Before we get to the land of perfectly chocolate-glazed mini cheesecakes with heart strawberry cut-outs, we have to start at the beginning.
We all love cheesecake. We can all over-do it on cheesecake. I’ve been playing with my recipe for small batch cheesecake made in muffin cups for probably a decade. To be exact–since the time my roommate in college made these by dropping in a nilla wafer instead of bothering with a crust. (I went to college before Pinterest existed, and yes, I am so very old).
The gracious thing about mini cheesecakes in muffin cups is that you can’t really over-do it. Especially when you’re only making a small batch. This recipe makes just 4 mini cheesecakes. Two for you, two for me, and then none for tomorrow when we should get back to our January diets.
I’m going to be picky about a few things:
-Make sure your oven is at 325 instead of 350.
-After baking, let these babes cool near the oven. Crack the door and let the heat from the oven escape near the cheesecakes. In my experience, temperature extremes cause more cracks in cheesecakes than over-baking them. A gentle, even cooling situation will help you out here. But I mean, seriously: we’re going to slather them in chocolate, and shower them with strawberry hearts. If they crack on you, proceed with full steam ahead.
-Use a hand mixer to beat together all of the ingredients BEFORE you add the egg. When you add the egg, just stir it in with a spatula or wooden spoon. Beating the egg with the hand mixer can over-inflate the batter and contribute to cracked cheesecakes. Don’t do it!
I baked these, let them cool on the counter all afternoon, and then refrigerated overnight. The next day, I added a spoonful of melted chocolate and set about cutting out hearts from strawberries. It’s not as onerous as it looks: I used a mini pie crust vent cutter in the shape of the heart (the exact same one I used for the cover shot of my cookbook Sweet & Simple). Just cut 4 little planks from each strawberry, cut out a cute heart, and then use the rest of the strawberry in a smoothie.
If you have any leftover strawberry hearts, float them in a cocktail. I just might have done that tonight, and I just might take photos next time and share that with you.
If this doesn’t say ‘be my Valentine,’ then I’m all out of ideas.
I’d marry you if you made me these.
Go on, give it a shot.
Yields 4 mini cheesecakes
Small batch mini cheesecakes for two.
15 minPrep Time
20 minCook Time
35 minTotal Time
- 1/2 cup crushed graham crackers (about 3 sheets)
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- Preheat the oven to 325, and line 4 cups in a muffin pan with paper liners.
- In a small bowl, stir together the crushed graham crackers and melted butter. Divide between the 4 paper liners, pressing flat with a shot glass or wine cork.
- In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice. Beat very well until combined.
- Stir the egg in by hand (do not use a mixer for this step).
- Divide the batter between the cups, and bake for 20 minutes.
- Let the cheesecakes cool near the oven--no drastic temperature changes.
- Chill the cheesecakes overnight, covered in the fridge.
- Before serving, melt the chocolate and coconut oil either in a double boiler, or in the microwave in 20-second pulses, stirring each time.
- To make strawberry hearts, use a 1/2" tiny heart pie crust cookie cutter. Slice 2-3 planks off each strawberry, and cut out a heart from each. Reserve the rest of the berry of another use (smoothie time!).
- Decorate each cheesecake with a spoonful of melted chocolate, and sprinkle the hearts on top. Cute!