We love any excuse for a sweet treat and, since today is National Cheesecake Day, we couldn’t let the day go by without sharing an incredible recipe with you.

But first, a little history lesson:

The first known “cheese cake” was known to be made about 2,000 years ago in Greece. Thought to be a good source of energy, cheesecake was served to athletes during the first Olympic Games. It was also a popular option for Greek wedding cakes. In the 18th century, the cheesecake started to look like something we would recognize today, replacing yeast with beaten eggs. But it wasn’t until Americans added cream cheese to the recipe in the late 1800’s, that the cheesecake that we all know and love became a reality.

These days you can taste hundreds of flavors of cheesecake, but (surprise, surprise) we’re partial to chocolate cheesecake.

With that, a Chuao cheesecake recipe to celebrate how far this divine dessert has come. Enjoy!

Mini Vanilla Almond Cheesecakes with Orange-A-Go-Go Ganache

Ingredients

Crust:

~2 cups graham cracker crumbs

~½ tsp. cinnamon

~1 stick of butter (melted)

Filling:

~1 lb. cream cheese (softened)

~3 eggs

~1 cup sugar

~1 pint sour cream

~2 tsp. vanilla

~¼ tsp. almond extract

Ganache:

~4 Orange-A-Go-Go bars

~½ cup heavy cream (plus as much as ¼ to get a “pourable consistency”)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place cupcake liners into muffin tin or lightly coat mini cheesecake pan with cooking spray.

Combine the graham crackers, cinnamon and melted butter into a medium mixing bowl.

Using a fork, combine the ingredients until the graham cracker crumbs are evenly coated with butter.

Pour crumbs into prepared pan and smooth the bottom with a glass. As you smooth the crumbs, push down in order to push the crumbs into the base of the pan as well as up the walls of the pan, approximately 1 inch. * If using muffin tin with liners, place 1 tbsp. of graham cracker mixture into each mold, then smooth and distribute crumbs using a small glass (shot glass works perfectly)

Chill the crust for at least 5 minutes, so that the melted butter is able to set up.

In an electric mixer, beat the softened cream cheese until completely smooth. (This is critical for the creaminess of the cheesecake in the final product). Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs one at a time until well combined. Slowly add the sugar and beat until creamy.

Next add the sour cream, vanilla and almond extract, mix until well combined.* Make sure to scrape down bowl to make sure everything is incorporated well.

Pour the filling into the prepared pans. Fill each mold to the top – approximately 2 tbsp.

Baking:

Place tins in the middle rack of the oven. On the lower shelf place a baking dish filled with warm water. Bake for approximately 20-25 min, until the cheesecakes are set and barely jiggle.

Once taken out of the oven let cool on a wired rack for about 30 minutes. Cover loosely and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. * In a hurry? An individual cupcake can be placed into the freezer after cooling in the fridge for at least 25 minutes.

To plate:

9” round: Run a knife around the edges of the cheesecake to loosen sides from the pan, and then remove from the spring form pan.

Individual: Carefully remove each cheesecake from muffin tin and gently remove the cupcake liner.

To make the Chocolate Ganache:

Cut or break the Orange–A–Go–Go bars into small pieces, approximately ½ inch (the smaller the pieces the faster it melts). Place into a medium-mixing bowl.

Heat the heavy cream until warm to the touch (stovetop on medium heat for 5 minutes)

Pour the warmed cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted. If the chocolate does not completely melt place in the microwave in 15-second increments stirring in between each until melted.

Lastly spoon the ganache over the cheesecake, until covered. * If ganache does not easily cover the cheesecakes, gradually add more cream to get the right consistency.

Place in fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes or until chocolate is set.

(Cheesecake filling recipe modified from Tyler Florence)

The cheesecake recipe is ever-evolving. There are differing versions depending on what country, region or state it is from. And there are a multitude of decadent toppings and mix-ins that you’ll see with the cheesecake. With all the different varieties out there, what type of cheesecake do you like best?

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