**Yes, vegan hard peppermint candies exist, from the great company Yummy Earth (which also makes fantastic lollipops). You'll get wonderfully strong, fresh peppermint flavor, although not the red and white color of traditional peppermint candies (see below). If you want a touch of color on top, consider crushing a vegan candy cane.

***Make sure to buy Soyatoo's whippable topping in a box, not their rice whip or soy whip in a can. Beat with a hand mixer for 3 to 4 minutes, and you'll have a thick, rich whipped cream that will hold its shape long after you top these li'l cheesecakes. 

Nutrition Info:
48 servings (1 cheesecake), Calories 54 

Tasting Notes:
Eat these in one bite for the full effect - just the right touch of peppermint, tasty chocolate, and a tangy cheesecake filling.  The disappointing element here was the crust, which tasted dry and stayed quite crumbly even after baking. Use an extra tablespoon of butter and it should set better.  The chocolate mini chips were a nice crunch in the creamy cheesecake.  As a bonus, these tasted even better chilled, so feel free to make ahead.


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