Category Archives: Cheesecake

Cheesecake-stuffed Strawberry Bites

Strawberries

Heading into Memorial Day weekend, our Backstage Baker offers up this scrumptious recipe.  In fact, it’s so easy, it’s almost hard to call it a recipe!

But first, don’t forget to watch the Tony Awards on Sunday, June 11, 2017 — Indecent is nominated for Best Play, Best Director (Rebecca Taichman) and Best Lighting (Christopher Akerlind.)  Just for fun, here’s a link to a post on The Skriker, a show that Chris lit at the Public many moons ago.

Also, don’t forget that James’ previous show Jitney is also nominated for several Tony Awards this season!  You have to wonder if he sprinkles magic dust on his shows, right?  Maybe it’s just all the baking . . .

But back to these cheesecake-stuffed strawberry bites!  This is a super easy dessert to throw together. Great for parties and week end celebrations. And now strawberries are in season, it’s the perfect time to make them.

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberry Bites

Ingredients:

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pint fresh strawberries, washed, then hulled and cored
Almond cookies crushed (or for a more traditional taste use crushed graham crackers)
Half cup dark chocolate pieces melted

Method:

Beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla extract together in a bowl until smooth; spoon into a piping bag or a resealabe bag with a corner snipped.
Fill cavities of cored strawberries with the cream cheese mixture. Dip filled side of strawberries in the crushed graham crackers to coat. Drizzle with dark chocolate.

KAtrina LenkKatrina Lenk and Adina Verson try the Stuffed Strawberries (Katrina will also star in next season’s THE BAND’S VISIT)

Tom Nelis
Tom Nelis (left) enjoying the wine while discussing his role with understudy Ben Cherry (center) as understudy Eleanor Reissa looks on.

The First Cheesecake

<cheesecakeSimple, classic cheesecake.  From the first cheesecake recipe our Backstage Baker ever used!

Perhaps you recall James’s Cheesecake Bake-offs of past years (and posts!)  Well, here is the very first cheesecake recipe James ever used.  (Just imagine young James reading the New York Times, then toddling around his mother’s Milwaukee kitchen, surrounded by cheese curds, cream and cows, mixing up this luscious treat!  Okay, perhaps it didn’t go quite like that . . .)

In James’ own words:  “Here it is. First published in the New York Times as Jon’s Cheesecake. I did a few modifications, mostly making my own crust.”  I searched the Times’ archives for the original recipe, but came up empty. But who cares?  This recipe is delicious!  James served it up at a Jitney Wine and Unwind and it was gone in minutes!

Ingredients:

For Graham cracker crust:
1 cup Graham crumbs
¼ cup cocoa
2 tbsp sugar
¼ cup melted butter

For Filling:
2 packages (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

For Topping: (don’t skip this, it really makes the whole cake sing!)
1 pint sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Method:

In a small bowl, mix together the graham crumbs, sugar, cocoa, and melted butter and press into a 9 inch springform pan.

Mix cream cheese and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Mix until well combined.

Spoon over graham crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes until set. Let cool on a rack while you make the topping.

For topping combine sour cream, sugar and vanilla. Spread carefully over top of baked cake. Refrigerate overnight

Garnish with fresh fruit just before serving.

carra-patterson
Carra Patterson (Rena) enjoying a slice

harvy-and-ray
Harvy Blanks (Shealing) and Ray Anthony Thomas (Philmore) fighting over the last piece

Mini Raspberry Cheesecakes

The Backstage Baker’s new show is a revival of the award-winning David Hare play Plenty.  Check it out here.   It stars Rachel Weisz and I think is already completely sold out.

For their first Wine and Unwind, our BB outdid himself with these gorgeous looking mini cheesecakes.  I mean, can you stand them?  And can you eat just one???  (There’s a joke about plenty in here that I can’t quite find . . .)

mini-raspberry-cheesecakes

Before you start, you need to get a mini-cheesecake pan with removable bottom sections.  (OMG, more kitchenware??  Yet . . . these little darlings sure look worth it!) Here’s a link to the one the Backstage Baker uses.   

Mini Raspberry Cheesecakes

Ingredients

1 cup crushed Chocolate wafers or ginger snaps or whatever crisp cookie you are in the mood for
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
24 fresh raspberries
Chocolate chips (white or dark, depending your taste)
2 ounces dark chocolate, melted, for drizzling

Method

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease mini-cheesecake pan.  Stuff 12 raspberries with dark or white chocolate chips.  (James tells me he was able to get two chips into each raspberry.)

Place a heaping teaspoon (more or less, depending on how much you like crust) in each cheesecake well. Tamp down with fingers or a teaspoon. Place in the oven for 3 minutes. Let cool.

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until well mixed. Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla; beat until light and fluffy.

Fill cheesecake wells half-full, them place one raspberry stuffed with chocolate on top. Cover with the rest of the batter. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Cool completely.

Gently push each cheesecake out of its well from the bottom. With a thin spatula, remove each cheesecake from the bottom plate and place on parchment paper or lightly greased tinfoil. Drizzle with melted chocolate and place a raspberry in the center.  Heaven!

corey-stoll-who-plays-brock-jesca-prudencio-assistant-director-and-maria-goyanes-associate-producer
Corey Stoll who plays Brock, Jesca Prudencio – Assistant Director and Maria Goyanes – Associate Producer wining and unwinding

emily-bergl
Emily Bergl who plays Alice and her contribution a delicious Golden Syrup cake. (Notice the colorful pile of spike tape on the table in the back!!!) I’ll ask her is she will share the recipe.

 

Chocolate Swirl Mini-cheesecakes

Mini cheesecakes

I’m behind on my Wine and Unwind posts — this recipe is actually from two weeks ago.  But, oh my, was this ever a popular one!  Nothing hits the spot better after a five show weekend than cheesecake and champagne (thanks again, Anna Wintour, for the case of bubbly.)

I was only able to get a couple of pictures because JULIA ROBERTS was in the house that night and came backstage afterwards.  To say the green room was crowded was an understatement.  Oh, wait, is it tacky to name drop on a baking blog?

Chocolate Swirl Mini-Cheesecakes

(Based on a recipe from the King Arthur Flour website)

Ingredients:

Crust:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup almond flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ice water
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter, cold

Cheesecake filling:
8 ounces block-style cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream OR sour cream
1 large egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 ounce bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted

Method:

1) For the crust: Preheat oven to 425°F.  Add flour, almond flour, sugar, and salt to a food processor. Pulse twice. Pulse in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Do not over process. Sprinkle in the vanilla and a teaspoon or two of water if the dough is too crumbly to hold together when squeezed.

2) Divide the crumbs among the 12 cups of a bite-size cheesecake pan. Press them firmly to the bottoms and about 1/2″ up the sides. Bake in the preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until set and just beginning to color. Remove from the oven and let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

3) For the batter: In a medium-sized bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the cream, egg and almond extract, mix well. Spoon the batter into the cooled crusts, using about 2 tablespoons in each. Top with a scant half teaspoon of melted chocolate. Use a toothpick to swirl it into the batter.

4) Bake the cheesecakes for 18 to 20 minutes, until just set. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes — the tops will sink slightly. Use a knife to gently loosen the edges, then carefully invert the pan and push the cheesecakes out. Immediately turn the cheesecakes right-side up and chill them. To remove the metal plates before serving, run the blade of a table knife under hot water to warm it, then run the knife between the crust and the metal disk to free up the cheesecake.

5) Serve with whipped cream if desired.

mini cheesecakes 2

 

Yield: 12 mini cheesecakes.

All the (Milky) Way Cheesecake Brownies

Jersey Boys Tony Good wishes

“Jersey Boys” cast and crew wishing their across the street neighbors good luck on Tony night!

“All the Way” represented at Broadway’s biggest awards show, bringing the Tonys for Best Play and Best Performance by an Actor home to 52nd Street.   Our Backstage Baker was at Radio City in his tux to enjoy the show and party until dawn.  (Okay, maybe not exactly dawn, but there was some party hopping happening!)

And on post-Tony Tuesday, James brought in a celebratory batch of  decadent “All the (Milky) Way Cheesecake Brownies.”  Enjoy!

All the (Milky) Way Brownies 1

All The (Milky) Way Cheesecake Brownies

Ingredients:

Brownie Layer

1 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

 Cheesecake Layer
16 oz cream cheese, softened (2 packs)
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 bag chopped Milky Way Simply Caramel Bites (these are great because you don’t have to unwrap the individual candies.)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom and sides of  a 9/13 pan with parchment paper. Lightly grease the paper.

1. With a mixer combine melted butter with sugar and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Add the cocoa and mix well. Then add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until just combined, do not over mix.

2. Set aside one cup of the brownie batter and smooth the rest into the 9×13 prepared pan

3. With your mixer  (cleaned off), begin making your cheesecake layer by beating cream cheese and sugar until smooth.

4. Add the vanilla and then the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.

5. Pour the cream cheese mixture on top of the brownie mixture and using a spatula, smooth it evenly over the brownie batter.

6. Sprinkle the chopped Milky Way Simple Caramel pieces evenly over cream cheese layer.

7. Using the reserved cup of brownie batter, drop spoonfuls over the top of the candy bar layer, scattering around.

8. Use your spatula or a butter knife to gently swirl the batters. This will combine the cream cheese layer and top brownies layer a bit, which covering the candies in batter. This does not need to be perfect.

9. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares (at least an hour).

I like these cold so I refrigerate after cooled. Any leftovers (if there are any leftovers) should be refrigerated.

 

 

Cherry Tartlets

I’ve fallen behind on my blogging responsibilities — Cub Scout Den mother duties and working at KINKY BOOTS has filled my time.  But better late than never — this is a sweet, sweet recipe that is also very easy to make.  Our James served them at a baby shower he whipped up for Crystal Dickinson and Brandon Dirden.  (Brandon, as you may or may not know, plays Martin Luther King in ALL THE WAY.  Crystal played Francine/Lena in CLYBOURNE PARK.)

Wine and Unwind will return shortly — James has been tweaking a recipe for Mini-Chocolate Cakes with Peanut Butter Cream that he’ll be sharing sooner rather than later (I hope!).

Cherry Tartlets

Cherry Tartlets

Ingredients:

For the dough:
8 ounce package cream cheese 1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder 1/4 tsp. salt

Filling:
8 ounce pkg. cream cheese
4 Tablespoon milk
8 Tablespoon powdered sugar
1 Can Cherry Pie Filling

Method:

1.  Let cheese soften at room temperature. Cream together with butter.

2.  Mix together next 3 ingredients; combine with creamed mixture. Wrap dough in waxed paper. Chill 4 hours or overnight.

3.  Divide dough into balls about the size of walnuts. Place each ball in a 2″ muffin cup. Press dough on bottom and sides of muffin cups. Prick with fork. Bake in 350 degree oven 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

4.  For the filling:
Soften cream cheese at room temperature. Mix together with milk and sugar. Place a spoonful in each cooked tartlet shell.

5.  Using a can of Cherry pie filling, place a couple cherries over cheese filling.

Yield: 48 tarts 

 

Crystal & BrandonThe happy parents-to-be Crystal and Brandon.

 

Sopapilla Cheesecake Pie

James is deep into rehearsals for Henrik Ibsen’s “Master Builder” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.  He promises to share some recipes for fabulous Swedish treats as soon as he can think of some.

In the meantime, we still have some divine cheesecake recipes to post from James’ Cheesecake Bake-off . . .  This one was a BIG winner for Lori Wolter Hudson, the assistant director on “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.”  She came in second place for the overall prize,  and won the categories of ORIGINAL FLAVOR, CRUST and the Virgin prize for BEST FIRST EFFORT.  I think it sounds inventive AND simple!

Sopapilla Cheesecake
SOPAPILLA CHEESECAKE PIE
INGREDIENTS:
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract
2 (8 ounce) cans refrigerated crescent rolls
3/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup honey
DIRECTIONS:
1.  Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2.Beat the cream cheese with 1 cup of sugar and the vanilla extract in a bowl until smooth.
3.Unroll the cans of crescent roll dough, and use a rolling pin to shape each piece into 9×13 inch rectangles. Press one piece into the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Evenly spread the cream cheese mixture into the baking dish, then cover with the remaining piece of crescent dough. Stir together 3/4 cup of sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Dot the mixture over the top of the cheesecake.
4.Bake in the preheated oven until the crescent dough has puffed and turned golden brown, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle with honey. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into 12 squares.
And now for the cheesecake shot:
Lori Wolter Hudson