If you don’t have the 3-by-1 1/2-inch rings needed to form these mini cheesecakes, use 3- or 4-ounce ramekins.
Make Ahead: The cheesecakes need at least 30 minutes' refrigeration to set.
- 2 ounces gingersnaps (about 7 cookies)
- Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
- 12 ounces mascarpone cheese
- 2/3 cup superfine sugar (may substitute 2/3 cup granulated sugar whizzed in a food processor until visibly finer)
- 3/4 cup chilled heavy (whipping) cream
Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Have six 3-by-1 1/2-inch rings or small ramekins at hand. (If using the ramekins, you don’t have to line the baking sheet.)
Place the cookies in a food processor; pulse to the consistency of fine bread crumbs. The yield should be a scant 1/2 cup.
Combine the vanilla bean scrapings, mascarpone, sugar and heavy whipping cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk attachment, or a hand-held electric mixer. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes or until the mixture has enough body to cling to the whisk or beaters.
Place the rings on the lined baking sheet. Pipe or spoon equal amounts of the mixture into the rings, smoothing their surfaces. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to set.
Discard the plastic wrap from the top of the cheesecakes. Dip the top and bottom of each one into the gingersnap crumbs. Working with one cake at a time and holding the ring low over an individual dessert plate, use a rounded knife heated briefly with hot water, then dried, to dislodge the cheesecake; let it drop onto the plate. Repeat with the remaining cheesecakes.
(If using small ramekins, use half of the gingersnap crumbs to cover the bottom of each ramekin, patting them down to form a crust. Divide the cheese mixture evenly among the ramekins, smoothing their surfaces. Cover each with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours. Before serving, divide the remaining gingersnap crumbs among them, as topping.)
Adapted from "Take Five Ingredients: 95 Delicious Dishes Using Just 5 Ingredients," by James Tanner (Kyle, 2011).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.