Photo by Cade Schmidt//AS Review

If a food exists that I love as much as bread, it is cheesecake. I discovered cheesecake around the age of 9 after my mom played the, ”you’re not going to like this” trick at a restaurant to keep her dessert from me. I tried it despite her warning and discovered the best dessert in the world, in my opinion.

What I love about cheesecake is the creamy texture, the rich flavors and its ability to transform it with simple ingredients.

By mixing in raspberries and raspberry puree, it becomes raspberry cheesecake. (I also love raspberries, but I’ll save that rant for another column). The pairing of the crust with the filling of the cake brings flavors and textures together that make my taste buds explode with happiness.

Since the fourth grade, I can’t get enough of cheesecake. I forced my mom to make a cheesecake birthday cake for my 11th birthday, something that my less adventurous foodie friends didn’t enjoy. Cheesecake is something most people enjoy now: look at the popularity of The Cheesecake Factory. (If you do go to there, I recommend devouring the white chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake). So, with cheesecake in mind, what could be better than your own personal mini cheesecake?

These little cupcakes are addictive and delicious, and you will want to share them with your friends. I had trouble with ridding myself of cheesecake cupcakes with a full batch (I ate probably half of all the cupcakes), so this recipe is a half batch. If you are up to the challenge of making a full batch, be my guest. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Cook time: 30 minutes
Prep time: about 30 minutes
Servings: 15 to 20, depending on how much filling is used in each cupcake

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
6 graham crackers, crushed
8 oz package cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
2 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and insert cupcake liners into a muffin tin. Combine graham crackers and butter in a small bowl to create the crust. Evenly cover the cupcake liners with the crust mixture (about 1 teaspoon each).

In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, flour, vanilla extract and almond extract. Mix until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine egg whites and cream of tartar. Mix with beaters until eggs are fluffy. Combine egg white mixture and cream cheese mixture.

Fill cupcake liners with batter until three-quarters full and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the edges of cupcakes are puffed and centers are moist. Chill cupcakes in the refrigerator until cool.