I learned how to make these mini-cheesecakes when I was 14 years old. The place was Watertown, Massachusetts. And my teacher was a great neighbor and friend, Susan Pallotta.
Since then, these Christmas Cheesecakes have been the hit of all our holiday parties. They’re fun to make and easy to eat. All you have to do is peel off the paper cups and enjoy the mini-cheesecakes.
Btw, let me know if you miss washing the spatula and dessert plates.
Prep time: 35 to 40 minutes
Bake time: 12 to 14 minutes
Makes: 24 mini-cheesecakes
Prepare the Cherry Filling:
One 24.7-ounce jar Trader Joe’s® Dark Morello Cherries in Light Syrup
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1. In a 3-quart sauce pot set on a counter, stir together the dark cherries with the syrup and the sugar. Set aside on counter.
2. In a 2-cup bowl, mix together the cornstarch and the water.
3. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir the cornstarch-water mixture into the cherry mixture in sauce pot.
4. Set the sauce pot on a burner and bring the cherry mixture to a boil. Cook on medium-high heat and stir with a wooden spoon until mixture boils.
5. As soon as the cherry mixture comes to a boil, lower the heat to medium. Cook and stir until cherry filling begins to thicken. This will take 25 to 50 seconds.
6. When the cherry filling has thickened, gently transfer it to a glass or porcelain bowl. Cover the bowl and set it aside so that the cherry filling has time to cool.
Meanwhile, make the crust:
Prepare the Crust:
24 holiday muffin paper cups
1 cup graham cracker crumbs or animal cracker crumbs (ground in a food processor)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sunflower or safflower oil
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Divide the paper cups among two muffin baking pans (each one should hold 12 paper cups). Set aside.
3. In a shallow bowl and using a fork, mix together the crumbs, cinnamon and either butter or oil.
4. When mixture is uniform, using a teaspoon, put some crumb mixture into each paper cup.
5. Using the back of an espresso spoon or small teaspoon, press down, into the crumb mixture.
6. Set the muffin pans with paper cups aside while you prepare cheesecakes.
Prepare the Cheesecakes:
Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3 large eggs
1/2 cup regular or natural cane (unbleached) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. In a 4-quart mixing bowl or in a stand mixer fitted with a bowl, beat together the above ingredients on high speed until mixture is creamy and smooth.
2. Drop 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture over the crumb mixture in paper cups.
3. Set each muffin pan on its own rack in oven.
4. Bake the cheesecakes for 6 to 7 minutes.
5. After 6 to 7 minutes, invert the muffin pans.
6. Bake the cheesecakes for an additional 6 to 8 minutes or until tops look puffed and slightly crack.
7. After baking the cheesecakes, set them IN MUFFIN PANS on a counter to cool completely.
8. When the cheesecakes have cooled completely, lift them out of the muffin pans. To avoid crushing the still-soft cheesecakes, use both hands to grab the paper cups and lift them out.
9. Carefully set the cheesecakes on a serving platter. Cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
10. As soon as the cherry filling has cooled to room temperature, set it in an airtight container. Refrigerate the cherry filling until the cheesecakes are ready to be served.
11. About 2 hours before serving cheesecakes, place 3 cherries on top of each one. Carefully cover the cheesecake platter with aluminum foil and refrigerate.
12. At serving time, remove the aluminum foil and set the cheesecakes on a table.
Note: The cheesecakes and cherry filling can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated.
Text and Photograph ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real