Cherry Picked

Ripe fruits and summer go hand in-hand, but there is something about fresh, sweet cherries that embody this time of year. I recently found myself looking for a new dessert to make, and I came across my mini muffin pan that had yet to be put to good use! Since I made muffins a short time ago, I wanted to find something else sweet to make. Then it occured to me, I haven’t made a cheesecake in ages, but what about a mini version?! My Mom used to make the most delicious little ones for parties with a slice of fresh strawberry on top, and I loved them!

I do like plain cheesecake, but since it’s summer I thought we should get a little creative. The bowl of ripe cherries in my colander were giving me the eye, and then it hit me…cherry cheesecakes! Not the cherry pie kind of filling, but rather fresh black cherries pureed and added right into our cream cheese mix. And for the crust? How about a chocolate graham instead of our traditional honey variety? One of my favorite ice creams is Ben & Jerry’s, Cherry Garcia. Delicious vanilla & real cherry ice cream with chocolate chunks in honor of rock legend Jerry Garcia. So, our cheesecakes will mirror all that goodness, and I think the Grateful Dead would approve! Done & done…

…well almost, now we have to make the recipe and get these babies in the oven! With a few ingredients and a really simple two-step process, we are about to make a couple dozen Mini Cherry & Chocolate Cheesecakes. Perfect for a little splurge after dinner or for your next party. These lil’ guys aren’t overly sweet, but creamy and just the right touch with a chocolate crust. Cherries are nearing the end of their peak season, so get yourself a bag while you still can!

These treats are tiny, terrific & terribly easy to make, and what isn’t better with a cherry on top?

Mini Cherry Chocolate Cheesecakes
Summer sweet cherries and chocolate pair to make one likable little cheesecake! These are a great make ahead and great anytime for a little dessert! The cherry flavor is subtle and a little fresh cherry garnish is just the touch!
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
What to get:
  • ¾ cup fresh cherries, pureed
  • 2 8-oz packages Neufchâtel cheese, softened to room temp (or light cream cheese)
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
For the Crust:
  • 1.5 cups chocolate graham crackers, well crushed into crumbs
  • ⅓ cup melted butter
  • ½ cup sugar
What to do:
Make Crust:
  1. In large plastic Ziplock bag, crush chocolate graham crackers finely with a rolling pin, removing any chunks.
  2. In mixing bowl combine chocolate cracker crumbs & sugar well.
  3. To mix add the melted butter and combine thoroughly.
  4. In mini muffin pan, press crust mix evenly to bottom, in each tin.
  5. Bake crusts in 375 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, remove and cool thoroughly.
Make Cheesecake mix:
  1. Clean fresh cherries, remove stems and pits.
  2. Place cherries into a food processor, blender to puree ,or use a handheld immersion blender (that is what I chose to use).
  3. Puree cherries until smooth with no chunks.
  4. In bowl of an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, vanilla and sugar & blend well.
  5. To mix add eggs and blend till smooth.
  6. Add pureed cherries and incorporate well.
  7. Chill cheesecake mix in freezer for about 5-8 minutes.
  8. Once par baked crusts are cooled, fill each tin with cream cheese mix to the brim.
  9. Bake cheesecakes on 350 for 20 minutes (middles should be set, and they will puff a little bit).
  10. Cool cheesecakes in pan on rack for about 30 minutes.
  11. Chill in freezer for 30 , or fridge for couple of hours
  12. Serve with a slice of fresh cherry on top!
  13. Store remaining in fridge.
Notes:
This is very easy and you can make a traditional graham crust, but I think the chocolate goes great with our fresh summer cherries! If you want more filling in each one, you can put less crumbs in the muffin tins. These store well in the freezer for a quick dessert anytime!
Serving size: 24 mini cherry cheeycakes!

Our fresh cherries are sweet and cheesecakes are sweeter! Add a chocolate graham crust & mini muffin tins and we have a darling dessert on our hands. I love these, and they store awesomely well in the fridge and freezer..that is if there are any left! This would work well as a standard size cheesecake in a pie dish, but something festive about the little ones that I gravitate towards.

I hope you enjoy the remainder of the weekend, and something slightly indulgent while you’re at it!

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Thank you for visiting the dinnervine! In the words of Julia Child, "People who love to eat, are always the best people," and I couldn't agree more. I hope you enjoy these dishes as much as I did making them. Here's to creating new recipes and memories with friends & family, cheers! 

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