Cheesecake is the dessert I simply cannot stop eating. I love the cold creaminess, and the combination of cream cheese and sugar brings me back to my grandma Sylvia’s dairy noodle kugel, recipe in The Holiday Kosher Baker. Cheesecake is also probably the dessert that my stomach likes least because it is just too heavy. These recipes are an attempt to serve something smaller and lighter than the giant cheese I make every Shavuot.
The Mini Cheesecake Mousse Trifles are an attempt to lighten up a cheesecake dessert and keep the portions small enough to enjoy. I use square shot glasses, but any small bowl will do. My first idea was to use wine glasses, but three of us could barely finish one glass full of cheesecake mousse and purée. Bring them to the table on a tray. Another idea is to create a buffet with the mousse in a bowl and then serve any fruit purée and fresh fruit alongside.
The other recipe, Key Lime Cheesecake Squares, were inspired by a book I found in Paris, France. While traveling in Paris last January, I found a French cookbook from a shop called She’s Cake that serves gorgeous cheesecakes in different shapes, sizes and flavors. The book features purple lavender cheesecake squares. Those gave me the idea for these Shrek/Wicked-colored ones flavored with lime. Both the color and flavor are vibrant and this is a lovely variation to serve for Shavuot. You can also make these yellow lemon-flavored.
Mini Cheesecake Mousse Trifles
Makes 10 mini trifles
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature for 15 minutes
1 cup crème fraiche
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup whipping cream
1 large mango, cubed
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar, or more to taste
1-2 tablespoons water
fresh fruit and cookie crumbs
Preheat oven to 300°F. Trace a 9-inch round pan on parchment paper and cut out the circle. Grease the pan, press in the circle and grease the top and sides of the pan. Set aside.
Place the cream cheese into a mixing bowl and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides. Add the crème fraiche and mix well. Add the sugar and eggs and beat well, stopping to scrape down the sides and bottom so that the mixture is smooth. Scoop into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until set. Let cool and then cover and chill overnight.
Place the whipping cream into a mixing bowl and beat until whipped. Scoop into a small bowl. Use a silicone spatula to scoop the cheese cake into the mixing bowl. Add the whipped cream and beat for one minute at medium speed. Mousse may be made two days in advance.
To make the mango purée, place the mango cubes into a food processor with the confectioners’ sugar and one tablespoon of water and process until completely puréed. Add more water if the mixture is not yet smooth. May be made one day in advance and stored in the fridge.
To assemble, use small cups or shot glasses. You can use a small spoon to scoop the cheesecake mousse into the cups or place the mousse into a pastry bag fitted with a ¼-to ½-inch round tip. Place some mousse into the cup or glass. Pour in the mango purée to make a half to ¾-inch stripe and then add more mousse, as shown. Decorate with fresh fruit and sprinkle crumbs on top and serve. May be made one day in advance.
While traveling in Paris last January, I found a French cookbook from a shop called She’s Cake that serves gorgeous cheesecakes in different shapes, sizes and flavors. The book features purple lavender cheesecake squares. Those gave me the idea for these Shrek/Wicked-colored ones flavored with lime. Both the color and flavor are vibrant and this is a lovely variation to serve for Shavuot. You can also make these yellow lemon-flavored.
One 8-ounce package shortbread cookies
4 tablespoons butter
1 pound cream cheese (not whipped), at room temperature for 30 minutes
3 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (form 2-3 limes)
3 drops lime green food coloring
1 drop green food coloring
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 large egg whites
Preheat oven to 325°F. You will need a 8-inch square baking pan.
Place the shortbread cookies into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until finely ground. Melt the butter. Use a brush to brush the bottom and sides of the pan with some butter and then press in a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom and go up the sides. Brush the top of the parchment. Add the cookie crumbs to the remaining butter and mix. Dump into the prepared pan and press to cover the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
Place the cream cheese into the bowl of a stand mixer or blender and beat on medium-high speed until smooth. Scrape down the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, and scrape down the bowl each time to make sure all the cream cheese and eggs are being mixed together. Add the sugar, lime zest and juice, and mix on medium speed until combined. Make sure to mix the bottom of the bowl to ensure the mixture is entirely smooth and scrape off any zest that sticks to the beater.
Pour the cheesecake batter on top of the crust. Bake for 45 minutes or until set. Let cool. Place in the fridge for five hours or overnight.
To make the meringue topping: In a small heavy saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Continue to cook the sugar until it reaches 230ºF on a candy thermometer. You can dip a pastry brush in water and wipe down any sugar crystals that appear on the sides of the saucepan.
While the sugar is cooking, in a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff. When the sugar is ready, turn the mixer speed to low and then slowly pour the cooked sugar into the whites, down the side of the bowl, not directly onto the wire whisk. When all of the sugar has been poured in, turn the mixer up to medium-high and beat for one minute.
To serve, you can cut into squares and then decorate with the meringue, or decorate and then slice, as you wish. To make the dots as shown, place the meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a ¼-inch tip. Squeeze out lines or swirls. You may also scoop the meringue on top of the whole cheesecake and then slice to serve.