A pint-sized indulgence that’s full of flavour!
I love cheesecake but rarely make it unless we are having a party, because if it’s in the fridge, I’m going to keep nibbling till it’s all gone. My solution now is to make these miniature cheesecakes which are rich and satisfying, but in a smaller portion size. I use mini cheesecake pans with removable bottoms (mine are 2 1/2 inches or 6.25 cm in diameter) but paper-lined muffin tins will work well also. You’ll note I have a bit of a unique method in that I don’t put a crust in the mini cheesecake pans – instead, I bake the cakes without a crust then when cooked and cooled, I perch them on top of chewy ginger cookies which can be trimmed to size if needed. I find this so much easier than fussing with crust but if you don’t have mini pans with removable bottoms you may prefer to make a traditional cheesecake crust; I`ve provided a recipe below. We love them with salted caramel sauce (recipe below) but they would be equally delicious with whatever cheesecake topping you prefer. Note that you can make the cheesecakes gluten-free if you wish, and perch them on your favourite gluten-free cookie too!
For the optional crust:
- 1/2 cup crushed ginger cookies
- 5 teaspoons butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
- 1/2 pound (225 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) vanilla
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) sour cream
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) all-purpose flour (or 3/4 tsp / 3.5 mL) cornstarch, for a gluten-free version)
- pinch salt
- chewy ginger or oatmeal cookies
For the salted caramel sauce:
- 3/4 cup (185 mL) white sugar
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) water
- 1 cup (250 mL) heavy (35%) cream
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) good salt (Maldon, fleur de sel, etc.)
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
- If making the crust, preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl, combine the cookie crumbs and melted butter. Press the mixture into the bottom of six paper-lined muffin tins or eight well-greased 2 1/2 inch mini cheesecake pans. Bake in preheated oven for 7 minutes then let cool while you make the filling.
- Reduce oven heat to 325F. In a medium-sized bowl, beat the softened cream cheese with an electric mixer. Add the vanilla, egg and sour cream and beat again. Combine the sugar, flour and salt in a small bowl then slowly add to the cream cheese mixture, with the beaters running. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat for 30 seconds more. Don’t worry if the mixture has a few lumps; they will smooth out during baking.
- If making the cheesecakes without the crust, grease the 8 mini pans now (or line 6 muffin tins with papers) and divide the cheesecake batter evenly among the pans. I find a small cookie dough scoop is convenient for this. Place the mini pans on a baking tray (no need if using a muffin tin) and put into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, or until tops are just beginning to crack. Let cool at room temperature for 25 minutes, then refrigerate for up to 48 hours.
- While cheesecake cools, make the salted caramel sauce. Put sugar and water in a small saucepan or skillet, preferably one with a heavy bottom. Melt sugar over medium heat, swirling pan occasionally so sugar heats evenly. Pay close attention and don’t let the sugar get darker than a medium amber colour.
- When it reaches this state, add the cream. Be careful as the mixture will bubble and spatter. The caramel may also seize (harden slightly) but it will re-melt as you cook in the cream. Over medium heat, cook the caramel sauce, stirring often, until it is smooth and any hard bits have melted. Remove from heat and stir in sea salt and vanilla. Pour into a clean heatproof canning jar or measuring cup and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until serving time. Extra sauce can be used on ice cream, cakes, yogurt and more.
- To assemble, remove cheesecakes from pans and perch on top of cookies, if using. If caramel sauce is too thick to drizzle, heat it for just a few seconds at a time in the microwave or a bowl of very hot water. Drizzle cheesecakes with sauce and serve.
Makes 6 – 8 mini cheesecakes.