For some reason, my baking muses (read: 4 sons) nudge me in the direction of small, portable treats during the summer. I think it has to do with all of the friendly outdoor gatherings that arise. And we all know that no friendly gathering is complete without a little dessert. But I’ll be honest–sometimes I get a little tired of baking cookies or cupcakes.
Gasp! I know!
Sometimes I just crave a little something more. Like cheesecake. But, let’s face it, trying to slice and serve a cheesecake at a beach or deck party with everyone mingling about would be impractical, at best. However, sometimes the only right thing to do when a craving calls is answer. So sometimes…sometimes I need to make my cravings merge with practicality. Kind of like forcing that square peg into a round hole, only tastier.
Such is the case with these Cheesecake Cups. The phrase good things come in little packages was never more true than with these little bites of creamy indulgence. I mean, really? What is better than a cheesecake that fits into the palm of your hand? Not much, that’s what. Oh, and did I mention that the crust is really a chocolate chip cookie? Because there’s that, too. I promise that if you bring these little cheesecakes to your next friendly gathering you will be the Star of the Show! The Belle of the Ball! The King of the Hill!
You get the idea…
Cheesecake cups are made in two stages, neither of which is complicated. Before we get to the prep-type things, do the usual preheating the oven to 325° F, and lining 24 muffin cups with paper liners type-things.
Gather the usual suspects for the chocolate chip cookie crust: unsalted butter, flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, vanilla extract, an egg, and chocolate chips.
Dump the flour, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon into a large bowl, then whisk it to combine.
In a medium, microwave safe bowl, melt the butter for about a minute on 70% power. Pour the granulated sugar into the melted butter.
Add the brown sugar, egg, and vanilla.
Whisk until the egg is fully incorporated, and the mixture looks like caramel.
Pour the wet stuff into the flour mixture, and stir until well blended.
Then fold in the chocolate chips. Taste the cookie dough. Strictly for quality control purposes, of course.
If you’re like me and married to a funny guy, you’ll have to ignore him as he takes your picture mixing cookie dough on the front porch because that was where the light was best for photographing the shots. You’ll have to ignore a few snickers, too. And maybe swat his hand when he tries to taste the cookie dough. Because laughing at the cook is a sure-fire way to get your Quality Control Privileges revoked.
Use a small cookie scoop to portion the dough into the prepared cups.
Bake at 325º for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned around the edges and mostly set in the middle. Be careful not to over do it here because these little guys are going back in the oven after being bathed with the filling.
The filling is a snap to prepare with only 4 ingredients: cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, and vanilla extract.
Beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla. Continue mixing until the eggs are fully incorporated and mixture is creamy; scraping down the sides of the bowl, as necessary.
Pour in the sweetened condensed milk, and continue mixing until combined. The filling will be very runny.
Use a large scoop to distribute the filling evenly amongst the cups.
If you don’t have a large scoop, use about 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons of filling per cup.
The cups should be 3/4 full. Continue to bake at 325° for another 16 to 18 minutes…
…or until Cheesecake Cups are set but not browned. Allow the cheesecakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. Once cheesecakes are completely cool, refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
Cheesecake Cups are great served as is, or topped with a few fresh berries, a dusting of powdered sugar, or a little jam.
For the Cookie Crusts:
1 C. + 2Tbs. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ C. unsalted butter
½ C. granulated sugar
½ C. brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips
For the Filling:
16 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
Fresh berries or jam (optional)
- Line 24 muffins cups with paper liners; set aside. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees (F).
- Prepare the crusts by whisking together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl until blended.
- Place butter in a medium bowl, and microwave for 1 minute on 70% power, or until melted. (Use your best judgment, depending on the power of your microwave.)
- Dump both sugars into the bowl of melted butter, along with the vanilla extract and an egg. Whisk the wet ingredients until well combined.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir until well blended.
- Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Use a small scoop to portion rounded tablespoonfuls of dough into the liners of the muffin cups.
- Bake for 10 minutes, or until cookies have spread, are very lightly browned around the edges and mostly set in the middle; being careful not to over bake the cookie crust. Remove from the oven.
- While the cookie crusts are baking, make the filling by using an electric mixer to beat cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth.
- Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and sweetened condensed milk, and continue to mix until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Filling will be very thin.
- Once the cookie crusts are done baking, portion the filling with a large scoop, pouring the filling over the crusts in the cups. Each cup should hold about 3 tablespoons of filling, making cups ¾ full.
- Bake for another 16-18 minutes, or until cheesecake cups are set, but not browned.
- Cool cheesecake cups completely in the pan set on a wire rack.
- Once cool, refrigerate cheesecake cups for at least one hour, or overnight.
- Serve cheesecake cups plain or topped with fresh berries, or a teaspoon of jam, or a dusting of powdered sugar.
- Store leftover cheesecakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. (Or freeze for up to 1 month.)