Choosing my recipe for this week was tough, and I mean seriously, seriously difficult. This is mainly because my love of cheese far exceeds what any normal, rational, health-conscious, Minnesotan girl’s should. But, growing up in the midwest, with Wisconsin right next door…. can you blame me? I will happily eat cheese for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I will take it straight up, melted or with a fruit spread – preferably all of the above. I will take it in a plane, train or bus. You can just call me the Sam-I-Am of cheese, ok?
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, you can imagine why it might be so difficult for me to narrow down my cheese recipes to only one. It was a challenge, but here goes…
Let’s talk cheesecake.
There are so many varieties of cheesecake. You can get it with chocolate or fruit or even peanut butter cups. If you visit a local Cheesecake Factory you’ll soon find out that cheesecake can come in all kinds of flavors (try the banana cream, gah!), but I have to admit, that my go-to at home is a very basic cheesecake recipe which has about six ingredients. Because it’s crust is made with almond flour (I use this Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour) instead of graham crackers, this cheesecake also happens to be gluten free. Now, before you freak out (I’m talking to you, late adapters), trust me when I say that the almond flour adds a gorgeous nuttiness to these cheesecakes that is absolutely addicting. I wouldn’t lie to you. Top these babies off with a little homemade caramel sauce and a sprinkle of sea salt and there you have it, Salted Caramel Almond Cheesecake Bites.
Oh, it should also be said, that I make these “mini” mainly because a) automatic portion control (I need this) and b) they cook waaaayy faster so that means less time from the oven to my mouth. 🙂
Salted Caramel Almond Cheesecake Bites
1 1/2 c. Almond Flour
1/4 c. Brown Sugar
4 tbs. Melted Coconut Oil (I use this Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil)
1/4 tsp. Almond Extract
1/4 tsp. Salt
2 8oz pkg Cream Cheese
2 Eggs (room temperature)
1/2 c. Raw Sugar
1/4 tsp. Salt
Heat oven to 350. Line a muffin pan with 12 muffin liners. In a bowl, combine all of your crust ingredients (almond flour, sugar, coconut oil, almond extract and salt). Spoon mixture into muffin tins. I use this cookie dough scoop so that each cup gets an even amount. Next, using a spoon or a small flat drinking glass, press the crust mixture into the bottom of each cup. Bake the crusts for about 10 minutes or until just starting to slightly brown. Baking the crusts first will prevent them from becoming soggy once you add in the filling.
In a separate bowl, combine the filling ingredients and mix with a mixer on high until smooth. Then, spoon the filling mixture into each of the twelve cups. I also use the cookie dough scoop for this part as well, but if you don’t have one, then just do your best to make each cup even. Bake the cheesecakes for 10 minutes or until the centers don’t jiggle when you give the pan a slight shake.
Make sure you chill the cheesecakes for at least an hour before serving. Pop them out of the liners and top with salted caramel sauce and a sprinkle of sea salt for garnish.
Salted Caramel Sauce
1 c. Brown Sugar
6 tbs. Butter
1/2 c. Heavy Cream
1 tsp. Sea Salt
In a small sauce pan, begin melting the brown sugar over medium high heat. This process will happen pretty fast, so it’s best to stick around and keep on stirring. As the sugar melts it will begin to bubble. When it is completely melted into a syrup, begin adding the butter, one tablespoon at a time. As the butter goes in, the mixture will begin steaming and sizzling. Keep on stirring until all the butter is well incorporated. Remove the pan from the heat. Slowly pour in the heavy cream, whisking constantly until the cream is completely incorporated into the caramel mixture. Lastly, whisk in the salt.
This caramel will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 3 weeks (if it lasts that long) and will go beautifully on top of your cheesecakes, mixed into your morning coffee or as a dip for apples, pears or (gasp!) potato chips. 😉