For several months now I have had an obsession of the cheesecake variety. I wanted a rich, creamy, not overly sweet, decadent cheesecake. I wanted it mini, I wanted it to stand up to a variety of toppings, and I wanted it easy… but real.
Now I don’t think this too much to ask of a cheesecake but every recipe I tried just wasn’t quite there. They were too sweet, not thick enough, not cream cheese-y enough and just well, not right. So I took the aspects of the recipes I did like, combined and tweaked and with no complaint in this household, I made them enough times to be sure they will work for you each and every time. Because really at the end of the day if you are making cheesecake it’d better be worth it!
The kids also got really into this project, crumbling crackers and carefully measuring. Of course they all taste tested and gave their approval. It helps when dessert is already an individual portion, no one is arguing who got a bigger piece. Except after the kids go to bed and you eat two more because one isn’t cutting it, and for good measure you have another for breakfast because god forbid you leave an odd number in the pan.
I couldn’t decide which I liked best as far as toppings go so you’re getting the how to for all three. You’re Welcome.
Cupcake Cheesecakes with Blueberry Cardamom Sauce, Raspberry Lemon Verbena Jam, or Rhubarb Compote
(makes 24 cupcake size cheesecakes, easily halved)
For the crust:
- 6 Tablespoons salted butter
- 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 10 graham crackers
For the filling:
- 4 – 8oz packages Philadelphia cream cheese – room temperature
- 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt – room temperature
- 4 large eggs – room temperature
- 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- a pinch of salt
For the Rhubarb Compote:
- 1 lb chopped rhubarb
- 3/4 cup sugar
For the Blueberry Cardamom Sauce:
- 3 cups wild blueberries
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cardamom
- 1/2 cup sugar
To make the cheesecakes:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and line two cupcake tins with paper or foil liners, 24 total. I really believe a properly heated oven goes an extremely long way in cheesecake baking, so if you have an oven thermometer bust that baby out for these!
First you will make the crust. Start by melting your butter and then crush your graham crackers until the consistency of fine sand. I like to let the kids do the crushing in a ziplock bag with a rolling pin. Then in either the ziplock bag or a bowl mix in your brown sugar and then your melted butter until all the crumbs are evenly moistened with the butter. Evenly divide the crumb mixture into your cupcake liners and push down firmly with your fingers or I like to use a shot glass. The goal is to create a crust if even thickness.
For the filling, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment place all your cream cheese and blend until very smooth. This will take about 3-5 minutes on medium speed, pausing once about halfway through to scrape the whole bowl with a rubber spatula to prevent clumps.
While your cream cheese is blending, in a small bowl mix your sugar, lemon juice, salt and vanilla, then slowly add the sugar into your smooth cream cheese and mix for another 2 minutes or so until the mixture again looks even in color and consistency.
Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl with your rubber spatula. Add in your eggs one at a time blending until fully incorporated each time, once all eggs are added, again scrape down your bowl and finally mix in your greek yogurt until smooth and blended. Remove bowl from your mixer stand and once more scrape the bowl with your rubber spatula (the goal is to prevent lumps in your cheesecake!), if it is at all uneven return to your mixer for additional blending.
Once smooth, scoop the cheesecake filling into your waiting liners onto the crust, fill nearly to the top of the liner. I like to use a 1/3 cup measure for this as it is just about the right size for filling all the liners. Tap the cupcake tin on the counter a few times once full to settle the filling and create an even top to your cheesecakes.
Bake 17-19 minutes until almost completely set, they may jiggle slightly that’s ok but do not cook till they crack or brown! They will appear puffy but will settle as they cool.
Allow cheesecake to cool to room temperature in the pan, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least two hours. Top with your favorite topping and enjoy!
To make the Rhubarb Compote:
In a small saucepan over medium heat cook the chopped rhubarb stirring continuously until the rhubarb begins to soften and ooze liquid, stir in sugar and cook until sugar dissolves and rhubarb completely breaks down. Finish by blending with a handheld immersion blender for a smooth compote. Chill and serve cold over the cheesecakes.
To make the Blueberry Cardamom Sauce:
In a small saucepan over medium heat cook your blueberries, sugar, and cardamom until the berries breakdown and the sauce begins to thicken, about 15-20 minutes. Be sure to stir frequently to prevent burning or sticking. Chill and serve cold over the cheesecakes.
A few tips for storing…
- If you remove the cheesecakes from the pan prior to refrigeration they will come out much easier.
- If you remove the liners from the cheesecake before storing them the cheesecake will “sweat” on the sides so I recommend leaving them in their papers until just before serving.
- Wait until you are ready to serve your cheesecakes to put on your toppings as they will not hold up as firmly if topped for any length of time over about 8-12 hours.