Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sweet Potato Cheesecake Bites

Sometime this spring, I froze some sweet potato puree I made. Over the weekend, I decided to clean out some of the freezer and made sweet potato popovers with some of the sweet potato puree (delicious!). Today I was wanting to make a dessert with the rest of the puree. Since it is fall, the time for flavorful and comforting desserts is upon us. And desserts that are slightly richer....but since I'm a fan of 'everything in moderation,' I decided to cut my desserts in smaller portions. Now, I just need someone to take them away so I don't eat more than I should 'because they're so small!' Guests can have as many 'bites' or as little as they want when these sweet potato bars are cut smaller. I really love how some restaurants (P.F. Chang's for instance) are allowing patrons to order smaller portions of their desserts. It makes it fun to try more things this way!

I ran across this recipe at East Village Kitchen blog and changed it up a bit to suit my liking. Also, I accidentally left out the baking powder from the original recipe (1/2 tsp.) in the base, but didn't miss it--actually preferred the creamier texture. And it still held up to being cut in smaller bites. My husband said it tasted like pumpkin pie--but I think it tastes better. No one can understand why I don't like pumpkin pie because I love pumpkin pie spices, but if I'm going to have my calories, I want it to be on something I love. Well, I really love these bites! Probably because they are creamy (I love pumpkin cheesecake!). You can skip the pumpkin pie spice for a purer flavor. And, I'm guessing you can substitute pumpkin for the sweet potato.

By the way, does anyone else find surprises in their kitchen? This is what I found when I began my baking. I was told that Minnie also wanted to cook. Apparently, Minnie also ate a few....that's the story I'm sticking with anyway...

These sweet potato cheesecake bites would be a fun dessert to serve during the holidays or even for cocktail-type parties where only appetizers and/or desserts are served. 


Should make about ~32 mini squares

For the base:
  • 8 Tbsp. butter (1 stick)--I used salted butter--a part 'light' butter and a part real butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sweet potato puree (canned or cooked & pureed by you)*
  • 3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar (raw sugar preferred)
  • 1 cup flour (I used all purpose, but plan on trying whole wheat pastry flour next time)
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white (reserve yolk for topping)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract (this may seem like a lot, but I think vanilla goes really well with the sweet potatoes)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (optional)

For topping:
  • 1 (8 oz.) package reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 5 Tbsp. brown sugar (or raw)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 8 inch square pan with 2 inch high walls with butter. Trim two pieces of baker’s parchment so they can sit flat on the bottom the the pan and so they are long enough to hang over the sides by a few inches. Butter the paper. (Now, I skipped the buttering before applying the parchment but think it was an essential step—since I had rough edges and ended up eating them all. Or, I'm not sure what it would be like to skip the parchment paper step altogether....?)

Microwave your sweet potatoes. Then, microwave the butter to melt it completely (about 30-45 seconds), and whisk the butter into the mashed sweet potatoes until the mixture is smooth with very few bumps.
Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, a hand mixer or a whisk, add sugar to the sweet potato mixture and beat until smooth. Add egg, egg white, and vanilla and beat until they are fully integrated. Add flour and salt and mix just until the liquids have absorbed them. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, spreading it evenly.

In a separate bowl, using a whisk or hand mixer, combine cream cheese, egg yolk, sugar, and vanilla and beat until smooth and uniform.

Place 6-8 large dollops of the mixture on top of the batter in the pan. Use a knife to swirl the cream cheese mixture into the batter. Rap the pan flat against the counter a few times to level, then place in the preheated oven, on the middle rack. 

Bake until the cheesecake swirls are starting to turn golden, and a toothpick inserted into the batter part comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Use the parchment to pull the cake from the pan and transfer it to a cutting board and cut into squares. (You can place them in mini-muffin liners like I did for an easy-to-eat way to serve. No utensils are needed if you are standing :))

Store sweet potato cheesecake bites in an airtight container in the fridge.

*If you are using leftover baked sweet potatoes, remove them from foil, cut them in half and microwave them for 30 seconds to a minute, depending on thickness. If you are starting with raw sweet potatoes, poke holes in the skin with a fork and microwave on high for 4 to six minutes, or until they are soft and easily mashed. Discard skins and mash and whisk with a fork until they are smooth. 

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