‘Tis the season to party, and this is a big weekend for me, a tea, an open house, a dance, and a concert reception. Ideally, I would contribute “finger food” to the refreshments at three of the events, so I’m trying to kill four birds with one stone, because, as you know, I am essentially lazy.
One of the invitations requests that “If your name starts with A-M, please bring a savory treat; if it starts with N-Z, please bring a sweet. Hmmm…Is it acceptable to choose the category you want to provide by either your first or last name? Or does it just have to be your last name? In my case, it doesn’t matter, because both my first and last names fall in the “sweet” category. Ok, what to make…what to make…
Generally, I don’t bake cookies or even cupcakes, if I can get away with it. (See next Friday’s post for my lame excuses.) For instance, I wouldn’t participate in your PTA’s cookie exchange or your neighborhood’s cookie walk (I saw that on a sign, recently, and have no idea what that entails).
In the olden days, the Veterinarian and I used to throw huge parties at the drop of a hat. New Year’s Day? Open house for 75-100. Cast party? Buffet for 30 from 11pm to 4 am (and sometimes breakfast for those we forced to spend the night on our sofa). We always had a dozen recipes that people expected to find on our table, with my Amaretto Cheesecake at the top of the list.
Since I live alone and don’t entertain any longer (in my home, I mean; I’m still entertaining on stage and internet, right?), I haven’t made an Amaretto Cheesecake in at least five years. But that’s not finger food, is it? Or, is it? I’ve made it in 6″ versions to give as gifts, but, can I turn it into a mini-dessert?
Fast forward 10 hours
Well, I made them last night, and they were pretty good for breakfast this morning with a double espresso, so I think I’ll spread a little holiday cheer today!
Amaretto Cheesecake – yields 12 slices or 24 individual cheesecakes
For one large cake, use a 9-1/2″ springform pan.
For mini-cakes, line regular-sized cupcake tins with cupcake papers. (This is a great way to use up odds and ends of holiday cupcake papers, because they will be discarded before serving.)
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs, finely ground (I use the food processor.)
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup melted butter
In a large bowl, thoroughly toss together the crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon. Stir in the melted butter.
For one cake: press mixture into the bottom and 1/2″ up the sides of the springform pan.
For mini-cakes: drop two teaspoonfuls of the mixture into the bottom of each paper and press only into the bottom.
Chill prepared crust in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
To bake, preheat oven to 375.
24 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup Amaretto liqueur
In bowl of mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in the sugar, thoroughly, scraping the bowl and beaters. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the Amaretto. Pour into prepared springform pan, or spoon 2 Tablespoons of batter into each cupcake liner.
Bake one large cake for 45-50 minutes. Bake mini-cakes for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Centers will fall and possibly crack. Not to worry! Raise oven to 425.
For one large cake:
1 cup sour cream
1-1/2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon Amaretto liqueur
2 cups sour cream
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
Spoon topping into the fallen center of the cakes and smooth with a knife or spatula. Return to hot oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Immediately garnish with chopped, toasted almonds. Cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours.
Just before serving, run a heated knife between the crust and the rim of the springform pan. (To heat the knife, run it under hot tap water and quickly dry with a clean towel.)
For mini-cakes, remove the cupcake paper. This works best if the cakes are very cold, because the fat in the butter and cream cheese sticks less to the paper when it is cold.
Garnish the cakes with either shaved dark chocolate or mini-dark chocolate chips.