Personal cheesecakes for two
These cupcake-sized no-bake cheesecakes are a special treat for two. They're tangy and creamy – and they're just enough.
While I'm perfectly happy to make a full-sized cheesecake, doing it when there are just two of us is either wasteful or asking for waistline-ballooning trouble. However, that doesn't mean that the cheesecake experience needs to be out of reach. My solution is to make these cupcake-sized versions, set in paper cupcake patty pans, and make just two. They're a treat – to be clear, they're outrageously rich and the only health benefit they provide is mental – and I don't make them very often, but when the need arises, I have my recipe to fall back on.
For the biscuit base you can use any plain biscuits, though I have some local suggestions. In Australia, Granita biscuits are easiest to find and produce a superb cheesecake crust; in the UK, McVitie's digestives are wonderful; in the US, follow tradition and go with graham crackers.
It's important that the cream cheese and the butter are very soft before you start making these, so take both out of the fridge well before you start, a couple of hours at least.
As a token nod towards healthiness, and it really is just symbolic, I serve these topped with fruit. Any seasonal fruit is good - blueberries, bananas, passionfruit, kiwi – although I have a penchant for diced strawberries macerated in a little balsamic vinegar, which helps to cut the overwhelming creamy sweetness of the cheesecake. If you haven’t discovered this odd-sounding but completely addictive combination of flavours, now is the time.
If you have the patience for some fiddly work and a desire to instantly enter the culinary Hall of Fame, you can also turn this recipe into a couple of dozen petit fours using a piping bag and those tiny, tablespoon-sized paper cases. Yes, that's right: cheesecake poppers. I made them years ago for an afternoon tea at work and people still talk to me about them with a wistful note in their voice, a nostalgia for little cheesecakes past.
Personal cheesecakes for two
50g (2 oz) sweet biscuits
25g (1 oz) soft butter
100g (4 oz) cream cheese
80ml (⅓ cup) cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
Line two muffin tins with paper cupcake patty pans.
To make the base, you can either pulverise the biscuits and butter together in a processor or just slip the biscuits into a plastic bag and smash them up with a rolling pin or a tin can and mix the crumbs with the butter in a small bowl.
Divide between the two cupcake patty pans, spreading and levelling out with the back of a spoon. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set.
For the filling, dissolve the sugar in the lemon juice first, then stir in all the remaining ingredients until well combined. If the cream cheese is well and truly softened, you can simply use a wooden spoon; if there is any resistance left in it, an electric beater will knock it out very quickly.
Taste and fine-tune the sugar-lemon balance to your liking, then spoon the filling over the bases.
Return to the fridge for at least an hour, where they will set properly, although they'll keep quite happily overnight. I can't tell you if they keep longer than that because it's never, ever happened in my kitchen.