Sunday, July 04, 2010

Buttermilk Cheesecake Tarts

Since it is officially birthday month around here there is definitely some baking going on.  With two July birthday girls we kick off the month on the 1st and tend to drag it out as long as possible!  Friday night we went out to dinner to celebrate Hallie's 19th birthday - to the Cheesecake Factory.  So why would I bake cheesecake if we were going to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner?  Well for one, everyone is too full right after dinner to even think about a monstrous slice of their cheesecake - even a sharing slice.  And two - I like doing the whole presents and cake thing at home.

But the real reason I made cheesecake even though we were going to Cheesecake Factory - when I went to the store on Thursday to buy ingredients for my other recent baking endeavor I made a careful list of what I needed - and left it on the counter at home.  I did pretty well getting what I needed, but for some reason I also thought I needed cream cheese.  And since I couldn't remember how much I needed I bought two packages - you know, just to be on the safe side.  Well as it turns out I didn't need it.  So...I looked online until I found a recipe that would work with what I had on hand.  I modified it quite a bit but this is the recipe I worked from and this is what I came up with:

Buttermilk Cheesecake Tarts

1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup sugar
3 8oz packages Neufchatel cream cheese*
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs
berries for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt 1/2 cup butter.  Add cracker crumbs, mix thoroughly.  Using 8 individual tart pans, put 1/4 cup of crumb mixture into each pan and press into the bottom and up the sides of the pan.  Bake for 5 minutes on a cookie sheet, remove from oven and set aside.
Cream remaining butter and 1 cup sugar with cream cheese until smooth.  Add buttermilk and vanilla and beat until well mixed.  Add eggs and beat slowly until combined.  Do not overbeat.
Pour batter into tart pans (I used probably about 1/2 cup of batter for each tart and had leftovers). 
 Bake for 20 minutes.  I cooled these for several hours in my other oven.  I just put the pan in there and let them sit for  3 to 4 hours and then put them in the refrigerator to chill.
*I actually used 2 packages Neufchatel and 1 8 oz tub of soft cream cheese because that's what I had on hand.  I know they don't recommend baking with the tub cream cheese but it worked fine.

I had some leftover batter so I used some cupcake liners and a cupcake tin to make some more mini cheesecakes.  I put a gingersnap in the bottom of the liner and filled with the batter (I got 8 of these from the leftover batter).  I baked these a little longer - probably 25 minutes.  I wasn't paying close attention to these and they did crack and sink a little bit but it made a perfect dip for fruit!  You could make more graham cracker crust and get a couple more tarts out of it.  This was all an experiment so I didn't know what I would end up with!

We all loved these tarts.  Not nearly as sweet as a restaurant cheesecake but still decadent enough to feel a wee bit guilty.  A really good vegan cheesecake can be found here.

Happy 4th of July!

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