I like the idea of serving little individual desserts at get togethers and these little cheesecakes do the job. People can just pick one up and go - no slicing and serving required. I made lemon pound cake parfaits in taller jars but these little cheesecakes are in the smaller 4-ounce jelly jars. You can find them easily at your grocery store. They are just about the perfect serving size for all those people who say, "Oh, I shouldn't eat dessert. Well, maybe just a few bites." The toppings that you can use are endless. I had to make a few of these with mini chocolate chips for my sweet guy, Nathan - he doesn't do raspberries. I was also thinking a nice layer of caramel sauce would be heavenly.
The recipe calls for vanilla extract, something I never buy in the grocery store. I've purchased vanilla beans for a long time from Beanilla, a great company that sells the most luscious, plump vanilla beans you ever saw. I love slicing a vanilla bean and scraping out the seeds, or caviar, for desserts. It adds such a depth of flavor. Rob, the founder of Beanilla, has some very interesting items in addition to the vanilla beans. I've used his vanilla bean paste in this recipe. It's a quick way to add the vanilla bean seeds without having to use a whole vanilla bean.
Vanilla Bean Paste from Beanilla
Cheesecakes in Jars
for a printable recipe, click here
makes 24 little cheesecakes. (the recipe is easily halved)
you will need 24 4-ounce regular mouth jelly jars
for the cheesecake:
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (16 whole graham crackers, ground)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 8 tablespoons butter, melted
- 4 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used 1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste)
- zest of 1 lemon
for the Raspberry Topping:
- 2 pints of fresh raspberries
- strawberry or raspberry jelly
Other toppings: I used mini chocolate chips. You can really do anything you like for the toppings. All kinds of fruit would work, caramel sauce, meringue, etc.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
Spray the jelly jars with non-stick cooking spray, making sure to spray the bottoms so the crust doesn't stick.
Blend the graham cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons of sugar and melted butter in a bowl. Place about 1 heaping tablespoon of the crumbs into each jelly jar and tamp down to make the crust (I used a wine cork).
I used a Rabbit wine cork to tamp down the crumbs for the crusts
In a large mixer bowl, mix the room temperature cream cheese with the 3/4 cup of sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well. Add the sour cream, vanilla and lemon zest and mix until well incorporated. Fill each jelly jar with about 1/3 cup of the filling, leaving room at the top for your topping.
Place the jars in a large roasting pan or two deep baking dishes. Fill the pan with hot water halfway up the jelly jars. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove jars with tongs and place on a wire rack to cool.
garnish with fresh mint
For the raspberry topping: pick over the raspberries and discard any that are moldy or bruised. Place 7 raspberries on top of each cheesecake. Heat about 1/3 cup of the jelly in a microwave and stir so that the jelly is spreadable. Brush the tops of the raspberries gently with the jelly to glaze them. Refrigerate cheesecakes until ready to serve. Can be made the day before.