Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mini Cheesecakes

I am a proud mom and wife today!  We took our two oldest children to their first piano recital and had quite the morning.  Daddy and son rocked their duet performance.  Funny how all those years of piano lessons have come full circle.  Who knew that we would be playing piano duets with our children? My son had a great time and told us that he wasn't nervous at all... he was with his Daddy.  What a precious moment. 

My beautiful 4-year old daughter looked like a little China doll in her pretty pale pink, polka-dot dress. Our Mother and Daughter duet stole the show...without playing a single note!  My little doll was struck with stage fright.  Her eyes were as big as saucers when she saw the huge hall, the grand piano and all those people in the audience.  We managed to get to the stage and sit at the piano, but she shut down and could not play her song.  Ironically, she was the one who wanted to perform, not me!  Maybe in the future, I will be able play the duet with my daughter when she is ready.  

To celebrate such a great performance, I made mini cheesecakes with a raspberry topping.  I normally use canned cherry pie filling, but I had some frozen raspberries to use up.  This easy recipe has been a family favourite for almost 10 years!

One batch makes 48 mini muffin-sized or 12 regular muffin-sized cheesecakes.  I only had enough ingredients to make a half batch or 24 mini cheesecakes with my mini-muffin pan.  

I used paper liners about 1.25" in size for the mini cupcake pan.  Pretty small!  

Instead of Nilla wafers, I tried Digestive biscuits.  I normally use animal crackers, graham cracker or Oreo cookie crumbs.

I put 3-4 broken up biscuits into my mini food processor.  Gave it a whirl to make about 1/2 cup of crumbs.   I used my fingers to break up some of the bigger chunks.  This step can be skipped if you use graham cracker or Oreo cookie crumbs.

Use only 1/2 tsp. crumbs for a mini-muffin pan.  The bottom crust would get very crumbly if too much is used.  

I softened the cream cheese at room temperature for an hour, but I wasn't sure if it was soft enough, so I warmed it in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.  The slightly warmed cream cheese mixes better with the sugar, egg and vanilla for a smooth, lump-free batter.

The batter was pretty runny.  I found it easier and quicker to use a mini-ice cream scoop to fill each cavity. 

Bake at 350F for 15 minutes.  The cheesecakes puffed up and had a few cracks.  They were were easily hidden with some fruit topping!

Mini Cheesecakes

Makes 48 mini or 12 regular muffin-sized cheesecakes

1 (12 ounce) package vanilla wafers, animal crackers, graham cracker crumbs or other sweet biscuits
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling, or 1/2 cup thawed frozen berries with 1-2 tsp sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line miniature muffin tins with miniature paper liners. 

Crush the vanilla wafers or sweet biscuits, and place 1/2 teaspoon of the crushed cookie crumbs into each paper cup. 

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. Fill each miniature muffin liner with this mixture, almost to the top. 

Bake for 15 minutes. Cool. Top with a teaspoonful of fruit filling of your choice. 

I'm happy.  The children proclaimed that they were "SOOOO GOOOOD".  


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