Asked to bring a dessert to the very last of the summer BBQs, I was, to put it mildly, sick and tired of the stuff I’d been making all season (Nutella Rice Krispies, Stuffed Strawberries, etc.). So when Mom said she’d been watching Rachael Ray and Paula Deen make Mini Cheesecakes that looked delicious and cute, I knew I’d have to give them a try.
The recipe that follows is taken from several different websites. Apparently Rachael & Paula were making individual cheesecakes, as in regular muffin-sized cakes. I wanted the minis because they’d work better for a large group and I found a few recipes online that all gave the same recipe, more or less. I combined them (along with the helpful comments of other cooks who’d made them) and ended up with this:
Makes about 32
2 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese, soft
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Nabisco Nilla wafers
Cherry pie filling (and/or blueberry pie filling, raspberry jam, strawberry jam, etc.)
Foil cupcake baking cups
Beat the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, vanilla and lemon juice with an electric mixer. Make sure that before you begin your cream cheese is soft – if it isn’t, pop it in the microwave on half power for a minute or two (um, remember to take it out of its silver foil too before microwaving!). This won’t work with cold cream cheese . Make sure to keep beating the mixture until there are NO lumps – this took me about 4 minutes to achieve.
Line each muffin cup with a foil liner. Reynolds makes them, found in the cake baking aisle, and discard the paper lining that comes with them. Place a Nilla wafer on the bottom of each foil, flat side down/curved side up. Using a large spoon fill each foil cup about 2/3 full. Bake at 375 degrees for 17 minutes exactly.
Allow the cheesecakes to cool, it won’t take very long. They will deflate within seconds of removing them from the oven. After about 20 minutes, remove them from the muffin pan – I found that using a pair of tweezers to grasp the edge of the foil liner made this much easier.
Now they’re ready to get their topping: a cherry from the pie filling, a trio of blueberries from the pie filling, or a dollop of your favorite jam (add a little water to loosen the jam up) – whatever you fancy. For this round I used cherry, blueberry and raspberry to see what would taste best (hint: not blueberry for my focus group).
Chill before serving, they definitely taste better chilled. If bringing to a party, you can throw these into a long casserole dish & cover with tin foil for easy portage.A note about the pan: choose a mini-muffin pan that has muffin holes with a 1-5/8″ bottom. There are smaller ones out there but the Nilla wafers will be too big for the smaller tins. If you already own a smaller tin, don’t rush out to buy a new one. Simply put a bunch of Nilla wafers into a ziploc, beat with a mallet to crush them, then sprinkle them on the bottom of the foil liner. They’ll still form a crust once the cheese mixture is added. Enjoy!