Recently, I made a TON of desserts—literally enough for a couple hundred people, when we “only” had 23 guests. I think there’s something really fun about having a big selection of desserts to choose from.
One of the desserts I made was mini cherry cheesecakes. I made a shortbread crust, topped them with cherry pie filling, and garnished them with piped whipped cream. Each cheesecake was 3-inches in diameter. To me, that is the perfect size—not too big or too small. My recipe makes around 15-16 individual-sized 3-inch cheesecakes.
MINI CHERRY CHEESECAKES
1 cup unsalted butter
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups white flour (all-purpose or unbleached)
Cream butter and sugar together. Add egg yolks and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Blend in flour. Refrigerate about 30-45 minutes to firm up dough. Lightly grease the bottoms of the pans with unsalted butter. Press about half of the dough onto the bottoms of the cheesecake pans (so that the crust is about 1/8 to 3/16 inch thick). Bake crusts in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes—until crusts are starting to turn golden brown around the edges. Remove from oven and let cool. When cool, lightly grease the sides of the cheesecake pans with unsalted butter. Press the remaining dough around the sides of the pans, so that the crust is about 1 ½ inches high. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to fill. (Do-ahead tip: at this point you can wrap the pans with plastic wrap and freeze until you are ready to fill the crusts.)
3 (8-oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, softened and at room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Beat cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Blend in sour cream and whipping cream. Pour into prepared crusts, and bake about 30 minutes. Cheesecakes will appear “poofed up” and be golden brown on top. When done, turn off the oven and allow the cakes to cool in the open oven for about a half hour. Then remove the cakes from the oven and cool at room temperature until completely cooled. Refrigerate several hours. Then add topping and garnish.
2 cans cherry pie filling
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Optional: 1 packet “Whip-It” whipped cream stabilizer
Drain excess liquid from cherry pie filling. Put a heaping tablespoon worth of cherries centered on the top of each mini cheesecake. Whip the cream with the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and whipped cream stabilizer. Pipe whipped cream around the edges of each cheesecake. Refrigerate until serving time.
Here’s a photo of the mini cheesecake pans I use for this recipe:
I know of two very good manufacturers that make professional-quality 3-inch by 2-inch cheesecake pans, that are available for purchase by the home baker. One is made by Fat Daddio, and these are available from Amazon.com. The other is available online from the WEBstaurant Store (www.webstaurantstore.com). I have a collection of mini cheesecake pans from both manufacturers. As I mentioned in the beginning of this point, I think these pans make the perfect size mini cheesecakes. I also have 4 ½ inch springform pans, but I think these make dessert cheesecakes that are a little too large to be considered single-servings. I also have some 12 cavity pans that make 2 inch by 1.6 inch cheesecakes, but those are a little small to be considered a dessert and they are a hassle to put the crust in, plus they don’t tend to bake up as nicely in my experience (they poof up when baking and then the filling doesn’t fall back in place as nice when cooling). So I highly recommend these pans.
Enjoy your baking!