Very Vanilla Mini Cheesecakes*

Surprise! First yesterday you got a lovely dinner, Crockpot Roast Beef, from Jen at Beantown Baker and today you are getting an amazing dessert from Kelsey at Apple A Day! Make sure and go check out her awesome blog! She has tons of great ideas like these cute little mini cheesecakes! So at this rate, with all these amazing guest bloggers, I am not sure you guys are missing me too much!! But the unpacking of the new kitchen is going well, almost done! Today I will be going food shopping and will be back to trying new recipes this week…so sometime this week you will be back to your regular programming of just me The Novice Chef! :-) But for today, drool over this delicious picture of Kelsey’s Very Vanilla Mini Cheesecakes! I can not wait to make these myself!

Hey there, Novice Chef readers! I’m Kelsey, author of Apple a Day. Your regularly scheduled blogger is busy moving (to a bigger and better kitchen!) right now, but she’ll be back shortly. For now, I hope you enjoy this tasty treat… 

Admit it. It’s happened to you. You get invited to a last-minute dinner party or your husband calls at 3:00 p.m. to let you know guests are coming over…tonight. You pull dinner together with grace and style. No problem. But what to do about dessert? You could go the good ol’ ice cream with macerated fruit route, but you don’t want to. You’re a better cook than that.

Cheesecake would be perfect, but you don’t have the hours it takes to prepare, bake, and set a proper cheesecake. Don’t let that stop you. Nobody said you had to make one big cheesecake. Sure, it looks impressive and pretty, but it just can’t be done in your time frame. So make these delectable mini cheesecakes and serve them with confidence. Go on! Your guests will love them, I promise. They’ll never know they were a last-minute dessert.

Very Vanilla Mini Cheesecakes
adapted from Mary & Sarah Corpening, Bride & Groom First and Forever Cookbook

Ingredients:
For the crust:
1 1/4 c. graham cracker crumbs (from ten 5 x 2 1/2 in. crackers)
1/3 c. sugar
4 TBSP unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
pinch of kosher salt

For the filling:
4 eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 tsp. salt
3 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese at room temperature (I used light)
1 c. sugar
seasonal fresh fruit, for garnish

Directions:

1. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Prepare two twelve-cup muffin pans with foil liners.

2. To make the crust, mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, butter, and salt in a small bowl. Spoon a small amount (about 2 tsp.) into each cup and tamp down with a small glass or measuring cup.

3. Bake for ten minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool for about 15 minutes.

4. Reduce oven to 325 degrees F.

5. To make the filling, combine eggs, vanilla extract, seeds from vanilla bean, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

6. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed until creamy, about one minute.

7. With the mixer running, slowly add the sugar, then stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue beating until light and creamy, about 30 seconds.

8. With the mixer still running, slowly add the egg mixture in three additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Do not overbeat; if too much air is incorporated, the cheesecake may crack.

9. Pour the filling into the muffin cups, filling about 3/4 full.

10. Bake in the oven 18-20 minutes, rotating halfway through. Cheesecakes will still be slightly fluid and will jiggle when moved.

11. Allow cheesecakes to cool completely, then garnish with seasonal fresh fruit of choice. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

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