Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Strawberry Balsamic Swirl Cheesecake Cups

Although strawberry season here in the Midwest has come and gone, I'm still enjoying the great sales at the grocery store on strawberries. One of my favorite combinations is strawberry and balsamic. I could eat this as a simple dessert on its own or even with a scoop of ice cream. The other night I was indulging in a nice heaping bowl of fresh strawberries splashed with balsamic vinegar. As I enjoyed my treat, I started to think about other ways to enjoy this flavor combination. That's when it hit me to make a strawberry balsamic sauce. Once I made that, it became a question of how I can incorporate this sauce into a dessert. Finally, the idea of swirling this sauce into a decadent cheesecake was born. These Strawberry Balsamic Swirl Cheesecake Cups are addicting with their creamy texture, buttery graham cracker crust and that seductive strawberry balsamic sauce swirled in for good measure...

This month's Moms Crazy Cooking Challenge food blogging event is all about cheesecake. I've been meaning to make a cheesecake ever since my dad came back to visit a month or so ago. I haven't gotten around to it until now. Although making a whole cheesecake makes for a beautiful display, realistically, having small individual cheesecakes are more ideal. For one, it's nice to have it perfectly portioned so not to overindulge. And secondly, it's easy to transport if you bringing this to a potluck or to work for co-workers to enjoy. 

This recipe has been a great one to adapt as gluten free. I've been fortunate to find gluten free graham cracker crumbs which I used, along with a gluten free flour blend for the filling. This cheesecake isn't very dense when made in cupcake form. Instead, it's light and a nice balance of sweetness and a hint of tang from the sour cream used. You can omit the strawberry balsamic sauce all together or even use your preferred jam/jelly or dessert sauce to swirl in. I will say the strawberry balsamic is a really nice flavor to compliment the cheesecake cups that's reminiscent of the ever popular strawberry topping usually served with cheesecake.

Strawberry Balsamic Swirl Cheesecake Cups
recipe adapted from AllRecipes
2 cups graham crackers crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (or gluten free flour blend)
1/2 cup strawberry balsamic sauce - recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line 2 muffin pans with liners (for 24 cheesecake cupcs); set aside
In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs and sugar with melted butter. Place a tablespoon into each muffin liner and press down to form a bottom crust.

In a bowl of a stand mixer, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Add milk and then mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth.

Pour 1/4 cup filling into prepared muffin pan crusts.
Top each with a 1/2 teaspoon of strawberry balsamic reduction and swirl with a toothpick.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Turn the oven off, and let cheesecake cups cool in oven with the door closed for 5 to 6 hours; this prevents cracking.

cheesecake cups in refrigerator until serving.

Strawberry Balsamic Sauce
recipe adapted from Savory Sweet Life

2 cups of chopped strawberries
1 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Combine the strawberries, sugar, and balsamic vinegar in a medium pan on medium high heat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.When the sauce coats back of your spoon, remove from heat and allow to cool.

Using a stick blender, puree the mixture until smooth. Alternately, you can transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth.

Please check out all these delicious cheesecake recipes made by all the food bloggers participating in 'Moms Crazy Cooking Challenge' this month! Don't forget to click on your favorite looking one and cast your vote!