So, I wasn’t expecting to expand my cookbook shelf so soon, but as I was perusing Barnes & Noble for a couple copies of Goodnight Moon for a couple of couples I know who are expecting (it’s my most favorite children’s book ever, so it’s one of my go to gifts), I figured I would check out the cookbook section, not really planning on finding anything. Well, that did not turn out to be the case…Barnes & Noble currently has a GREAT sale on Small Victories: Recipes, Advice + Hundreds of Ideas for Home Cooking Triumphs (as shown) for 50% OFF! Yes, 50% off, or rather 60% off if you are part of the B&N Member Program (like Mama Sully is)! So how could I not jump at this amazing deal? Simple, I couldn’t, so I didn’t! Ta-da! The sale is still going on now (as of February 10th!) so if you’ve also got this on your to read/buy list, GO GO GO! I have not had the chance to peruse it yet, but I’m very excited to!
However, this week’s baking challenge was cheesecake! Now, I know not many people like cheesecake (Frankie being one of them), but I happen to adore them, especially ones made for our monthly office birthday celebration by one of my coworkers! She makes all sorts of delicious flavors and they’re always gluten-free, which makes these cheesecakes even more incredible! So of course, when I decided I wanted to make my own in mini (because I don’t have a spring form pan yet, and since Frankie isn’t a fan, it would just be me eating the whole thing unless I brought it into work), I picked her brain a little before I even attempted to make it!
Important thing #1: Put a pan of water in the oven while it preheats and during the baking process! My coworker said that this will keep the oven humid and prevent cracking (which for small bites, was not likely to happen, but for future reference as well when baking a big one)! And important thing #2: Get the eggs & cream cheese to room temperature (you can even heat up the cream cheese for about 10-15 seconds), which also helps prevent cracking and makes the blending easier.
And this was so easy! Like…way too easy! As in, watch me make this again and try some additional modifications to make them even more delicious! So if you’re looking for something delicious and easy, TA-DA! Look no further! Enjoy my fellow bakers and munchers! Cooking Maggie Out!
Revision 2/13/2017: Upon further conference with my cheesecake guru at work, she made mention the following tips. 1) Add your eggs in one at a time, and mix at the lowest settings. And 2) If you want a creamier cheesecake, use 1/4 cup sour cream per 8oz cream cheese, OR 1/8 cup heavy cream per 8oz cream cheese. These additions will be reflected below.
Revision 6/7/2017: And upon further reading and munching, you can also turn this recipe into no bake by first removing the eggs, and then swap out the 1/2 cup regular sugar for 1 cup powdered sugar and add 1/2 cup sour cream and 3/4 cup heavy cream, and you can add a tablespoon of regular sugar to the crust, but this is optional [tested and approved by my friend Ms. Carly Jo! She even brought me some and boy are they creamy and tasty!]
Creamy Mini Cheesecakes
For Graham Cracker Crust
- 1 Cup Graham Cracker crumbs
- 4 tablespoons butter, softened
- 16 ounces cream cheese (2 bricks), softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or more to taste)
- 1 bunch fresh strawberries
- Optional: 1/2 cup sour cream OR 1/4 cup heavy cream (if you want a creamier cheesecake)
- Prior to Baking: let eggs and cream cheese sit on counter to get to room temperature for 1-2 hours, OR eat cream cheese up in microwave for 10-15 seconds.
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Place a pan with water in the over during the preheating and backing process.
- Add cupcake liners to cupcake/muffin tin. Place graham crackers in a food processor and pulse/blend into a fine crumb. Mix crumbs with softened butter, blending with a fork or cut the crust with your fingers (which is just a fancy way of rubbing the crackers and butter together between your fingers). Set aside.
- Blend cream cheese in a medium-sized bowl, mix until soft and creamy. (You can use a fork or an electric mixer on low.)
- Add eggs (ONE AT A TIME) and sugar, (and sour cream/cream if using), and mix on the lowest setting until well combined. Add vanilla and mix for 3-5 minutes until creamy and soft. (Note: if using an electric mixer, mix for only 1-2 minutes.)
- Add 1-1 1/2 tablespoon of graham cracker crust mixture to the bottoms of each cupcake liner, pressing firmly with spoon or finger until firm and level. Then add about 2 large tablespoons of cheesecake batter, distributing any remaining. (There should be enough of both mixtures to make exactly 12 mini cheesecakes.)
- Place the cupcakes in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes.
- Remove the top of strawberries, and either halve or slice them (making sure there are enough for 12), then set on top of cheesecakes for garnish.
- Allow cheesecakes to chill before serving.