Cream Cheese Cupcakes
Cream Cheese Cupcakes
March 4, 2013

With snow on the ground, it's hard to believe spring will arrive in 16 days and the last day of March is Easter Sunday.

Bakers, it's time to begin planning your family's Easter dinner, and let's start with the best part first - dessert.

With your family buzzing around on Easter weekend, simple recipes are a must, and cream cheese is a nice little shortcut to delectable. Cream cheese is used in countless recipes from savory to sweet.

Beginning in the mid-18th century, cookbooks began featuring recipes for the making of cream cheese. By the next decade, Philadelphia Cream Cheese had gained its reputation, but the production was still on the small side. At this time cream cheese was produced on family farms. It wasn't until the early 1900s when cream cheese was produced in much larger quantities by American dairymen.

Heavenly Angel Food Cake

2½ cups sugar

1½ cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

2½ cups egg whites

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line bottom and sides of a 13x9-inch pan with aluminum foil, allowing 2 to 3 inches to extend over sides of pan (do not grease pan or foil). Sift together first 3 ingredients.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually fold in sugar mixture, 1/3 cup at a time, folding just until blended after each addition. Fold in vanilla and lemon juice. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

Note: Pan will be very full. The batter will reach almost to the top of the pan.

Bake on an oven rack one-third up from bottom of oven 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Invert cake onto a lightly greased wire rack; let cool, with pan over cake, 1 hour or until completely cool. Remove pan; peel foil off cake. Transfer cake to a serving platter. Spread Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below) evenly over top of cake. Garnish with mint leaves or edible flowers, if desired.

Note: You may also bake this in an ungreased angel food cake pan for 30 to 35 minutes or in 3 ungreased (9-inch) round pans for 15 to 18 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

1½ (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened

¼ cup butter, softened

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1 (16 oz) package powdered sugar

2 teaspoons lemon zest

Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; add lemon juice, beating just until blended. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended; stir in lemon zest.

Philadelphia Vanilla Mousse Cheesecake

This isn't just cheesecake, it's cheesecake topped with a layer of creamy, vanilla mousse.

40 Nilla Wafers, crushed

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

4 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened, divided

1 cup sugar

4 teaspoons vanilla, divided

3 eggs

1 (8 oz) tub Cool Whip, thawed

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix wafer crumbs and butter; press onto bottom of 9-inch Springform pan.

Beat 3 packages cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon vanilla with mixer until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool completely in pan.

Beat remaining cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with mixer in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in Cool Whip; spread over cheesecake. Refrigerate for 4 hours. Remove rim of pan before serving cheesecake.

To serve, slice cheesecake and serve on individual plates. Top each slice with a fresh strawberry.

Cream Cheese Cupcakes

These cupcakes are a perfect centerpiece for your Easter table. Not only do they have a surprise filling, they are topped with colorful berries.

3 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened

1¼ cups sugar, divided

5 eggs

1¾ teaspoons vanilla extract, divided

1 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons jam

fresh berries, for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 24 cups of muffin tins with paper liners. Beat cream cheese with 1 cup sugar and eggs. Add 1½ teaspoons vanilla. Pour batter into muffin liners, two thirds full. Bake for 40 minutes.

To prepare filling mix sour cream, ¼ cup sugar and ¼ teaspoon vanilla. Remove cupcakes from oven. They will fall in the middles. Fill hold with sour cream mixture. Spoon ¼ teaspoon jam on top. Return to oven and bake for 5 minutes. When cool, garnish with fresh berries such as raspberries and blueberries.

Cheesecake and Fruit Dessert Pizza

Make a dessert topped with fresh fruit little ones and adults will love.

1 pkg (18 oz) refrigerated sugar cookie dough

1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese

¼ cup sugar

1 can (11 or 15 oz) mandarin oranges, drained

2 kiwi fruits

fresh raspberries and strawberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Press cookie dough lightly onto 12-inch round greased pizza pan. Bake for 11 to 15 minutes or until light brown. Cool to room temperature.

Beat cream cheese and sugar in medium bowl until smooth and blended. Stir in ½ cup mandarin oranges. Spread over crust. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Artfully arrange kiwi, raspberries and strawberries and remaining mandarin oranges over cream cheese before serving.