recipe: Mini Cheesecake
Size matters not. Look at my cheesecake. Judge it by its size, do you? Hmm?
It is no secret that I love cheesecake. I suspect this love started when I was young and neighborhood bistros ruled the planet. When I started my double-digit birthdays, my parents would often have something planned on that night, a movie, a show, or even some event of their that I just might enjoy–or not–tagging along. On the way home, it sort of became a ritual for a few years that we’d stop off at Bennigan’s for dinner. Once inside, my father would disappear for a minute and return to the table and at the end of the meal, servers would appear with a slice of cheesecake with a candle in it, clapping and singing, and it was always awesome.1
I still like traditional cake, but when I started cooking and baking and realized that I could make a cheesecake any time I wanted to… game-changer. I’m a fan of the New York style thicker creamy cheesecake, but I’m always on the lookout for new recipes, especially since cheesecake is usually really easy to make, and really impressive to bring to a potluck or party. This year, I’ve already made three, but they were huge, and my love for cheesecake was at war with my appetite. Even giving out slices to others and bringing leftovers to work still left me with a quarter to a half of an uneaten 9-inch round cheesecake in the fridge.2
When I last made a sweet potato cheesecake over the holidays, I somehow had too much batter and ended up making a mini cheesecake in one of my smaller pans with the remains. It turned out just as well, however the idea to make them never really occurred to me because 1: I’m an idiot, and 2: I didn’t put enough thought in figuring out the proportion reductions to go from a 9- or 10-inch pan to a 5-inch one. So… to the internet!
I found a recipe for a mini chocolate chip cheesecake, and it now has me compiling ideas here and there to reduce my other usual recipes down to a more manageable size. See, I do like sweets, but I’m more of a salty/savory person, so I’ll make desserts, but if they aren’t intended to be shared they just sit around until I throw them out. Finally I have a cheesecake that I can get through, a treat-sized piece at a time and I don’t feel like I’ve wasted a bunch of ingredients just in case I do get tired of it.
Mini (5- to 6-inch) Cheesecake
- ½ – ¾ cup graham crackers or ginger snaps or cookies of your choice, crushed
- 1 ½ Tbsp sugar and 3⁄8 cup sugar, divided
- 1 ½ Tbsp butter, melted
- 12 ounce cream cheese
- ½ tsp vanilla
- 2 medium eggs
- Preheat oven to 350° and prep a 5- to 6-inch springform pan by brushing the sides with butter, or lining them with parchment paper.
- Combine crushed cookies/crackers(a), butter and 1 ½ tablespoon sugar. If using a food processor, you can crush the cookies first, then add the butter and sugar, otherwise combine in a bowl and stir together.
- Press the crumbs into the bottom of the prepared springform pan. A flat-bottomed glass or cup will help keep the layer even and help form the crumbs up around the side of the pan.
- Bake the crust for about 5-10 minutes then remove from oven to cool.
- Using a mixer, cream the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla.
- Mix in eggs, one at a time.(b)
- Pour batter over the crust and bake for 30-45 minutes, until batter is set and no longer too jiggly.
- Chill for 4-6 hours, or overnight.
There are a lot of tried and true methods for cheesecakes, but because of the smaller size in this recipe, I found that I didn’t need to use my mixer for the batter, instead using a wooden spoon, then a whisk. I also didn’t use a water bath, but I should have at least wrapped the bottom of the springform in foil as sometimes butter will leak through while baking.
If you don’t have a small springform pan… you’re probably not looking for this recipe anyway! However, here are directions for a DIY pan made from parchment paper if you’re still so inclined.
- Use more cookies/crackers if you like your crust to go up around the sides of the cake. I’ve found this sometimes helps reduce cracking, plus I just prefer the look of it.
- I used about 3 Tbsp of chocolate chips as a mix in while making the batter, completely optional.
All in all, this worked out pretty well for me and allows me to stay on track for my “Year of Cheesecakes” trying different recipes every month but not having a ton of sweets around to tempt me. Look for more cheesecake in the coming months, and I’ll do my best to post the original and shrunk down recipes.
2 And it’s rare that I get tired of a 9-inch anything…