Mini Cheesecakes

I've been playing with my recipe for small-batch cheesecakes for probably a decade. The gracious thing about mini cheesecakes in muffin cups is that you can't really over-do it. Especially when you're only making a small batch. This recipe makes just four mini cheesecakes with graham cracker crusts. Two mini cheesecake cupcakes for you, two mini cheesecake cupcakes for me, and then none for tomorrow when we should get back to our diets.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 8 hr 35 min (includes chilling time)
  • Active: 15 min
  • Yield: 4 mini cheesecakes or 2 servings
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Ingredients

3 sheets graham crackers

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

5 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 large egg

1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon coconut oil

6 strawberries, for serving

Directions

Special equipment:
1/2-inch heart-shaped pie crust cutter
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Add the graham crackers to a food processor and pulse a few times to break up the crackers. Add the melted butter and pulse until the mixture is finely ground and resembles wet sand, with no large pieces remaining. (Alternatively, you can crush the graham crackers in a resealable bag with a rolling pin. Pour the crumbs into a bowl and stir in the melted butter to combine.)
  3. Line 4 cups in a muffin tin with paper liners. Divide the graham cracker mixture evenly between the cups. Use a small shot glass or the end of a wooden spoon to press the crumbs firmly into an even crust. Set aside.
  4. Beat the cream cheese and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the lemon juice and vanilla and beat on medium speed until completely combined, about 30 seconds. Remove the bowl from the stand and stir the egg in by hand (do not use a mixer for this step).
  5. Divide the batter among the cups and tap the tin on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake for 20 minutes, then let the cheesecakes cool near the oven--no drastic temperature changes. Chill the cheesecakes overnight, covered, in the fridge.
  6. Before serving, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a double boiler or a heat-proof bowl fitted over a small saucepan of simmering water. (Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave on low in 20-second intervals, stirring between each.)
  7. To make the strawberry hearts, slice 2 to 3 planks off each strawberry and use a 1/2-inch heart-shaped pie crust cutter to cut out hearts from each plank. Reserve the rest of the berry for another use.
  8. Decorate each cheesecake with 2 teaspoons melted chocolate and sprinkle the hearts on the cheesecakes like you own the place.

Cook’s Note

If you're using graham cracker crumbs from the box, you will need 1/2 cup crumbs. After baking, let these babes cool near the oven. Crack the door and let the heat from the oven escape near the cheesecakes. In my experience, temperature extremes cause more cracks in cheesecakes than over-baking them. A gentle, even cooling situation will help you out here. When you add the egg, just stir it in with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon. Beating the egg with the hand mixer can over-inflate the batter, causing it to puff in the oven. What comes up must come down, and often that will lead to cracks. Don't do it! Use the rest of the strawberry in a smoothie. (You can toss the strawberry remnants in a freezer bag for later smoothies, too.) If you have any leftover strawberry hearts, float them in a cocktail.

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