I have to be honest. Up until recently I never really saw the appeal of cheesecake. I used to go to get-togethers and someone would bring of those little cheesecake platters of all the tiny slices of different flavors and my friends would descend up on them like they were manna from heaven. And sure, I would eat some because sometimes it was the only dessert, but I never saw the point in going crazy about it. I mean, it’s some sweetened up cream cheese, with some flavors that I generally don’t like such as strawberry or caramel (I know, sacrilege). So I would choose the chocolate one, but it was never chocolate-y enough and it would always leave a kind of sour tangy flavor in my mouth that prefer not to associate with dessert, or really any other food for that matter.
But then I made my own cheesecake. Or more specifically, these mini cheesecake bites. I’m not really sure what possessed me to do so. Perhaps it was the Reese’s cups in the middle. Or maybe because I had a bunch of cream cheese on hand because it had been on sale at the store and I thought “surely I will use that” when I bought it only to be left with coming up with a reason to do so. But I made these mini cheesecakes about this time last year, and oh my goodness. I have been bookmarking cheesecake recipes right and left since then, most notably ones that involve lots of chocolate or sometimes pumpkin (which I hope to get to this fall).
These cheesecakes are what I made for our football party last week, and they are a perfect little dessert for get-togethers because of the cute little compact size. And even though they began with Reese’s, they can so easily be adapted for other flavors, my favorite of which is putting a little spoonful of chocolate chips between the crust layer and the cheesecake layer. I also love that I can make mini-mini cheesecakes, in mini muffin pans, so that they are just perfectly bite-sized. Okay, maybe 2 bites, because if you are like me, you try to make these last as long as possible.
adapted from Paula Deen
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 20 minutes
Wait Time: 8 hours
Makes: 12 mini cheesecakes and 16 mini-mini cheesecakes*
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12-28 bite sized Reese’s cups and/or
1/4-1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin pans with paper liners. (Cooking spray can also be used if you don’t have paper liners on hand, but the edges of the cheesecake will be a bit browned which you may find unsightly, and the crust on some of them might crumble a bit.)
2. To make the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, 4 tablespoons of sugar, sugar, and melted butter in a medium sized bowl, stirring together until crumbs are moistened. Press about 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of crust into the bottom of each muffin cup (or about 1 tablespoon in the bottom of the mini muffin cups). Set aside.
3. To make the cheesecake filling, beat cream cheese in a large bowl until fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add sugar, beating 1-2 more minutes. Add flour and vanilla, mixing until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until each egg is fully incorporated. Set filling aside.
4. Add desired flavorings to the muffin cups. For Reese’s cup cheesecakes, place 1 Reese’s cup in the center of the cup on top of the crust. For chocolate chip cheesecakes, sprinkle 1 or 2 teaspoons of mini chocolate chips over the top of the crust.
5. Spoon cheesecake filling into each muffin cup, filling them about 3/4 of the way.
6. Bake just until set, about 20 minutes (or 15 minutes for mini-mini cheesecakes).
7. Chill in the refrigerator before serving, about 8 hours (these are really best made the day before). Serve chilled.
*Or you can make all mini cheesecakes or all mini-mini cheesecakes. Whatever combination works for you, of course.