If your family is anything like mine, they are crazy for cheesecake. I guess the fascination of cheesecake began with my mom, who started baking cheesecakes for most family parties and gatherings many many years ago. Traditionally, she made a classic cheesecake similar to a New York style, but not as heavy, with a sour cream topping. Over the years, she then branched into other flavors like chocolate, pumpkin, berry and lemon, always coming up with a new fun twist.
I guess the cheesecake gene rubbed off in my DNA and I love baking cheesecakes too, but sometimes on a smaller scale. Maybe it’s because these creamy decadent bites make people so happy, but probably it’s because they are so darn good. In this recipe, I thought why not create a three-biter dessert, reminiscent of the first few forkfuls of any good cheesecake? That way you get the luscious lemony flavor in a couple of compact tastes, and have the option of always coming back for more without a lot of guilt.
These lemon cheesecakes can be baked in a muffin pan or removable bottom mini cup pan — both work great. The soft tang from a Meyer lemon always reminds me of springtime, and becomes the perfect sunny bite of the season. These little gems are fun to enjoy at any smaller gathering, like Mother’s Day, or served as dessert on any occasion after a delightful meal.
12 graham cracker squares or 6 rectangular crackers
4 tablespoon butter, melted
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 Meyer lemon
1/2 cup sugar + 1 teaspoon
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
(Makes 12 Mini Cheesecakes)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray muffin pan or removable bottom mini-cup pan with cooking spray or brush with oil, set aside. In a food processor, add graham crackers and melted butter. Puree until soft crumbs, about 1 minute.
2. Add 1 tablespoon of crumbs to each cup and press down with fingers. Bake in oven 8 minutes, remove and let cool while you prepare cheesecake batter.
3. Zest lemon and slice in half. Rinse out food processor and add cream cheese, eggs, sugar, juice of half of the lemon, 1/2 of zest and flour, puree until smooth. Pour mixture into a measuring cup.
4. Pour cheesecake batter over mini crusts, until 2/3 full. Place on a sheet pan and bake for 18-20, or until set. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature, about 40 minutes. Place in refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours.
5. Loosen cheesecakes around perimeter with a table knife. Mix other half of zest with 1 teaspoon of sugar and sprinkle over tops of cheesecakes. Enjoy!