Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Samoas Cheesecake Bites
People tend to have very strong opinions about which Girl Scout cookie variety is the best. I've heard that Thin Mints are the best selling variety year after year. I can certainly see why. It's chocolate. It's peppermint. It's delicious. It's very refreshing. Kudos to those that get the Seinfeld Junior Mint reference; those that don't, well thanks for making me feel old. Anyway, Thin Mints are definitely one of my favorites, but they don't hold the top spot on my list. No, that spot is reserved for Samoas (or Caramel Delites, depending on your geographic location).
Samoas represent everything that is good in the world: chocolate, caramel, and toasted coconut all nestled together on a shortbread cookie. I'm pretty sure I could easily polish off an entire box (or maybe three) in one sitting. This year I exercised a little self-restraint and didn't immediately inhale the two boxes I ordered from a friend's daughter. Instead, I used about half of a box to make these cheesecake bites. Because, apparently, I like to turn things into cheesecake (exhibits A, B, C, D, and E). I'm actually kind of obsessed with creating new cheesecake flavors, or at least tweaking old ones. I hope you don't mind.
When I was initially struck with the idea of making Samoas cheesecake bites, I knew I didn't want to just make a plain cheesecake with some Samoas thrown in and call it a day. No way. I wanted to make mini cheesecakes that actually looked like Samoas. I started by making a shortbread cookie crumb crust, then I topped that with a Samoas laced cheesecake filling. Once the filling was baked and cooled, I spread a mixture of caramel and toasted coconut on top, then I dipped the bases in melted dark chocolate, and finally drizzled melted chocolate over the top. The results absolutely exceeded my wildest expectations. These were amazing. I would venture to say these are my favorite cheesecake creation ever (so far, at least). Coming from me, that is saying a lot. Seriously, if you still have a box of Samoas at your house, make these. You can thank me later.
Samoas Cheesecake Bites
yield: 9 mini cheesecakes
4 ounces shortbread cookies, finely crushed (I used these; feel free to use Trefoils or other purchased shortbreads)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the wells of a mini-cheesecake pan with non-stick spray.
2. Toss together cookie crumbs and sugar. Stir in melted butter. Press approximately one tablespoon of crumbs into nine of the wells in the cheesecake pan.
3. Bake crust for approximately 10 minutes, or just until it begins to brown.
4. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 Samoas cookies, roughly chopped
1. Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees. Beat cream cheese and sugar together on medium until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl and beater blades periodically.
2. Lower mixer speed to low and mix egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Continue to mix until smooth. (Helpful hint: if your cheesecake batter is lumpy, your ingredients were probably too cold. To remedy this, I use my immersion blender to smooth out the batter).
3. Stir in the chopped cookies. Pour batter over crust, filling to within a 1/2 inch of the top of each well. Bake at 300 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until just set. Turn oven off and slightly crack door. Allow cheesecakes to cool in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
Topping (and Bottom) - adapted from Baking Bites
1 cup shredded coconut
4 ounces chewy caramels
1 tablespoon milk or cream
Pinch of salt
3 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Spread coconut over a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees, stirring every 5 minutes, until toasted. Keep a very close watch when the coconut begins to brown, as it can go from nicely toasted to burned very quickly.
2. Melt together caramels, milk, and salt either over a double boiler or in the microwave on high for 3-4 minutes. Stir periodically while heating. (I used some leftover homemade salted caramel sauce that I had in the fridge in place of the caramels and milk.) Once the mixture is smooth, stir in toasted coconut.
3. Spread about 2 teaspoons of the coconut-caramel topping over each cheesecake, and allow to set for a few minutes.
4. In the meantime, melt chocolate in 30 second intervals in the microwave on medium heat, stirring after each interval. Carefully dip the bottom of each cheesecake into the chocolate and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
5. Once all cheesecake bottoms have been dipped, transfer remaining chocolate to a zip-lock bag with a very small corner snipped off. Drizzle chocolate over coconut-caramel topping. Place cookies in the refrigerator until chocolate covered bottoms have set. Enjoy.
Linked to: Make it Cute, Creative Me, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tea Party Tuesday, Trick or Treat Tuesday, Midweek Fiesta, Mrs. Fox's Sweet Party, What I Whipped Up Wednesday, It's A Keeper Thursday, Ingredient Spotlight