|Fresh Summer Limes. Photo: Flickr, Darwin Bell
Back in the early 1980s, when my Aunt Evie was putting together our family cookbook, my mother volunteered a recipe on my behalf. Titled "Brucie's Microwave Cheesecakes," it stood alongside my cousin Teddy's "Sesame Street Cookies" and my cousin Cathy's "Oven Fried Chicken," evidence that, at age 8, I was already a kitchen prodigy. However, it was all a lie: My recipe was stolen from the "Sunset Microwave Cookbook."
Years later, I found out that my cousins' recipes were also reprinted from various sources. In the meantime, however, I felt like a plagiarist and was always careful to point out that it wasn't my recipe, but rather one that I made a lot. Even so, there was something about my culinary larceny -- intentional or not -- that rubbed me the wrong way.
Recently, as I was working my way through various family dishes, I decided to give this one another shot. While the recipe that follows owes much of its inspiration to the fine folks at "Sunset," the ingredients, preparation method and taste are definitely my own, and I take full responsibility for all of the above!
Get the recipe for lime cheesecake tarts after the jump!
Bruce's Microwaved Lime Cheesecake Tarts
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs
1 teaspoon sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup plus two tablespoons sugar
Zest of one lime
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (alternately, you can try Key lime juice)
Strawberries, lime slices or other fresh fruit for garnish
Special equipment: six 4-ounce ramekins, paper (not foil!) muffin cups
Line ramekins with muffin cups. Set aside. Melt butter in microwave and combine with graham-cracker crumbs, gingersnap crumbs and 1 teaspoon sugar. Divide butter/crumb mixture between muffin cups and press firmly into bottom and partially up the sides of the cups. Set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, blend cream cheese, lime juice, the remaining sugar, lime zest and egg until fully integrated and smooth. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin cups, dividing evenly. Place ramekins in a circle in the microwave and cook, uncovered, on high for 1 minute.
If you don't have a carousel in your microwave, rotate cups 1/2 turn. Cook on high for another minute. After the second minute of microwaving, continue cooking in 30-second increments until tarts look slightly dry on top. The cooking time will vary greatly, depending upon the strength of your microwave. Mine took 2 minutes.
When the tarts are cooked, place them in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or until firm. You will find that the finished tarts have a surface that is pocked and somewhat unattractive. Before serving, I like to remove the muffin wrappers and garnish with fan-cut strawberries, thinly sliced limes dusted with sugar or even lime curd.