Black-Bottomed Nutella Swirl Mini Cheesecakes

Recently I went to Costco and stocked up on Nutella… forgetting that the last time I went to Costco, I also stocked up on Nutella.  So, my current Nutella overstock situation calls for a strong effort to make all things Nutella, starting with these Black-Bottomed Nutella Swirl Mini Cheesecakes (which in a nutshell is cheesecake in cupcake form).  Starting from bottom to top, this tasty little treat consists of a firm chocolate wafer crust (that holds up really well and doesn’t crumble like other crusts), a layer of rich Nutella cheesecake, and a layer of smooth, creamy vanilla cheesecake, all topped with a dark chocolate wafer cookie perched on top of a dollop of Nutella.  After one taste of this, I immediately thought that I may never have to go to the Cheesecake Factory again.

Black-Bottomed Nutella Swirl Mini Cheesecakes- A Dodge 3

Black-Bottomed Nutella Swirl Mini Cheesecakes

(from Abigail Johnson Dodge from Mini Treats & Hand-Held Sweets – http://www.abbydodge.com/books/mini-treats-hand-held-sweets/;  My notes are in italics between [   ].  )
Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

For the black bottom
3/4 cup (3-3/4 oz.) finely ground chocolate cookies [The original recipe recommends using Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers.  I can never find those at my grocery store so I used Quadratini Dark Chocolate Bite Size Wafer Cookies]
2 Tbs. (1 oz.) unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake
2 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup (4-5/8 oz.) granulated sugar
1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Pinch of table salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (10 oz.) Nutella

Directions

Make the black bottom

  1. Line 12 regular-sized (2-3/4-inch diameter) muffin cups with foil liners (paper ones won’t work here) and lightly grease the bottom and sides [I didn’t grease the foil liners because it seemed like a messy process, and my cheesecake released from the foil after baking OK].
  2. Put the cookie crumbs [I used a food processor to pulse the cookies to a medium to fine crumb] and butter in a small bowl and mix with a fork until the crumbs are evenly moistened.
  3. Portion the crumbs evenly among the foil liners (1 firmly packed tablespoon in each). If you have a tart tamper, this is a great time to use it. If not, tear off a piece of plastic wrap [Parchment paper worked well too], place it over the crumbs, and use your fingers to press firmly to make a compact layer. Slide the tin into the refrigerator while you make the filling. (This helps keep the crumbs on the bottom when you are swirling the batters together.)

Make the cheesecake

  1. Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F.
  2. Put the cream cheese in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium high until very smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Continue beating until well blended and smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently; there should be no lumps.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on medium speed until just blended. Once the eggs have been added to the batter, it’s important to mix thoroughly without overbeating or the cheesecake will puff and crack during baking.
  4. Scoop out 1 cup of the vanilla batter and set aside.
  5. Add the Nutella to the remaining batter and stir until well blended.
  6. Portion the Nutella batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups (about 4 Tbs. per cup).
  7. Next, portion the vanilla batter evenly among the cups (about 1 Tbs. in each). The cups should be completely filled.
  8. Drag and fold the tip of a wooden skewer, toothpick, or paring knife through the two batters in a swirled pattern. There should still be solid streaks of each batter visible, and the cups should be filled to the brim. Tap the muffin tin on the counter to settle the batters.
  9. Bake until the centers barely jiggle when the pan is nudged, 20 to 22 minutes [Mine took a little longer to bake; around 25 minutes]. Set the muffin tin on a rack and let cool completely.
  10. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 6 hours.

I love that these can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to a month.

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