Mini desserts sometimes get a bad rap. They can be seen as gimmicky or as “lesser” than the full-sized originals they replicate. Not so with these mini cheesecakes! They’ll win over anyone on the wrong side of the mini dessert debate.
There’s no compromising the smooth, creamy texture or just-sweet-enough, tangy flavor of the original, and these can be dressed up or down just like any other plain cheesecake. Unlike a hefty whole cheesecake, mini cheesecakes are even easier to make (no water bath needed!), store, travel with, and share.
Anyone who’s made cheesecake before knows that there are certain tricks to making perfect homemade cheesecakes. While not all of these tips are necessary for the mini version, there is some overlap, plus a few exclusive tricks that are helpful to know before you start baking.
- Use room temperature ingredients. Room temperature ingredients (like cream cheese, eggs, and sour cream) ensure the even mixing of the filling for a nice smooth cheesecake.
- Use block cream cheese. It’s important to use solid block cream cheese when making cheesecakes of any size, not the cream cheese that comes in the spreadable tubs. This ensures you have the right texture for the filling—it won’t be too loose and cause sinking.
- Don’t skip the flour. Flour is an ingredient you’ll see in around half of the cheesecake recipes out there, so it might seem optional. These mini cheesecakes are inclined to sink in the center and flour gives the filling the necessary structure to hold itself up and form a nice flat top.
- Don’t overmix the filling. Another safety measure for velvety mini cheesecakes that won’t sink: don’t overmix. You want the filling to have enough time to fully integrate all the ingredients without incorporating too much air. The more air in the filling, the more likely you are to have a sinking, cracking cheesecake.
- Liners for the pan are non-negotiable. Even if you have a nonstick or silicone muffin pan, it is so much easier to remove the delicate cheesecakes without breakage if you use paper or silicone liners. It also makes them easier to take with you and/or store for later, so don’t skip them!
- Let them cool slowly. It’s just as important for mini cheesecakes as it is for larger cheesecakes to make sure they cool super slowly, first in the oven and then on the counter.
The recipe below is a very basic mini cheesecake recipe that you can easily adjust to give it your own spin. Add citrus zest or mini chocolate chips in the filling, swap the graham crackers for other cookies (I like Biscoff, but Oreo cookies without the cream work, too), or add a tiny swirl of jam, Nutella, or lemon curd to the cheesecakes before you bake.
These mini cheesecakes look really cute as they are, both in and out of their liners, but adding some decoration definitely takes them to a new level. Here are some of our favorite ways to top and decorate mini cheesecakes.
Mini cheesecakes, and cheesecakes in general, are a perfect make-ahead dessert because they sort of need to be made ahead. They need to cool slowly and then rest in the fridge to firm up before eating. If you want to prep these even more ahead, perhaps over a few days, here’s how to do it:
- Bake the crusts up to a day in advance. Once they cool, cover loosely with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge. When you’re ready to fill, remove the plastic wrap, let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, and proceed with the recipe.
- After baking and cooling, the mini cheesecakes will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge.
- You can freeze baked mini cheesecakes. Transfer the cheesecakes (in their paper or silicone liners) to a container or resealable freezer bag and place them in the freezer. They will keep for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before serving.
- 3 1/2 ounces (100g) graham crackers (about 6 whole crackers)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (20g) unsalted butter, melted
- 10 1/2 ounces (300g) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 3 1/2 ounces (100g) sour cream (about heaping 1/3 cup), room temperature
- Fresh berries
- Raspberry sauce or jam
- Whipped cream
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Prepare the crust:
Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor until finely ground. Add the sugar, salt, and melted butter and pulse together just until some clumps form, approximately 20 seconds.
If you don’t have a food processor, you can crush the graham crackers by hand. Place them in a heavy-duty plastic freezer bag. Seal the bag and roll over the top with a rolling pin to crush the graham crackers until they are fine crumbs. Transfer to a bowl and mix with the sugar, salt, and melted butter.
- Fill and bake the crust:
Add muffin liners to a standard muffin pan. Distribute the crust evenly among the 12 liners using a tablespoon.
Once all the crust mixture is used up, use a cup or small glass that fits into the muffin tin to press the crust into an even layer in the bottom of the liner (you can also use the back of a spoon or your fingertips). It’s okay if some of the crust comes up the sides a little bit.
Bake until the edges begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Remove and set the muffin tin on a wire rack to cool, then lower the oven temperature to 325°F.
- Prepare the filling:
Add the cream cheese to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix just until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar and flour and beat on low speed until integrated and smooth, about 1 minute.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the salt and vanilla, mixing just until fully incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl and mixing on low speed for 30 seconds after each addition. Add the sour cream and mix on low speed until just incorporated.
If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a hand mixer. Mix on low and be careful not to overmix, or your mini cheesecakes are most likely to crack and/or collapse.
- Fill and bake the mini cheesecakes:
Make sure the crust and baking tin is completely room temperature (if it’s not, wait until it is). Distribute the filling evenly into each muffin liner using a quarter-cup measure. Gently tap the muffin tin on the counter to release any bubbles in the cheesecake filling.
Transfer to the oven and bake for 16 to 20 minutes. As with larger cheesecakes, if you give the tin a little shake, the center should still jiggle slightly while the edges look a bit more set. Turn off the oven, prop open the oven door with a wooden spoon, and let the cheesecakes cool in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Cool and chill:
Remove the tin from the oven and let cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Once cooled to room temperature, pull the mini cheesecakes out of the muffin tin using the liners.
Transfer to a plate or baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or foil, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.
To serve, remove the liners, if desired, and transfer the mini cheesecakes to a plate. Serve as is or with a topping of your choice.
Cooled mini cheesecakes will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days and can easily be slipped into a freezer bag and frozen for up to 3 months. Let frozen cheesecakes thaw overnight in the fridge before serving.
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