Featured Ingredient: Almonds
Woo hoo, I finally turned in the manuscript for my cookbook on Friday. After 4 1/2 months of slaving away in the kitchen, I think I’ve got a pretty good batch of muffin tin inspired recipes. I developed the recipe for these cheesecake bites molded in mini muffin cups with the book in mind, but they didn’t quite fit into any of the chapters. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t truly wonderful.
I would think you could serve these at a holiday party and receive much approbation. The almond base adds a really nice textural contrast to the cream cheese topping. It doesn’t hurt that almonds rock in the nutritional department, thanks to impressive amounts of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and the antioxidant vitamin E. Hemp seeds offer an extra dose of supercharged fats.
You could flavor the chocolate with some chili powder, peppermint extract, coffee extract, or warming spices like cinnamon. The chocolate could even be omitted and just serve as mini cheesecakes. I would not use a darker sugar like palm for the cheesecake topping as you want it to be nice and white for presentation purposes. If not using flexible silicon muffin cups, it’s probably best to use paper liners for these.
Chocolate Covered Cheesecake Bites
1 cup almonds, roughly chopped
1 1/3 cup quick cook oats (not instant)
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar or brown sugar
1/3 cup hemp hearts (seeds), such as Manitoba Harvest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup lightly colored natural cane sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons reduced fat sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
Fleur de Sel (optional)
In a dry skillet, toast almonds over medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Stir often to prevent burning. Let almonds cool and then add to a bowl of a food processor along with oats, sugar, hemp hearts, salt, and butter. Process until mixture adheres together. Divide mixture among 24 greased or paper lined mini muffin cups, pressing down to help stick together. The crust should come about half-way up the muffin cups.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixture until smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg, sour cream and vanilla until just mixed in. Divide cream cheese mixture among muffin cups and bake for 15 minutes, or until topping is set. Let cool before unmolding and then cool completely on a wire rack. Place cheesecakes in the freezer and freeze until solid.
Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a pan of lightly simmering water, stirring often. Or microwave chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in 20 to 30 second increments, stirring after each interval until chocolate is melted. One at a time, dip cheesecakes into the melted chocolate and use two forks to turn until fully coated. Let the excess drip off and place on a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet. If desired, sprinkle each with a few grains of Fleur de sel and then place baking sheet in the refrigerator to set chocolate, about 1 hour.