I’m writing this from on board the Sapphire Princess, somewhere just off the coast of Spain. We’re just over a week into out two-week cruise, and I’m taking an hour out of my very busy day of relaxing on the balcony to finally write the post I meant to publish before we even set foot on board ship. But since when do I ever stick to my schedule, hey?
I’ve got plans for a trio of posts in the coming month or so, each focusing on a sweet treat from the various countries we’ve been stopping at on our little European tour. Plus, I will share some photos and stories from our adventures too. It’s been a dream vacation, but I will try and keep the annoying holiday photos down to a minimum.
Right, enough with the cruise – I’m actually here to talk about the adorable little Millionaire’s Shortbread Cheesecakes you see before you.
These beauties were inspired by the very similar Gu ones you find in the supermarket. They are a four layered masterpiece, but there’s nothing complicated going on here. You will need a couple of hours of spare time to make them, but quite a lot of this will be spent waiting for things to chill and set, so treat yourself and binge watch something on NetFlix whilst you wait. Or take a leaf out of my book and daydream about your (not very) upcoming kitchen renovation.
They start off simple, with a shortbread biscuit base. I’m keeping things as simple as possible for you, so don’t even think about making your own shortbread (okay, if you really must then I won’t stop you). Crumble up some shop-bought cookies, add a little bit of melted butter – less than you usually would for a buttery biscuit base, as otherwise things get a little too hard – and spoon into the bottom of your ramekin or shot glass.
Side note: You can make these cheesecakes in whatever dishes you like. Pretty much anything works. Little tea cups? Egg cups? Small drinking glasses? Whatever you have lying around that is suitable for eating out of. I own these tall shot glasses which are perfect for a small after-dinner dessert, or do what I did and purchase six individual Gu Key Lime Pies, washing out the glass ramekins they come in once you’ve finished them. You could even make one whole cheesecake in a 9 inch springform cake tin (use 1.5 times the recipe below).
After you’ve finished the shortbread bases, pop them in the freezer to chill whilst you make the salted caramel cheesecake. This is a no-bake cheesecake (you know I can’t get enough of those) and it’s pretty much fool-proof. As per usual, I like to use both regular cream cheese (full fat Philly) and Mascarpone – this gives things a great flavour whilst not being too heavy.
There’s nothing like making a homemade cheesecake for you to realise how bad for you these little desserts truly are. Everything in moderation though, yes?
In the spirit of keeping things easy and quick, let’s not bother making our own salted caramel sauce. It’s easy to pick up a jar from the store (I use this one from Sainsbury’s if you’re interested). Homemade salted caramel sauce can be a fickle beast, and the only recipe I have ever got to actually work is this one from Sally’s Baking Addiction. Still, even that’s not 100% fool-proof. Save yourself the grey hairs and wasted sugar – no one will ever know the difference.
The cheesecake layer has a little salted caramel sauce mixed right on in there, which gives a gentle caramel taste. It’s nothing over the top, as we’re going to spoon a layer of salted caramel sauce straight on top once the cheesecake has set. Perfect.
Once you’ve set the cheesecake in the freezer, and added the salted caramel layer, it’s time to make the dark chocolate ganache. Definitely opt for dark chocolate (bitter-sweet) rather than milk chocolate (semi-sweet) for this one, as it helps cut through the sweetness in the cheesecake and caramel.
I decorated my cheesecakes with edible gold stars and a little gold shimmer spray, because I never miss an opportunity to add a little sparkle. But feel free to leave them plain or add some mini white chocolate chips or sprinkles if wanted. It’s all good.
Enough chat – I’m going to head on over to the all-you-can-eat buffet for a spot of lunch, before catching the afternoon movie out on the top deck. Did someone say complimentary popcorn?
Mini Millionaire's Cheesecakes
For the base
- 200 g shortbread biscuits or cookies
- 25 g unsalted butter melted
For the cheesecake filling
- 160 g mascarpone cheese
- 240 g full fat cream cheese I used Philidelphia
- 100 g icing sugar or confectioners sugar
- 4 tablespoons salted caramel sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 200 ml double or heavy cream
For the topping:
- 6-8 tablespoons salted caramel sauce
- 120 ml double or heavy cream
- 120 g dark or bittersweet chocolate chopped into pieces
- Edible glitter spray optional
- Edible gold stars optional
For the base
- Crush the shortbread biscuits into fine crumbs, either by using a food processor or by placing in a strong plastic bag and bashing with a rolling pin. Place the crumbs into a small bowl and add the melted butter, stirring together until the crumbs are coated and slightly damp.
- Press the crumbs into the base of 6 to 8 glass ramekins (depending on size) until you have a layer about 1cm or ½inch thick in each ramekin. You can also use shot glasses in you prefer, although you will probably have enough to fill 10-12 glasses (again, depending on size). Place the ramekins in the freezer to chill whilst making the filling.
For the cheesecake filling
- Place the mascarpone cheese, cream cheese, sifted icing sugar, salted caramel sauce, and vanilla extract into a large bowl. Mix together using an electric hand mixer until smooth.
- In another bowl, whisk the double cream until stiff peaks have just about formed. Add the whipped cream to the cheese mixture, folding in gently to avoid knocking all the air out, until all the cream has been incorporated.
- Remove the ramekins from the freezer and spoon or pipe the salted caramel cheesecake batter onto the biscuit base. You want to almost fill the ramekins or glasses, leaving about ½ inch of space at the top for the salted caramel and chocolate layers. Make sure to press the cheesecake batter into the edges of the glass so there are no air bubbles showing, and ensure the top of each cheesecake is flat and level.
For the topping
- Place a generous tablespoon full of salted caramel sauce on to the top of each of the cheesecakes, and tilt the ramekin until it has spread right across the top of each of them, covering the cheesecake layer completely. Place the cheesecakes in the freezer to chill whilst making the chocolate ganache.
- To make the ganache, place the double cream and chocolate pieces into a small bowl, making sure that the cream covers the chocolate. Place in the microwave on half power for about 90 seconds, and then check to see whether the cream has started to bubble. If not, return to the microwave for up to 30 seconds more.
- Once the cream has started to bubble, remover from the microwave and leave to stand for a minute. Then stir the chocolate and cream together until soft and smooth. If there are bits of chocolate that haven't quite melted then return the bowl to the microwave for a further 30 seconds or so, as needed. If the ganache splits (and looks greasy or not smooth) then you may be able to save it by heating up a few more tablespoons of cream in the microwave until bubbling, and then stirring this straight into the chocolate ganache.
- Remove the cheesecakes from the freezer and gently pour some ganache on top of each of them, making sure not to over-fill the ramekins or glasses. Tilt the ramekins so that the chocolate completely covers the salted caramel layer, and then place the cheesecakes into the fridge (not freezer this time!) to fully set for at least an hour.
- Once the ganache is firm, spray the top of the cheesecakes with edible gold spray, and add some edible gold stars for decoration.