Several years ago I took an 8 month cooking course from a local chef, Neil Stuart. Neil was sort of a legend in San Diego having worked at the Quilted Giraffe in New York and then heading up Pacifica Del Mar here in SD before moving on to Hells Kitchen, Stuarts, and finally Terra. The last I heard from Neil he was in New Mexico working at a Hotel and Spa resort. At any rate he was a fantastic chef and teacher and his course ran the gamut from basic knife skills to shopping to menu planning, boning fish, fileting meat and chicken and every course in between. One of the first things Neil told us about was a baking contest he entered when he was still in culinary school and he won the competition. His entry was something called Cheesecake in a glass. It was one of those no bake cheesecakes, to me it always seemed more of a mousse-like pudding and it was served in a wine glass. A very no muss-no fuss type dessert. He gave us the recipe and I made it almost weekly for a long time. There was something very comforting about it yet still something elegant. I think I was more enamored of it than anyone else but I really did like it and this recipe reminded me about it enough that I dug it out and made it again. To be honest, I liked it better than these baby cheesecakes.
Don’t get me wrong, I thought these cheesecakes were perfectly fine but I really found that they tasted too much of sour cream and I really find all the fussing with these mini things to be all too tedious for something that tasted to me like a Jello no bake cheesecake mix. I would have much preferred to just make one large regular lemon cheesecake and be done with it than all this playing around with these muffin pans and cutting out cake rounds and popping things out of these molds. Just my opinion mind you. I guess you were all wondering when it was going to happen since I haven’t been finding much wrong with these recipes lately. (I didn’t really find anything wrong here, I just don’t happen to like these.) I was actually beginning to frighten myself, thinking I was getting soft in my old age but this recipe proved that I am still an ornery old cuss. Okay, lets get to making these cakes.
First, I almost screwed up big time when I first read the recipe as I completely missed the part about making the sponge cake. I went right to the ingredients list as that is how all the other recipes in the book have been. I got out all the ingredients and had my mis-en-place all ready and I get to the step where is says to line the molds with the cake rounds and I did a double take, thinking , where did this cake come from. I reread the recipe and found it at the top before the ingredients list. I normally assume that when one recipe calls for another it would show up in the ingredients list. Let that be a lesson to you, never assume anything.
The sponge cake is very easy and actually quite delicious. Cake flour and cornstarch are sifted and combined in a bowl and then whisked. Whole eggs and egg yolks and sugar are whipped until tripled in volume. Then vanilla is added. The flour-cornstarch mixture is sifted onto the eggs in two additions and folded in. Next, egg whites are whipped into a stiff merinque and folded into the egg mixture. The batter is poured into a parchment lined jelly roll pan and baked. Mine was done in 5 minutes at 400 degrees in my convection oven.
To make the filling, cream cheese and sugar are beaten until creamy, then eggs and egg yolks are beaten in, followed by lemon juice and salt and finally sour cream. The molds are lined with a round of the sponge cake and then the batter is poured over the cake rounds. The molds are placed in a bain marie and baked until they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Mine were done after 20 minutes at 325 degrees convection. The baked cakes are allowed to cool, then covered with plastic wrap and chilled for at least an hour.
Meanwhile, make the lemon curd. Egg yolks, sugar and butter are whisked until well blended. Then lemon juice and salt are whisked in and the mixture is cooked until it is thick and coats the back of a spatula. The curd is then strained into bowl.
The curd is poured onto the chilled cakes and then the cakes are unmolded onto serving plates. Nothing terribly difficult here but more work than I like to do for something that pales in comparison to a regular full cream cheese lemon cheesecake. Don’t take my word for it. Try these little babies yourself and you be the judge.
Next Up: Bernachon Palet d’Or Gateau