Holiday Cranberry Cheesecakes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24 mini cheesecakes (with extra batter leftover) or 12 regular muffin size
 
Say Merry Christmas with these frosted-cranberry mini cheesecakes, perfect for a holiday party or just to celebrate the season in style!
What to get:
  • 1.25 cups fresh cranberry sauce (recipe below)
  • 2, 8-oz packages Neufch√Ętel cheese, softened to room temp (or light cream cheese)
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
For The Crust:
  • 2 cups cinnamon graham crackers, (well crushed into crumbs, no chunks)
  • ⅓ cup melted butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
Dinnervine (Thanksgiving) Cranberry Sauce:
  • 1, 12-oz bag of fresh cranberries
  • ¾-1 cup sugar (to your liking)
  • 1T fresh orange zest
  • 1 cup water
  • dash cinnamon
  • dash sea salt
What to do:
Dinnervine (Thanksgiving) Cranberry Sauce:
  1. Rinse cranberries and drain.
  2. In large pot on stove, add water and sugar, bringing to a low boil, then adding cranberries and bringing back to a gentle boil, slowly.
  3. Add orange zest, salt, cinnamon, and continue to heat until cranberries pop and sauce thickens.
  4. Cool sauce completely and store in refrigerator.
Make Cheesecakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Well grease miniature cupcake pan wells with shortening or butter (or regular-sized muffin tins), and there is usually leftover cheesecake mix when using the mini pan (about enough for one muffin tin), set them aside.
  3. Melt butter.
  4. Put graham crackers in a gallon-size, sealed, Ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin.
  5. In a mixing bowl, combine crushed graham crackers, sugar, cloves, ginger, and melted butter, combining well with a fork.
  6. Press thin-medium layer of crust mix into bottom of each well of the mini or regular cupcake pan, trying to press evenly (I prefer a thinner layer of crust in the mini pan, since they are so small).
  7. Pre-bake crust in oven for about 5 mins or less, just to help firm slightly, and remove and cool pan completely on wire rack.
  8. In bowl of electric mixer, combine softened cream cheese, sugar on medium until smooth, for a minute.
  9. Add eggs (one at a time), and then vanilla, blending on medium for an additional minute.
  10. Then add cranberry sauce, stirring to combine thoroughly.
  11. Place cheesecake mix into freezer for a few minutes to firm-up, or fridge for 10 minutes.
  12. Reduce oven temperature to 350.
  13. Fill the pan wells with chilled cheesecake mixture to the brim (on top of par-baked crust).
  14. Bake cheesecakes until top layer has firmed and toothpick comes out of center, clean (about 20 minutes or more, but if using regular-sized muffin tins, cook time will take longer).
  15. Cool finished cheesecakes completely in pan, on wire rack.
  16. Remove each cake gently by sliding sharp knife around outer edge of cooled cakes (refrigerate for several minutes before if having difficulty).
  17. Store leftover cheesecakes in the refrigerator or freezer, in an air-tight container.
Notes:
These are very simple, but softening the cream cheese first is crucial. Also, I've found it important with the leftover cakes, to remove from pan before storing in the fridge, then storing in fridge in airtight container. These also freeze beautifully in an airtight container. This recipe is easily doubled!
Recipe by the dinnervine at http://www.dinnervine.com/2013/12/cranberry-cheesecakes/