When I found this absolutely charming idea for a Christmas dessert, I knew that I had to make them. Even if we were already eating chocolate soufflé for dessert, we needed them on our table, too! I pondered long and hard about what to do about the Oreo cookies that it calls for. There are gluten-free oreo imitations available for sale in most supermarkets that I frequent, but I am not a fan of throwing away food and the filling of the cookies would have ended up in the trash. So I thought about mixing in some cocoa into the gluten-free butter cookies that I usually use for the crust. I thought this might not be the smartest idea I may have ever had.

I asked around the celiac forums and a couple of people suggested making my own chocolate cookies. I had bought the cocoa and everything, and was ready to make chocolate cookies similar to Oreo, but then got lazy. And I started questioning just how exciting and adventurous my gluten-free vegetarian Christmas Eve menu would be if I served two desserts containing chocolate. Not very, I concluded.

Thus, at the last minute I decided to simply make my Smallest and Mightiest and Cheesecake in the World recipe.

I baked the crust and the cheesecake filling separately the day before Christmas eve. I had to make some adjustments in the ingredients for the cheesecake filling, using a bit of whipping cream, almost double the amount of quark and no sour cream. The result was incredibly fluffy and very nice. The crust of the mini cheesecakes (I ended up with nine, I baked them in a muffin form, each lined with a small rectangle of baking parchment) were very thick and very hard. I thus do not suggest baking the crust and the cheesecake filling separately, because they benefit from each other. The filling helps humidify the crust and the crust helps the filling stay fluffy by soaking up any excess humidity. Yeah, cooking *is* kind of like science! 😉

The next day, I used a cake ring to cut out the cheese filling and then proceeded with the instructions as suggested. I ended up with about half of cheesecake filling left over though. It wasn’t a big deal, my father-in-law has a sweet tooth and he can never have too much cake in the house, but if you’re not that keen on having left overs I suggest the following: either end up with about twenty of these Mini Cheesecakes (which I suggest you do, I only had one of these and I’m a bit sad that I did not have more) or only make half the cheesecake recipe. I assume that baking the cheesecake can be done the day before serving the dessert, as long as you ensure to keep the cheesecake covered and in a cool environment that is not the fridge. Your cheesecake will taste like fridge if you keep it there. Been there, done that, not trying it again!

Bake the cheesecake in a rectangular or square baking dish lined with baking parchment (both crust and form together like you would regularly). Have twenty to twenty five very nice, very large and very red strawberries on hand, which you should wash and pat dry. Then cut off the leaves in a very straight line, thus ensuring that the strawberries can stand firmly on the whipped cream once you place them there.

Other than that, you will need:
100 to 200ml whipping cream (some may be left over)
1 to  tbsp. sugar
powdered sugar (for decoration)
a cake ring (for cutting out the Mini-Cheesecakes)

How to assemble your Santa Hat Mini Cheesecakes:

Cut the small cheesecakes out of the baking dish with the help of a cake ring.

Whip up the cream and the sugar. Top each mini cheesecake with a generous dollop of whipped cream. Place a strawberry on top of each cheesecake and then add a small tip of cream onto each strawberry, completing Santa’s hat. Sift a bit of powdered sugar onto each Santa Hat Mini Cheesecake and serve.Mini Cheesecakes with Santa Hats klkl

This recipe concludes the 2013 Vegetarian and Gluten-Free Christmas Eve Series. Yes, I know. There is one recipe missing: the pistacchio-covered feta-cheeseballs. Well, it turns out that they weren’t very good. At least not as cheeseballs. They were too fatty, too rich and too heavy on their own. I will be bringing them back though: as a great dip to eat with your raw vegetables or some crackers. But before then, we are going to get into a great mood for the last day of this year: with some baguette.

I hope you are excited. Because I certainly am!

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