Oh yeah, baby.  Yes, I made it and you better believe I ate the bulk of it.  There simply isn’t anything more perfect than this little slugger.  To think, just 6 months ago I didn’t know that any combination of ingredients could give birth to this outrageously decadent dessert.  Just some time ago, everyone on facebook was raving about Cheesecake Factory’s Red Velvet Cheesecake.  Red Velvet Cheesecake–I don’t think any other combination of words could trigger my salivary glands (well…except for maybe “Ryan Reynolds naked”).  I digress.

To my disappointment, Cheesecake Factory had taken the easy way out.  True Cheesecake? I think not.  I was not looking for a layering of new york cheesecake and red velvet cake.  I was looking for a red velvet flavored cheesecake.

Aside from the richly red color, red velvet has two key ingredients you may otherwise not find in cakes–chocolate and vinegar. While I knew I was going to incorporate those ingredients into a cheesecake recipe, I was a bit weary of doing it blindly.  After some research, I came across a fantastic recipe.

I opted to make little cheesecake cups, but you can certainly make a traditional size using a spring-form pan.

And…well…oh my goodness…oh my goodness…and the recipe makes approximately 24 of these bad boys.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cups

Crust:
1 1/2 cups of finely ground Oreos
1/4 cup of butter, melted
1 tbsp granulated sugar
Cheesecake:
3- 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs lightly beaten
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp distilled white vinegar
enough red dye to turn batter red–I personally wasn’t too keen on using that much food  coloring, so I eyeballed it.
Frosting:
4 ounces of cream cheese, softened.
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3/4-1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Topping (optional):
1 1/2 cup diced strawberries
2-3 tsp sugar (depending on how sweet your strawberries are)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Crust: Stir together oreo crumbs, melted butter, and 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar.  Crumb mixture should be moist to the touch.  Add about 1 tbsp of mixture into lined cupcake pan.  Press down mixture until firm.

Prepare filling: Beat cream cheese and sugar at medium-low speed with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Add eggs, cocoa, sour cream, vanilla extract, buttermilk, vinegar, and food coloring, mixing on low speed just until fully combined. Pour batter into prepared crust.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the center is set.  While most of edge should be firm, the middle should have a should have a slight jiggle.  Remove from oven and let sit in muffin pans for 5 minutes.  Using a large spoon, carefully remove cheesecake from muffin pan and let cool on a rack until the cheesecake becomes close to room temperature. Cover and chill for at least 6 hours (or overnight).

Prepare frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth. Spread evenly on top of cheesecake.

Topping: Combine diced strawberries and sugar in a bowl.  Cover until ready to serve cheesecake.  Once ready to serve, top cheesecake with spoonful of diced strawberries.  Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Adapted from Southern Living

–Some Tips–

You do not want the cheesecake to crack–you’ll end up with a denser, drier cheesecake if this happens. Use a large spoon to remove cheesecake out of the muffin pan carefully; otherwise, you’ll get dents in the side of your cheesecake.

***Please note that I have modified the original baking directions since I am not making a full sized cheesecake.  Baking times and directions will be different if you choose to do it that way, sheerly due to the volume.  If you choose to do a full sized one, please refer to the original recipe.  Also, adjust baking times for your particular oven.

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