If you love cheesecake and have ever made your own, you know they take a long time to bake and really need a day or two in the fridge before serving. There are times, like dungeon crawling, when we want something simpler. Something that takes little baking time (under 20 minutes) and can be eaten within a few hours of baking. And so the “Individual cheesecake” was born. Now the largest problem I have always had with doing it this way, is how do you get the cheesecakes, made with a graham cracker crust, easily out of the muffin cups.
Through research, hardship, trail AND error I found that first lining each muffin cup with a strip of parchment paper really does help. The parchment strips are cut long enough to hang over the edges of each cup, so that they act as a handle making it very easy to remove the baked cheesecakes.
1 cup graham wafer crumbs
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 – 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
The most important thing to remember when making a cheesecake is to have all the ingredients at room temperature. Beat the cream cheese just until it is creamy and smooth (no lumps) and then add the sugar. Make sure you scrape down the bowl often to remove any lumps and beat at low speed to reduce the amount of air incorporated into the batter. Cheesecakes are baked in a slow oven to prevent cracking and are done when the filling has set. Let cool before covering and placing in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Line 12 - 2 3/4 x 1 1/2 inch muffin cups with one – 2 inch wide x 6 inch long strip of parchment paper. (The ends will hang over the sides of the cups to be used as handles to lift out the baked cheesecakes.)
In a small bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press about a tablespoon of crumbs on the bottoms of the 12 muffin cups lined with parchment paper. Cover and refrigerate while you make the filling.
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the cream cheese on low speed until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating about 30 seconds. Add the vanilla extract and sour cream and beat until incorporated. Remove the crusts from the refrigerator and evenly divide the filling among the 12 muffin cups.
Bake for about 18 – 20 minutes or until firm but the centers of the cheesecakes still wobble a little. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Let cool and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (a few hours or even overnight).
Remove cheesecakes by first running a sharp knife around the inside edge of the muffin cups to loosen the cheesecakes. Then, taking hold of the two strips of parchment paper, carefully lift each cheesecake from the muffin cups. Gently peel off the parchment paper and place on your serving plate. Top with strawberry sauce and/or fresh berries.
Makes 12 individual cheesecakes.