Cheesecake. For birthdays, holidays, my kids always request cheesecake. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love making them, but to do ‘em right you have to follow a few tricks–including baking it for over an hour. A traditional cheesecake can take a better part of a day to make. Yikes! I just don’t have that amount of time.

Solution? Minis. (I know, I know, I’m really into baking things in miniature). I can now, make a dozen awe-inspiring cheesecakes in the same amount of time it takes for brownies. And the recipe is simple enough that my kids can make these.

What I like about my little discovery is that you’re not stuck with just one flavor–mix raspberry jam into one, miniature chocolate chips (there I go again) into another. Extra pecans? Throw ‘em in a couple.

Get the idea? What’s in your cupboard you’ve been wanting to get rid of use creatively in a recipe? Here are three ideas, I’m sure you’ll come up with more. Better yet, pass your ideas along to you Mother’s Day baking crew.

Light:

Follow the basic recipe below, substituting fat-free or Neufchatel cream cheese (1/3 less fat than regular) and low fat graham crackers for the crust. (Sorry no picture here–I went for a happy-calorie medium, with Neufchatel cream cheese and regular crumbs for the crust:)

I put a layer of caramel sauce on before adding the chocolate ganache

Turtle:

Instead of graham cracker crumbs, use crushed pecan sandies. Stir pecans into the batter. Before serving the cheesecakes, top with caramel sauce, and chocolate ganache.

Chocolate Lovers:

For the crust, try chocolate graham crackers (I used chocolate animal crackers, mmmm). And make this addition: melt 1/2 cup high quality chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons heavy cream in a glass measuring cup by heating it half power for 90 seconds in the microwave, then stir. Let the mixture cool then add it with the cream cheese batter (you might also want to add 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder; I went with my black onyx powder). Serve with chocolate sauce, whipped cream and sprinkled with cocoa powder.

Is your crew not the cooking type? Check out these Mother’s Day gifts that moms over at Motherboard received. I love the story of the little boy that bought his mom the best present ever (or so he thought)–a racing car magazine.

Now for that mini-cheesecake recipe…

Basic Recipe

Ingredients

Crust

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (chocolate or regular)

4 Tablespoons butter, melted

Filling

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature

¾ cup white sugar

2 eggs

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Pulse graham crackers in a food processor until you have fine crumbs.
  3. Add the melted butter into the crumb mixture. Mix to combine.
  4. Lightly grease 8, 6-ounce ramekins (or you can use muffin papers).
  5. Divide the crust into the 8-10  containers and firmly press the crust into the bottom and a little bit up the sides.
  6. Bake the crust for 10 minutes.
  7. For the filling, mix the cheese on high until creamy. Add the sugar and then the eggs, making sure to combine.
  8. Mix for 5 minutes straight to fully incorporate all of the ingredients.
  9. Scoop the batter into the containers, making sure that they aren’t overly full.
  10. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the batter barely giggles.
  11. Cool and then refrigerate over night.

Your turn–what are some of your favorite Mother’s Day memories? Or do you have a special request for the big day (besides mini-cheesecakes)?

Hungry yet?

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