Friday, September 22, 2006

Just wanted a little cheesecake....

Cream cheese was on a sale a couple weeks ago, so I bought a few blocks even though I had no idea what I wanted to do with them. Do you ever do that with groceries - buy something just because it is on sale, even though you have no plans to use it right away? Anways... I figured I better start using them, so I started off with some individual cheesecakes.

Since I was just playing around, I went way easy on the crust for these Individual Mocha-Toffee Crunch Cheesecakes. I took a small round biscuit cutter just slightly smaller than the bottom of my cheesecake pan and pressed it though some chocolate graham crackers. This made for a quick crust rather than making crumbs and mixing with butter. Flavoring the base of these sweet little cakes is instant espresso powder mixed with hot water and Kahlua. Crunchy bits of toffee cover the top of the light mocha colored batter just before they hit the oven.
As they bake, some of the toffee melts together while the larger bits do remain intact. I liked that even though they puff up in the oven, they slowly cool into a dense, yet creamy, individual smooth cake without a big dip in the center. Next time I will do a proper crust as they are worthy of the extra time!

Let me start off by saying that even though tonight's dinner has a long list of ingredients and there a few steps, it really is pretty simple if you take a little time to prepare most of the ingredients at the same time. In several parts of the recipe it calls for the same item, but you can save some time by chopping it all up at once and then taking what you need when it calls for it. As long as you don't rush the cooking, this version of Spaghetti and Meatballs is filled with a fresh flavor and we both thought it was worth the extra effort.

Once the sauce starts to bubble away, you start on the meatballs by mixing hot Italian turkey sausage with ground sirloin, breadcrumbs, fresh basil, fresh parsley, onions, garlic and an egg. As you form these, keep a small bowl of water handy and wet your hands as you go - this will keep it from sticking to your fingers as you roll them. While the original recipe calls for broiling these to cook them, I opted to create a golden crust on each side in a skillet and then moved them to the sauce to simmer until I was ready to finish dinner. Once the sauce was fairly thick, fresh parsley and basil are mixed in for a final punch of flavor. Just cooked whole-wheat spaghetti is tossed in and a shaving of fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano brings an exquisite sharp finish to this total comfort food dish.


  1. The cheesecakes look yummy! Both my husband and my son love cheesecake and almost ask me to make it every month! I sometimes like to make different ones, but they always ask for their favorite: plain... boring - yours look so much more interesting! hehe!
    Ana! (still thinking about those kit kats!) :o)

  2. You never cease to amaze me, those cheesecakes look amazing!

  3. Ana - I need to make cheesecake more often, it had been awhile!

    Brilynn - Thanks!

  4. Hi Joe, the individual cheesecakes are beautiful - the addition of kahlua sounds wonderful!