Thursday, March 15, 2012

Strawberry Mini Cheesecakes

Spring is here!! And that means that my favorite season, *summertime* is not too far behind! With 70 degree weather in March I believe it. I've been spending most of my days soaking in as much sun as possible, and many of my nights trying out new recipes!!

I'm pretty much a newbie when it comes to baking. Since I was little I remember being in the kitchen with my mom as she baked batches and batches of her famous pound cake to give away as Christmas presents. I would help with baking cookies, but up until college most of the baking I've done has been out of the box.

Since I moved into an apartment away from campus, I've found myself with an overwhelming desire to bake, bake... and bake some more! I love to bake for my friends, family, and I'd probably even bake for complete strangers if it would bring a smile to their faces. So I'm using this blog to chronicle my forays into baking, and most of my posts are of things that I'm trying for the first time. Even though I dont have much experience, my baking usually turns out delicious!! What can I say, it must run it the family!

Now here's a recipe that I tried a couple nights ago, and my friends RAVED about it. I've always wanted to try cheesecakes and decided to try mini versions so that everyone could try some! This recipe took quite a bit of time and is a little bit complex, but was totally worth all the hard work.

Here's what you'll need:

1 1/2 packages light cream cheese (12 ounces)
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup whipped topping (like Cool Whip)
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla

Strawberry Filling

1 and 1/3 cups strawberries, fresh or frozen*
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
*I used frozen strawberries and only 1/2 cup of water

Graham Cracker Crust

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


For the strawberry jelly, put strawberries, sugar, and water in a saucepan over medium heat. While the filling is cooking break up strawberries into small mushy pieces. Allow to boil uncovered for about 7 minutes, then take off heat and refrigerate to cool.

Now we will get the graham cracker crust ready. To start, melt 1/2 cup of butter in a small bowl. Place pieces of graham cracker in a ziplock bag and seal. Roll a rolling pin over the cookies, which should start to break up into small crumbs. Repeat this process until all cookies have been turned to crumbs and you have enough to fill 1 cup. Feel free to snack on any big chunks that dont break up!
In another small bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon. Pour into bowl of melted sugar and mix with a fork until it is clumpy and sticks together between your fingers. Set aside.

Here we can get to the good part: the cheesecake! In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, and cream cheese until well blended (I used an electric hand mixer). Add the whipped topping and mix until combined. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Mix in lemon juice and vanilla extract.

Now it's time to assemble the cupcakes. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place cupcake liners in cupcake pan. Take about 1 tablespoon of the graham cracker mixture and place at the bottom of each cupcake liner. Use a small glass or the backs of your fingers to press the crust flat onto the botom of the liner, making sure it covers the bottom of the liner. 
Remove your strawberry jelly from the fridge and place about 1 teaspoon of jelly on top of each graham cracker crust.
Fill cupcake cups about 3/4 full with cheesecake mixture. Place in oven and bake for 7-10 minutes, then turn heat down to 275 and bake for another 12 to 15 minutes, or until tops are firm and slightly golden. Cool on wire rack until room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour (I refrigerated overnight).

When cheesecake is cooled, you can decorate however you want! I used a dollop of the whipped topping and the leftover strawberry filling and graham cracker mixture to garnish.

Makes 24 mini cheesecakes. Enjoy!!


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