Hay Hay It's Donna Day was started by Barbara back in November 2005 and has become a highly anticipated event. First there's the announcement of the theme, followed by the round up and then the voting. Yes, voting means that there is a winner. And winning means there is a fabulous Donna related prize and the honor of hosting the next round. Peabody was bestowed that honor for her souffle last month and deemed this HHDD #10 to be all about cheesecake.
For some strange reason I had it in my head that the deadline was on Monday March 19 so I planned to make my cheesecake on Sunday morning. But thankfully I double-checked and found out the deadline is today! I still had time but I had to work fast since the deadline was quickly approaching. My fridge was a bit barren and I only had one 8-ounce package of Philly cream cheese which was definitely not enough to make a 9-inch cheesecake. Since I was whipping this up at the very last minute I didn't want to make a trip to the store. After a quick survey of what I had on hand, I had no choice but to go miniature.
First, I needed the flavor inspiration. I've had a canister of Brown & Haley's Mocha Roca toffee candy in my pantry since Christmas and have always intended to use it for baking. Mocha Roca, a variation of the popular Almond Roca, contains coffee beans, cashews, chocolate and, of course, toffee. I blitzed a few of the candies in my food processor to make something akin to a ground praline.
Now I needed a crust but I had no graham crackers, wafers, or cookies but I had nuts. So I modified a hazelnut crust recipe from Tish Boyle's The Cake Book by substituting cashews to complement the Mocha Roca and prepared only one-third of the crust recipe. The filling part was easy. I made a one-third recipe of my tried and true basic cheesecake filling recipe. I originally planned to just mix the ground candy into the batter so that it would be scattered throughout. But I decided to do layers instead.
My last minute mini Mocha Roca cheesecakes turned out great. The ground toffee candy melted and created a sweet, nutty, coffee bean layer sandwiched between 2 layers of creamy cheesecake. Sprinkling some ground toffee candy on top of the baked cheesecake added some texture and it looks pretty too.
Mini Mocha Roca Cheesecakes
(makes 9 mini cheesecakes)
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cashew nuts
1/8 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened at room temp.
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 extra large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp melted butter, cooled
about 1/2 cup ground Mocha Roca toffee candies (unwrap 6 or 7 candies, grind in a food processor)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 9 four-ounce capacity wells of a standard muffin pan with cupcake liners.
Place the flour, sugar, cashews, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until the cashews are finely ground. Add the butter and process until the dough just comes together. It's okay if it's crumbly.
Scoop 1 tablespoon of dough into each of the 9 wells and press the dough evenly into the bottom using the back of the tablespoon.
Bake crusts at 350F for about 8-9 minutes or until the edges of the crust start to take on a light golden color. Allow crusts to cool while you make the filling.
Beat the cream cheese with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add sugar and mix until blended. Mix in egg and vanilla until blended. Mix in melted butter.
Scoop one tablespoon of batter over each crust. Top with 1-2 teaspoons of ground Mocha Roca. (Any leftover ground candy can be used later for decoration.) Top the ground Mocha Roca with one tablespoon of batter. If there's any remaining batter, divide evenly among the 9 cups. (It's okay if the cup is almost filled to the top of the muffin well. They will puff up a bit while baking and then sink down creating a nice little "cup" to hold a dollop of cream or more ground Mocha Roca.)
Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes until the tops begin to crack and the centers are set. Cool completely. (The cheesecakes will sink a bit in the center.)
To serve, peel off the cupcake liner. Top with whipped cream or sprinkle with any leftover ground Mocha Roca.