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Frozen Mini Cheesecakes

I usually make Carrot Cake every Easter, but with it being my absolute favorite cake I knew there was no way I could resist it. So, instead, I made frozen mini cheesecakes for my family’s Easter dessert. I’m told that they were melt-in-your-mouth good. Definitely a recipe that has made it on my repeat list. By the way, I’ve lost twenty-five pounds so far on the diet. It’s been rough at times, but it’s definitely worth it just to be able to fit into clothes that I haven’t worn in a couple of years.

Anyways, here’s the recipe for the mini cheesecakes. I originally wanted to top them with raspberry sauce, but our small town grocery store only had strawberries. They still turned out well, though.

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/3 c very finely chopped pecans
4 Tbsp butter, melted
2 Tbsp granulated sugar

1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
3/4 of a 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 c fresh whipped cream (plus a little extra to top the cheesecakes with)

1 lb fresh strawberries (reserve a few strawberries for garnish), sliced
Granulated sugar*
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
* Use as much or as little sugar as you want depending on the sweetness of the berries. I used about 3 or 4 tablespoons. 

Making the Crust:
1) Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners (this recipe made 16 mini cheesecakes in all). In a medium sized bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, very finely chopped pecans (I used a mini blender to chop them), and granulated sugar. Then stir in the melted butter.

2) Place about two spoonfuls of the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Using your fingers or the bottom of a drinking glass, press the crumbs into the bottom and sides to form a crust.

Making the Filling:
1) In a large bowl mix together the softened cream cheese, about 3/4 of the can of sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract, and the powdered sugar. Then, fold in one cup of the fresh whipped cream.

Folding in the whipped cream.

2) Fill each of the cupcake liners with the filling.

3) Place in the freezer for at least five hours. The ones I made were left in the freezer overnight.

Making the Sauce:
1) I used a mini blender to puree almost all of the strawberries. Reserve a few strawberries to use as a garnish for the cheesecakes.

2) In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the strawberry puree, granulated sugar, and apple cider vinegar. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Then, remove it from the heat and store in the refrigerator until needed.

Assembling the Cheesecakes:
1) Carefully peel the cupcake liner from each cheesecake. Then drizzle a little strawberry sauce on top of each cake, place a dollop of whipped cream on top of that, and garnish with a halved strawberry.

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Lemon Cheese Cake

Contrary to its name, there is no cheese in this old-fashioned Southern recipe. I’ve heard that the name comes from the fact that this cake resembles a big wheel of cheese. From what I know of her, my great grandmother was a wonderful cook and made the best homemade cakes (and one of those was lemon cheese cake). She passed on well before I came along, and although many of her recipes were passed down to my grandmother (and then on to me), lemon cheese cake was not of them. A few years ago, a cousin’s request for this easy, but delicious cake led me on a little search for a recipe that would taste similar and this is the result.

This isn’t necessarily the prettiest cake, mostly because the frosting is a little thinner than most. However, it’s delicious, especially if your like me and prefer sweets with a little tartness.

The Ingredients:
The Cake:
1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
2 1/4 c sugar
3 1/2 c cake flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt*
1 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
6 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks
*I use kosher salt.

The Frosting:
9 egg yolks
1 1/2 c sugar
3 sticks of butter
Juice of 4-5 lemons
Zest from 2 of those lemons

1) Preheat oven to 375F.

2) In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, then set it aside. You can also sift the flour combination, too, if you want.

3) In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together, then mix in the vanilla.

4) Add the flour mixture and milk alternately, mixing well after each addition.

The batter after the egg whites have been folded in.

5) Add the egg whites and fold them in.

6) Bake in three prepared 8 inch cake pans for about 30-35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

The Frosting:

The frosting right after coming off the stove.

1) Mix all of the ingredients together and cook in a double boiler until the mixture thickens (takes about 25 minutes or slightly longer). Make sure to stir constantly. Allow the frosting to cool before frosting the cake (it will thicken even more after cooling off).

2) Once the cake and frosting have cooled, spread the frosting in between the layers and on the outside of the cake. Since the frosting is thin, you’ll most likely still be able to see the cake through it, especially on the sides.


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Balsamic Strawberries and Ice Cream

This is one of our very favorite desserts. The first time I made it, everyone was a little skeptical of vinegar and ice cream, but they love it now.

The Ingredients:
1 lb of strawberries, washed & sliced
2/3 c balsamic vinegar (you can really do as much or as little vinegar as you want, but we like a lot of it)
1/4 c granulated sugar
and last, but not least, ice cream (we love it on vanilla)

1) Wash and slice the strawberries (cut the large ones in half).

2) In a saute pan combine the balsamic vinegar and sugar over medium heat. Allow it to simmer until the mixture slightly thickens.

3) Add the strawberries and allow it to simmer another minute before you remove it from the heat.

4) Serve it warm over ice cream and enjoy!