Cranberries are one of my favorite parts about winter. So many cranberries, so little time. These cheesecakes were the perfect way to showcase a bit of the tart fruit. I think these mini cheesecakes are my new go-to party dessert. They’re super quick and easy and they are the perfect amount of pretty. These baby cheesecakes won’t crack and won’t brown before they’re cooked through. They’re pretty much impossible to mess up. So, if you’re looking for an easy, stress-free dessert, your search is over! These mini cranberry swirl cheesecakes are the dessert for you. Enjoy! Mini Cranberry Swirl Cheesecakes makes 3 dozen for the cranberry swirl: 1/2 cup cranberries 1/8 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest 1/2 cup water for the crust: 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 6 whole graham cracker sheets) 3 tablespoons butter for the filling: 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature 3/4 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 1/8 teaspoon salt 2 large eggs, room temperature
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a mini cupcake pan with paper liners and set aside.
- Prepare the cranberry sauce: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cranberries, sugar, lemon zest, and water. Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Prepare the crust: In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Stir together until well combined. Spoon a heaping teaspoon of graham cracker crumbs into the bottom of each liner. Press down to pack into a crust; I found a shot glass worked really well for this step. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
- Prepare the filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed or until smooth and fluffy. Mix in the sugar, vanilla, and salt until well combined. Add in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- To assemble the cheescakes: Fill each liner 3/4 of the way with cheesecake filling. Carefully place 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of cranberry sauce on top of the cheescake filling. Swirl the cranberry sauce using a toothpick to create a marbled effect.
- Bake cheesecakes in preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until cheesecake is set.
- Allow cheesecakes to cool in pan on a wire rack. Once cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
adapted from The Baker Chick, originally from Martha Stewart
I love cheesecake. I can’t really pinpoint when or how my love for cheesecake started, but there are two memories I strongly associate with the dessert:
- Back in high school, Mike and I would buy Sara Lee cheesecakes and eat the whole dang thing while watching Family Guy. Yes, a whole cheesecake. Between two people. Oh, how I wish I could still get away with eating like that!
- My sister, a self-proclaimed cheesecake-hater-turned-cheesecake-lover all because of (drum roll please) my cheesecake. I’m convinced that she’s just never had good cheesecake until I made one from scratch.
Part of me regrets ever introducing my sister to the magic of a good cheesecake; she’s always requesting it. I declined more than I care to admit. The stress of a cheesecake was just too much for me sometimes. Yes, I am that weirdo that will stress out to the max over a cheesecake that browned a little too much or cracked just when I thought everything was perfect. I finally gave in over Thanksgiving weekend and made a New York cheesecake for her. This beaut has five (yes, five) bricks of cream cheese in it. Make sure you mix well or you will end up with chunks of cream cheese. I mixed, scraped, mixed, and scraped for a long time and still ended up with some streaks of cream cheese. I blame it on my mixer bowl: it could barely contain the massive amount of filling. (Will someone please convince Mike that I need an industrial mixer in my kitchen?)
If your cheesecake browns a little too much or if it cracks, don’t fret – smother it in a delicious strawberry topping and it will be your little secret. 😉
New York Cheesecake with Strawberry Topping
for the crust:
15 full graham cracker sheets
8 tablespoons butter, melted
for the filling:
5 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
5 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
for the strawberry topping:
1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup water
1/8 – 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced
- Preheat oven to 500°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan and set aside.
- Prepare the crust: Place graham crackers in a food process and pulse into fine crumbs. Combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter in a medium bowl until well combined. Press the crumbs onto the bottom and 2 1/2-inches up the sides of the prepared springform pan. Place pan in freezer until ready to fill.
- Prepare the filling: Place cream cheese, sugar, flour, orange zest and lemon zest in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl. Mix on medium-low speed until smooth. Add eggs and egg yolks one at a time, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Mix in vanilla extract.
- Place springform pan in a shallow baking pan. Pour filling into the crust (it will be very full) and bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 12 minutes, or until puffed. Immediately reduce the temperature to 200°F without opening the oven door and continue baking for an additional hour, or until cheesecake is mostly firm with a slightly wobbly center.
- Run a knife around the top edge of the cheesecake to loosen. Place pan on a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Chill cheesecake, loosely covered, for at least 6 hours.
- Prepare the topping: Combine strawberries, water, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 20 minutes. Mash strawberries with a fork or blend with a stick blender, if desired. Transfer to a covered container and chill until ready to use.
- To serve: Remove side of pan and transfer the cheesecake to a serving plate. Spread topping over the top. Serve immediately or bring to room temperature before serving.
recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine