I love cheese cake... All kinds of cheese cake. The light and airy ones to the heavy dense ones. I don't complain. We love doing these petite ones for our dinner parties. They are the perfect size and are small enough that you can justify having a dessert tasting menu with 2-3 different types of mini desserts. Chessa makes some awesome bruleed mini cheese cakes. You'll have to try them.
This one is a lemon cheese cake made with the zest of three lemons. I love meyer lemons the best, but if they are not in season, any smoothed skinned lemon will do. We have two mini-cheese cake pans so we can knock out 24 of these babies at one time. If you don't have a mini cheese cake pan, a regular spring form pan will do just fine.
1 pound regular cream cheese
3 meyer lemons, washed and dried
1/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (7 or 8 whole crackers)
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Remove the zest from the lemons with a zester and put the zest in a small saucepan. Add the cream to the zest and heat just until the cream starts to bubble. Watch the pan carefully, since cream goes from bubbling to overflowing in a split second. Remove the pan from the heat,cover it, and let the zest steep for about an hour. In the meantime, prepare the cheesecake's crust.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
Stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and salt. Stir in the butter until the mixture is uniformly moistened. With the bottom of a small glass, press the crumbs into the bottom of each well of the mini cheese cake pan. Bake the crust for 4 to 8 minutes, until it is barely browned at the edges. Let it cool.
When the zest/cream mixture has steeped for about an hour pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees F.
Using a kitchenaid with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at low speed until smooth. Add the sugar and continue beating until smooth, scraping down the bowl regularly.
Increase the speed to medium-high and add the eggs one at a time. Then beat in the flour. Finally, strain the lemon zest cream and add the cream, beating until the mixture is smooth and uniform.
Pour the batter into each of the prepared crusts. Place the pan on a baking sheet to catch any leaks, and bake the cheesecake for 8-10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 200 degrees F and bake the cheesecake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until it is light brown on top, cracked, and just barely set in the center. (check the timing at it varies with a larger cake)
Cool the cheesecake on a rack and let "age" overnight to allow the flavor to develop.