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Two countries, two law degrees, two bar licensures, two more years to make it happen; but first, while waiting for classes for law degree number two to commence, a little something from the kitchen. I love to bake, but on my many travels, and now living in France, it has always been a challenge from country to country to find the proper ingredients. Why, for a country with so many varieties of cheese, is it practically impossible to locate Philadelphia cream cheese in France? Or when you do, why does it cost so bloody much? I have, accordingly, spent a considerable amount of time adapting U.S. recipes for French kitchens (and student budgets).
Here is a quick little something to try out if you find yourself on this side of the pond longing for a taste of home. Though American baked goods have grown in popularity over here, and you can find many stores in Paris purportedly selling muffins, cupcakes with butter cream frosting, chocolate chip cookies, cheesecake, etc., none have ever tasted authentic to me. As a connoisseur of all things sweet, this has forced me to take matters into my own hands.
Last weekend I was invited to dinner by friends out in the banlieue, the peaceful Paris suburb of Conflans Sainte Honorine. Not wanting to arrive empty-handed, especially because these are the folks I lived with during my first stay in France back from January to June 2009 when I was studying at the Université de Cergy Pontoise, I whipped up a batch of the following, and they were a hit. If I can make it here, in my tiny Paris closet-sized kitchen (actually my closet is larger than my kitchen), you really can make these bite-sized beauties anywhere.
An American Cheesecake in Paris
Yield: Approximately 10-12 mini cheesecakes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
100 g Oreo cookies
40 g melted butter
250 g ricotta
125 g St. Môret cheese (do NOT substitute anything else!)
60 g sugar
2 large eggs
3 drops vanilla extract
- Preheat your oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
- Put the Oreos in a plastic bag and smash them up into little crumbs. Dump these crumbs into a bowl and mix in the melted butter to make a muddy glop.
- Amply butter up the bottoms and insides of your muffin tins. Plop down a spoon full of the muddy Oreo-butter glop to cover the bottom of each muffin cup, and press this mix down with your fingers to mold it into the side of each cup. Put these cups in the fridge to chill out while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
- In another bowl, vigorously beat together the ricotta, St. Môret cheese, and sugar. Set this aside.
- In yet another bowl, mix together the juice of one lemon, the eggs, and the vanilla extract. Then, thoroughly mix this into the cheese-sugar mixture.
- Next, take the Oreo crusts out of the fridge, and spoon the filling mixture over to cover the Oreo crusts and fill up the cups.
- Put the muffin tins into the oven for approximately 1 hour, or until cooked through and solid. Keep an eye on them, as cooking time will vary between ovens.
- Remove from the oven, and gently remove from the muffin tins. Then, place in the fridge to chill out and set up overnight.
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