Baby Grand Marnier Cheesecakes
Yield: 22 individual cheesecakes
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (Throw a bunch of graham crackers in a zipper top bag and whack the tar out of them. They don’t have to be perfect. As long as you have most of the crumbs about the texture of rice or smaller, you’re good!)
6 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup plus 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
3 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese, softened
3 large eggs
4 Tablespoons Grand Marnier (or other orange liqueur)
1 Tablespoon real vanilla extract
Place a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 300°F. Place an empty metal cake pan (Don’t use glass! It may break in this application!) on the floor of the oven. Put a kettle of water on to boil.
In a small bowl, use a fork to toss together the graham cracker crumbs, 1/3 cup of the sugar and the butter. Butter or use non-stick cooking spray to lubricate 22 muffin cups (either metal or silicone. If using metal, line with cupcake papers.) If using silicone muffin cups, place them on a cookie sheet or sheet pan. Add about 1 Tablespoon of the graham cracker mixture to each muffin cup. Tamp the crumb mixture firmly down so that it holds together. When muffin cups all have a bottom crust layer there may be some crumb mixture remaining. You can store the leftover mixture in a zipper top bag in the freezer. Set the muffin cups aside.
Fit your food processor work bowl with the standard blade. Add remaining ingredients, tighten the lid and process until smooth. Remove lid, scrape down sides and process again for a few more seconds, or until the scrapings are fully incorporated. The batter will be fairly loose. It should be about the thickness of custard sauce or thick egg nog. Evenly divide the batter between the muffin cups. You should fill them nearly to the top (1/8″ headspace around the edge of the cups.)
Pour the boiling water into the pan on the floor of the oven carefully. It will steam up! Place the sheet pan or muffin tin on the center rack, close oven door and cook for 18-22 minutes, checking after 15 minutes. The cheesecakes will be done when they still wobble in the center but are set up around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature for about 45 minutes. If using a muffin tin, remove the cheesecake filled papers and place on a plate. If using individual silicone cups, simply place cups on a plate. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to chill thoroughly in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours prior to serving.
Unmold cheesecakes from liners and place on a serving platter accompanied by various toppings such as dulce de leche, chocolate sauce or ganache, diced fresh fruit, fruit coulis or compotes, or serve alone.
To Freeze Leftovers:
These can be frozen in the silicone cups or in paper cupcake liners or you can remove them first. Either way, wrap securely in plastic wrap and set on a cookie sheet in the freezer. When frozen firmly, transfer individually wrapped cheesecakes into a zipper top bag. Store in the freezer for up to a month. You can safely freeze it beyond that, but after that point quality begins to suffer a bit.
To Serve Previously Frozen Cheesecakes:
Remove from freezer and wrappings. Place on a plate, loosely covered, at room temperature for an hour prior to serving, or in the refrigerator overnight.