Sunday, January 6, 2019

Festive Mini Cheesecakes

I still am coming to terms that it's 2019. It seems like the past couple of months have been a blur! Over the holiday season, I normally help my mom bake our signature cookies - everything from firm and crunchy anise cookies to soft and sugar-dusted snowballs. Since it's only Lewis and I this year, I had a hankering, neigh, I NEEDED cheesecake. It was a desire that had to be fulfilled.

Instead of making an entire cheesecake which I would most likely consume 50% of within the first hour, I decided to make more portion-controllable (is that a word?) cupcake versions. I love this recipe because instead of having to bother with graham cracker crumbs to make teeny tiny crusts, I just use a Nilla wafer. These are very flexible decoration-wise as well. I have made these topped with blueberries and slice of strawberry for a 4th of July Party and they were a hit!

For the cheesecake...

2 – 8oz packages cream cheese – softened (I used one Greek Yogurt cream cheese to cut down on fat)
1/4 cup sugar (if you prefer a sweeter cheesecake, you can add up to a half cup sugar)
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs – room temperature
¼ cup sour cream – room temperature
Pinch of salt

For the crust...
Nilla wafer cookies placed on the bottom of each cupcake (flat side down)

For the topping...
1 cup heavy cream
2 heaping TBS of confectionary sugar (or just add sugar to taste)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Your choice of fresh raspberries or strawberries

Whip cream on high until it begins to thicken. Add vanilla and sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a pastry bag with star tip.


For the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 325°F and place the rack in the center position. Line a muffin tin with 12 liners and place one cookie flat side down in each. Set aside.

2. Place the softened cream cheese in a large bowl and beat on medium-low with a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until creamy and smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Add sugar, salt, and vanilla. Mix until thoroughly combined, with the mixer on medium-low. Scrape the bowl and paddle, as needed.

3. Add the eggs, one at a time, with the mixer on low, beating well after each addition. Scrape as needed. Add the sour cream and mix until incorporated. Give the bowl one last scrape to be sure the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

4. Spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin tins over the crust. I use an ice cream scoop. Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until centers are almost set. The cheesecakes will rise during baking and are likely to crack a bit. Remove from the oven and set on a rack to cool completely.

5. Chill the cheesecakes in the muffin tin for at least 2 hours or overnight, before removing from the tin and topping. Note: When the cheesecakes are removed from the oven the centers will begin to sink, but this expected and provides the perfect space for the topping.

6. Remove chilled cheesecakes from liners, if desired and top each cupcake with whipped cream, fruit, then more whipped cream. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Notes: If the cheesecakes have been removed from the liners and are allowed to sit on a plate in the fridge for hours, the crust may begin to soften. I’ve found the crust stays crisp much longer in the liner.

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