POM Cheesecake Minis
I tend more toward the savory than the sweet when I cook, but you can't beat these two words: POM cheesecake.
I wanted to do little mini-bites, and I also wanted to experiment to see if I could incorporate POM pomegranate juice into the cheesecakes themselves instead of just in the sauce. One of the best things about experimenting when cooking is tasting the results!
These would make great appetizers or desserts for a mingling crowd. Since we're right between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it's the time for winter school and office parties, and these little minis would go over pretty nicely.
Our daughter Meta turns three tomorrow. She's already practicing! She asked if I was making a Thomas the Train birthday cake for her. I don't think she'll mind a mini-cheesecake as an early birthday treat.
I started with the crust by breaking up some graham crackers in a mini-processor. I pulsed the processor to break up the crackers, then added brown sugar and melted butter and pulsed to incorporate it into a crumb base that would very slightly clump together.
I made the traditional-style cheesecakes first. One block of Philadelphia cream cheese went into the Kitchen Aid along with 1/4 cup sugar, and a half teaspoon of salt. This was blended for 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides occasionally, until a creamy smoothness emerged.
I added one egg yolk and one whole egg, beaten (Meta helped with the eggs) and continued to beat to incorporate the eggs.
Finally, I added 1/3 cup of heavy cream and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and continued to beat that in to mix everything together.
This step is where the recipes diverged. For the POM cheesecake, I substituted 1/3 cup POM 100% pomegranate juice and 2 tablespoons cream for the 1/3 cup of cream in the traditional cheesecake (see recipes below).
I show these steps now, but in reality, the traditional cheesecake recipe has to be made and poured into the cups, then the POM recipe has to be made all over again and also poured into the cups.
But first, each of the mini cups is buttered, then packed with a small bit (a little over a teaspoon with my mini-cups) of crust and packed into the bottom.
Once the crust was ready, I added the traditional cheesecake into 12 mini cups, then made and poured the POM cheesecake into the remaining 12 mini cups.
I made a water bath in a larger pan, placed the mini cup pan into that, and put everything in a preheated 325 degree oven.
The POM cheesecakes are almost a lavender color
I baked for about 40 minutes, but I kept checking them to see if they had set. Cooking times are a little different with the mini cups. Once cooked, the whole thing has to be chilled completely in the fridge to finish setting.
For the sauce, I added 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar, and 1/2 cup POM 100% pomegranate juice into a pan.
This is basically a simple syrup. I heated slowly until the sugar was completely dissolved, then simmered for a while to reduce by about 1/3rd until it was the consistency I wanted. Simmer longer for a thicker sauce, or add some gelatin (maybe 1/4 of a packet -- not enough to make jello). At the end when it was done cooking, I added the juice of half a lemon for some brightness.
The sauce is bright red and mimics the traditional raspberry sauce in New York style cheesecake.
Cheesecake: (makes approx 12 mini cheesecakes) 8 oz cream cheese 1/4 cup sugar 1 egg yolk 1 whole egg 1/3 cup heavy cream 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp vanilla
POM Cheesecake: (makes approx 12 mini cheesecakes) 8 oz cream cheese 1/4 cup sugar 1 egg yolk 1 whole egg 1/3 cup POM 100% pomegranate juice 2 tbsp heavy cream 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp vanilla
Sauce: 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup granulated sugar 1/2 cup POM 100% pomegranate juice 1/4 packet gelatin (optional)
Deconstruction: Hey, cheesecake. No way around it, this was good. The traditional minis were perfect. Bite-sized cheesecake, nice texture on the crust, and the pomegranate was the perfect substitute for raspberry. The POM cheesecakes were better than I hoped. The texture was a little different...more silky than the denseness of cheesecake, and one of each cheesecake on a plate made a great contrast, visually, texturally, and in taste. We made sure to test the contrast several times.
POM Note: This was our last entry as the 2009 POM Guest Blogger. We had a fantastic time creating and shooting pomegranate recipes this year. It really tested us creatively, and yet it was so much fun to experiment, and especially taste the results. Thanks to everyone who read our posts, and thanks to POM Wonderful for selecting us as the contest winner! We're looking forward to the new year and what the 2010 winner will come up with!
Also, don't forget to check out an interview with me at Foodie Blogroll! Leave a comment, because Jenn and POM Wonderful will be giving away a box of their product each week for the next four weeks!