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Cheesecake Timbales

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

One of my favorite forms of culinary creativity is to give a classic dessert a fresh new personality. Here, miniature cheesecakes take on decidedly dramatic dimensions. Their statuesque shapes are a cinch to create, with timbale molds doing all the work for you. Of course, you can also bake the creamy little cakes in muffin pans or custard cups with equally delicious (and attractive) results.

10 servings

Cooking Methodbaking

CostInexpensive

Total Timehalf-day

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionBuffet, Formal Dinner Party

Recipe Coursedessert

Dietary Considerationpeanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian

Equipmentelectric mixer

Mealdinner

Moodfestive

Taste and Texturecheesy, creamy, fruity, sweet

Type of Dishdessert

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, or nonstick spray
  • ½ cup (2 ounces/55 grams) fine graham cracker crumbs
  • 1¼ pounds (two 8-ounce/225-gram packages plus 2 ounces/55 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon (5¾ ounces/165 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (5 ounces/140 grams) strawberries, hulled
  • 1 kiwifruit, peeled
  • 1 small ripe mango, peeled and pitted
  • 1 small, firm but ripe nectarine, halved and pitted, or 2 spears pineapple, preferably golden variety
  • 10 sprigs fresh mint

Instructions

  1. Before baking:

  2. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter ten ½-cup round aluminum timbale molds, each 2 1/8 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep. Or, coat the molds lightly with nonstick spray. Then coat the molds with the graham cracker crumbs, gently tapping out the excess crumbs. Have all of the remaining ingredients at room temperature.

  3. To make the filling:

  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-low speed until smooth, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the speed to low, add the sugar, and beat until blended. Then add the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, mixing after each addition until incorporated. Add the cream and vanilla and continue to beat on low speed until the mixture has the consistency of heavy cream.

  5. To ease pouring, transfer the mixture to a 4-cup measuring cup or pitcher. Pour the filling into the prepared molds, filling them almost to the top. Set the filled molds, not touching, in a shallow roasting pan about 2 inches deep, and pour hot water into the pan to come about two-thirds of the way up the sides of the molds.

  6. Bake the cheesecakes until the tops are pale gold, about 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the molds for about 2 hours to allow time for the cakes to firm slightly.

  7. Line a sturdy storage container with plastic wrap. To unmold the cheesecakes, gently tap the sides of each timbale mold on a counter to loosen the cake, invert the cake onto your palm, and then gently turn the cake right side up and set it in the container. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least a few hours before serving or for up to 2 days.

  8. To make the Fruit Salad:

  9. Finely dice the strawberries, kiwifruit, mango, and nectarine. In a large bowl, toss the fruits to combine.

  10. To serve, center a chilled cheesecake on a plate, and spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of the salad around each cake. Garnish each cake with a mint sprig.

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