Last year for Christmas, I made cupcake-sized cheesecakes that got rave reviews from many of my family members (our extended family gets together on Christmas – one of my very favorite traditions). I had a feeling that there would be a mutiny if I didn’t make some again this year, but I thought it would be fun to switch up the flavor. I still have yet to decide what version I’ll make for Christmas day (there are too many great choices), but these gingerbread cheesecakes are definitely in the running. Or, maybe I have decided and I just don’t want to give it away for my family. See, I can be tricky : )
Over the years I’ve learned that bite-sized versions of desserts seem to be best for our holiday gatherings. For whatever reason, full-sized cakes are always left almost completely untouched. However, cookies, cupcakes or anything else you can easily grab are gobbled up in no time. Which is one of the reasons that I love these small cheesecakes. It may also have something to do with the fact that they stop you from slicing a way too big piece of a whole cheesecake. Wait, no one else has that problem?
These cheesecakes have just the right combination of creamy cheesecake goodness and that wonderful gingerbread flavor. They have a hint of spice, but nothing too overpowering. While these were good plain, a dollop of fresh whipped cream made them even better. I used my recipe for homemade cinnamon whipped cream, but just left out the cinnamon. Perfect. As a finishing touch, I sprinkled the tops with a touch of nutmeg and garnished with a mini gingerbread man. These were almost too cute for words.
Yield: 16 cupcake-sized cheesecakes
Recipe for individual gingerbread cheesecakes. With a gingersnap crust and a creamy cheesecake filling packed with just the right amount of spice.
For the crust:
- 1 cup gingersnap crumbs
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ⅛ cup granulated sugar
For the cheesecake:
- 1 pound (16 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
- ¾ cups granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- ⅛ cup unsulfured molasses
- pinch of salt
- ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- dash of cloves
- fresh whipped cream, optional
- sprinkle of nutmeg, optional
- mini gingerbread men, optional
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 16 cupcake tins with baking cups and set aside.
- To make the crust – in a small bowl, combine the gingersnap crumbs, melted butter and sugar. Mix until all the crumbs are moistened. Scoop slightly under 1 tablespoon of the mixture and use your fingers to press into the bottom of each cupcake well. Bake for about 5 minutes, until the crust is set. Place pan on a wire rack to cool.
- To make the cheesecake – reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the cream cheese. Beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until fluffy. Add in the sugar and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and beat on low speed after each addition until incorporated. Add the molasses, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Beat until combined.
- Evenly distribute the filling among the 16 cooled cupcake tins. Bake for about 22 to 25 minutes, until the cheesecakes are set but still slightly wobbly in the centers (they may look puffed but will return to normal after removed from the oven). Let the pans cool on a wire rack. Once completely cool, transfer to the refrigerator and let chill uncovered for at least four hours.
- Before serving, top each cheesecake with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Sprinkle with a touch of nutmeg and gently press a mini gingerbread man into the top for garnish.
My cheesecakes sunk a little after baking. The original recipe recommends using a water bath to prevent cracking and sinking. Since I didn’t have a big enough pan, I skipped this step. It was nothing that couldn’t be fixed with some whipped cream 🙂
However, if you do have a big enough pan, you can go ahead and use a water bath. To do so, after you fill the tins with the cheesecake filling, place the tin in a large, shallow pan. Transfer the pan to the oven and carefully pour hot water into the large pan so that it comes halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake according to the instructions above. Remove the tins from the water bath and let cool on the wire rack.
Adapted from Martha Stewart.