One of my very good friends at work was recently appointed president of the Chicago Nutrition Society. To celebrate, we had a small party in her honor yesterday at the office….and what do you make for the president of a nutrition society? My answer is cheesecake.
Someone so focused on nutrition must surely enjoy the occassional decadent treat, right? Plus, I made them minature for portion control and added FRUIT on top…nevermind that it’s a single blackberry. Okay, fine, no ones buying the health angle here so lets just go back to the fact that everyone deserves and occassional treat.
And boy are these a treat…and just the right size. Made in paper-lined muffin tins, these little beauties come together in a snap. Instead of graham crackers, I used shortbread cookies for the crust, mainly because that’s what I had in the house. But they gave the cakes a delicous, butteryness that was just wonderful.
The cookies are easily crushed in a food processor, but since I don’t have one, I just dumped the cookies into a ziploc bag, handed JiT a rolling pin and let him go to town on them.
I “cheated” for the blackberry filing: I spread of small dollop of Dickinson’s Marion Blackberry Seedless Preserves (the best jam in the world) on top of the cookie crusts in each muffin cup, then topped with the cheesecake filling and baked. As soon as I pulled the finished cakes from the oven, I stuck a single blackberry onto the tops and let them cool. Then I poured a tall glass of milk and tried to restrain myself to just one.
One quick hostessing hint — if you feel like being a dessert hero for the 4th of July — I suggest using strawberry jam for the filling and a plump fresh blueberry on top. (If you want to take off the wrappers to serve, stick the cakes in the fridge to cool and the papers will peel right off — very pretty). Enjoy!
Baby Blackberry Cheesecakes
Makes apx. 18 mini cheesecakes in muffin tins
1 package of Shortbread Cookies (I used half of a 5 oz. box of Nabisco Lorna Doones)
1 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp butter melted
2 8 oz. packages of cream cheese
1/3 C sour cream
1/2 C sugar
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1/3 C blackberry jam (or other flavor of your choice)
Fresh blackberries (or other berries) to top each cake
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line muffin tins with paper baking cups.
Process the cookies in a food processor until ground or crush them in a zipper bag with a rolling pin. Add the melted butter and sugar and combine until evenly mixed. Press the crumbs evenly into bottom of muffin tins. I use the flat bottom of a 1/4 cup measuring cup to firmly press the crumbs. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth, then add the eggs, sour cream, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla, and mix on medium-high speed until the filling is smooth and fluffy. When the crust is done, remove from the oven and spread a dollop of jam into the bottom of each muffin cup. Then pour in the cheesecake filling, filing each cup about 3/4 of the way full.
Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes, or until the cakes are firm (they will likey “crack” on top, but will smooth out once they’ve cooled thoroughly). As soon as you take the pans from the oven, press a fresh berry into the top of each cake. Let it cool to room temperature then chill before removing the papers. Serve cold or at room temperature.