Photo: Greg Dupree; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen
We had the greatest success using a pan with 2 1/2-ounce cups, such as Chicago Metallic's 12-Well Mini Cheesecake Pan ($25, chicagometallicbakeware.com). This pan has removable bottoms (similar to a tart pan) so that you simply push each cheesecake up to remove it. You can also bake them in a standard muffin tin; line it with foil liners for easier removal.
Serves 12 (serving size: 1 cheesecake)
1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
2. To prepare crust, weigh or lightly spoon pastry flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine pastry flour, powdered sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch, and 1/8 teaspoon salt; whisk.
3. Place butter, oil, brown sugar, lemon rind, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in a medium bowl; beat with a whisk until well blended. Add flour mixture; whisk just until combined. Mixture will look like damp, coarse sand.
4. Coat a straight-sided mini cheesecake pan with 12 (2 1/2-ounce) cups with cooking spray. Scoop 1 packed tablespoon dough into each well; gently press to form a flat surface on the bottom. Bake until set and lightly golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven; cool 20 minutes.
5. To prepare filling, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar and cheeses in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in sour cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and dash of salt. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add cake flour; blend well. Spoon mixture over crust, filling to the top of each well. Bake 20 minutes or just until set and slightly puffed.
6. To prepare topping, place 4 cups raspberries in a food processor; process until smooth. Strain berry puree through a fine sieve, pressing to extract as much juice and puree as possible. Discard seeds. Combine puree with 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a saucepan over medium-high; bring to a low boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Cook, stirring often, for 2 to 3 minutes. Combine 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water, stirring until smooth. Whisk cornstarch mixture into berry mixture, stirring constantly until beginning to thicken, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Cool 20 minutes.
7. Remove cheesecakes from pan. Top each cheesecake with 1 1/2 tablespoons berry syrup, 3 raspberries, and mint leaves, if desired.