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Mini Cheesecakes with Wine Gelées
© Anna Williams

Mini Cheesecakes with Wine Gelées

  • ACTIVE: 30 MIN
  • TOTAL TIME: 1 HR plus chilling
  • SERVINGS: makes four 3-inch cakes
  • MAKE-AHEAD
  • STAFF-FAVORITE

Kate Zuckerman, pastry chef at Manhattan's Chanterelle and author of the new book, The Sweet Life, thinks most cheesecakes are too heavy and sweet. Her recipe uses goat cheese to lighten the texture and tangy crème fraîche to cut the sweetness. Here, she tops mini cheescakes with wine gelées—a new kind of wine-and-cheese-pairing.

Cheesecakes

  1. 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for brushing
  2. 7 whole graham crackers
  3. 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  4. 1 large egg
  5. 1 large egg yolk
  6. Pinch of salt
  7. One 10 1/2-ounce log of fresh goat cheese, softened
  8. 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons crème fraîche (5 ounces)

Wine Gelées

  1. 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  2. 2 1/2 tablespoons cold water
  3. 3 tablespoons each of orange Muscat, rosé, Pinot Noir and tawny port
  4. 4 teaspoons sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut out four 3-inch rounds of shirt cardboard. Brush the insides of four 3-inch-round and 2 1/2-inch-deep ring molds with butter. In a food processor, grind the crackers with the melted butter and 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Set the molds on the baking sheet and line the bottoms with the cardboard rounds, trimming to fit. Pack the crumbs into the molds; press to compact. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg, egg yolk, salt and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the goat cheese and beat until smooth. Fold in the crème fraîche. Spoon the mixture into the molds and smooth the tops. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the cheesecakes are just set but not browned. Let the cheesecakes cool, then refrigerate them until chilled, at least 1 hour.
  3. Heat a sharp, thin-bladed knife under hot water; dry the knife. Carefully run the blade around the edge of each cheesecake. Pressing up on the cardboard, ease the cheesecakes out of the molds; return to the baking sheet. Cut four 11-by-2 1/2-inch strips of parchment paper. Wrap the paper around the perimeter of each cheesecake to form a collar that extends 1 inch above the surface; secure with tape.
  4. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let soften. Microwave at high power for about 15 seconds or just until the gelatin is melted. Put the 4 wines in separate ramekins. Add 2 teaspoons of the sugar to the rosé and to the Pinot Noir and microwave for 20 seconds; stir to dissolve the sugar. Stir 1 teaspoon of the melted gelatin into each of the 4 wines. Let the wines stand until cooled, about 10 minutes. Pour one of the wine gelées over each cheesecake and refrigerate until chilled and set, about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the parchment-paper collar from each cheesecake. Carefully remove the cardboard bottoms and serve.
Notes Variation To make one 6-inch cheesecake: Butter a 6-inch springform pan and wrap the outside in foil. Press the graham cracker crumbs evenly over the bottom and bake for 10 minutes. Set the springform pan inside a small roasting pan and fill with the cheesecake mixture. Add enough hot water to reach halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the cheesecake is firm and set. Remove from the water bath and let cool on a rack. Remove the foil and refrigerate until chilled. Unmold the cheesecake and wrap it in a parchment-paper collar that extends 1 inch above the surface; secure with tape. Pour 1/2 cup of one of the wines into a bowl; if using rosé or Pinot Noir, add 1 tablespoon of sugar. Microwave at high power for about 30 seconds, or until the sugar is dissolved. In a small bowl, sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons of gelatin over 1 1/2 tablespoons of water and let soften. Heat at high power for 15 seconds, or until the gelatin is melted. Add it to the wine and let stand until slightly thickened but not set, about 10 minutes. Pour the wine gelée over the cheesecake and refrigerate for about 1 hour, or until set. Remove the paper collar before serving.
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