For this cupcake creation, I did not want to stray too far from the classic cheesecake in the name of creativity. In fact, I literally made mini cheesecakes. I tightly packed down a graham cracker + macadamia nut crust into (compostable, unbleached) baking cups and filled them with a lemony cheesecake filling. I even gave them a cheesecake bath (bake the pan inside a larger pan of water) as I have done with the real deal in a spring form pan to minimize cracking. Don't know if it was necessary, but it felt authentic! But the truly extraordinary ingredient was a splash of LIQUID GOLD. What's that, you ask? Oh, it's so good I don't even want to tell you about it so I can keep it all to myself. However, considering I can only afford it with my Uncle Tom's employee discount... I suppose I have no choice but to divulge:
Dolce Wine, given to us from the Gods (or, some say, the Nickel & Nickel Proprietors), and whose name derives from the Italian saying "Dolce Far Niente" -- appropriately translated to "Sweet To Do Nothing".
Sweet Kiera’s Cheesecake Cupcake in Review: The macadamia nut flavor with the zest of lemon made for a sweet combo. I might just keep these in my repertoire, if I can afford it.
Sweet Reflection: I was preparing this treat in the late morning of Thanksgiving day. While I was talking to my mom, she was telling me about the cranberry mold she just ate at my Aunt Susie's Thanksgiving Dinner in NY. She was saying it tasted so amazing that she had to ask what Susie did differently this year. Turns out Super Sue threw a little "leftover Dolce" in there! I guess that is what planted the seed. Instantly, that seed blossomed into cracking open my Dolce I had been keeping on reserve. ('Tis the season.) I knew that Dolce could only do wonderful things for these cheesecake cupcakes. I knew this because:
a) All I had to do was recall the amazing, rare, and luxurious dessert I was lucky enough to enjoy on my cousin Garrett's 30th Birthday (only in Napa, people): The Dolce Slushy.
b) Vale and I toasted with some Dolce at 11 AM and she explained to me that with the demanding schedule of little Miss Lucy (wakes up every hour at night but sleeps peacefully most of the day) that this was the perfect time to have a nice drink. So I felt it was only fair to help make enjoying that drink in the morning a bit more discreet. :)
Here are the photos (courtesy of Vale's camera, once again). Kept the toppings simple, by a perhaps selfish personal preference.
Sweet to Do NOTHING: These cupcakes were in the oven for what felt like forever so next time I will just plan to set the timer an extra 20-30 minutes, leave the over door closed, and relax. I also vow to let them sit in the fridge over night without taking them out, then putting them back in, etc. (As Cole can attest, though I can't really explain.) A lesson to be learned from the liquid gold.
Could it get any Sweeter?: Cole suggested I try a thin layer of white chocolate between the crust and the filling next time. While my first thought was: Gee, that sounds a bit indulgent... I quickly remembered a litle thing called a DOLCE SLUSHY and realized "a bit indulgent" is just another phrase that we should all embrace a little more.