Red, White and Blue Mini Cheesecakes

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Red, White and Blue Mini Cheesecakes

The fourth of July is one of those holidays that has all of your favorite backyard barbecue treats. Hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and dip – the list goes on and on. Where I always stumble is what to have for dessert, as I want something I can make ahead that’s not only easy to make but easy to serve.

These Red, White and Blue Mini Cheesecakes check all the boxes, and what I like most about them is that they’re fresh in flavor and look festive on the table. The cheesecake itself is basic, we didn’t go crazy with the flavors, just adding a bit of lemon zest to brighten the bite. The whipped topping is not overly sweet and the blueberries and strawberries complete the look.

The one area where we did divert from the traditional are the crusts, opting to go with crushed gingersnaps since these cookies add a nice spice element to the cheesecakes. If you’re not a fan of gingersnaps, you can easily substitute graham crackers or vanilla wafers, but both of those variations will sweeten the cheesecakes.

Prepping the Ingredients

Place your gingersnaps in a gallon-size zip-close bag, removing the excess air and sealing the bag. Using the back of the Ice Cream Scoop, pound the gingersnaps until they become finely crushed.

Smashing the gingersnaps with an Ice Cream Scoop.

If you don’t have a zester, you can easily zest the lemon by thinly peeling it with a Vegetable Peeler. Then, using a 5" Petite Santoku knife, cut the peels into thin strips, turn them perpendicular and finely cut the strips. Finish by using a rocking motion of the knife to mince the peel.

lemon-zest-5

Cut off the tops of the strawberries with a Santoku-Style 3″ Paring Knife, then cut them in half. If the strawberries are large, you can quarter them. Use the same knife to thinly slice the halved or quartered strawberries.

The Santoku-Style Paring knife is perfect for slicing the strawberries.

Making the Cheesecakes

Spray a 24-cup mini-muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray (or use muffin cup liners) and place the tin on a baking sheet.

In a medium bowl mix the crushed gingersnaps, melted butter and vanilla extract. Place a rounded teaspoon of the crust mixture into each muffin tin. A tip for evening out the crust in each tin is to take another empty muffin tin and place it on top of the one with the crusts, pressing down lightly to compact the crust.

In a large bowl using a hand-mixer or stand-mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar and flour until light and fluffy. Add the lemon zest and vanilla, and mix until combined. On medium-low speed, add the eggs one at a time until combined. Add the sour cream and mix until smooth.

Now you can spoon the cream cheese mixture into the muffin tins, but it does get messy. I recommend using a piping bag with a large round tip. Fill the bag with the cream cheese mixture and pipe it into the individual mini-muffin cups, filling each to the top.

Tap the muffin pan to even out the filling and use a toothpick to pop any air bubbles you may see. Place the pan on a baking sheet into a preheated 325 F oven and bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. You should start to see the cheesecake rise and perhaps some cracks. The key to knowing when they are done is that they shouldn’t jiggle in the middle. You want them completely cooked through.

Remove the cheesecakes from the oven and allow them to cool for at least 20 minutes. Flip them out of the pan and place on a serving tray. While the cheesecakes are cooling, using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer, beat the cold heavy cream (it’s important for the heavy cream to be cold so you get the best texture) until you have soft peaks, and then add the powdered sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff.

Place the whipped cream into a piping bag with a star tip. If you don’t have a piping bag, cut the corner off a zip-close bag, place the tip into the cutout slot and fill the bag with the cream. Pipe a border of whipped cream onto each cheesecake.

Mix the berries with a small amount of orange marmalade to coat them. This leaves the berries nice and shiny and adds another hint of citrus flavor. Place blueberries and the sliced strawberries into the center of each cheesecake and serve.

Important note: If the cheesecakes are made in advance, wait to top with the whipped topping and berries as the topping will melt and the juice from the berries will make the cheesecakes soggy. Do this step right before serving. If you have any leftover coated fruit, put it in a bowl and serve alongside the cheesecakes. This recipe makes 24 mini cheesecakes.

Everyone loved these Red, White and Blue Mini Cheesecakes. With a crisp and refreshing flavor, they are not overly sweet and very easy to eat. The only complication we saw is that it was very easy to eat three or four of these bites. So you may want to make a double batch. Enjoy!

Red, White and Blue Mini Cheesecakes

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Ingredients

For the gingersnap crust:

  • 3/4 cup finely crushed gingersnaps
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cheesecake:

  • 2 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

For the whipped topping and fruit:

  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 2-4 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 16-ounces of fresh strawberries, quartered and sliced
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  2. Spray 24-cup mini-muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray and place on a baking sheet.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the crushed gingersnaps, butter and vanilla extract until combined. Use a teaspoon to scoop a slightly-rounded portion of the crust mixture and place into the bottom of each muffin cup. Use the bottom of the spoon to spread the crust mixture evenly.
  4. Place another 24-cup mini-muffin tin on top of the prepared muffin tin and press down lightly to compact the crust.
  5. Using a stand mixer or hand-held mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar and flour until light and fluffy. Add the lemon zest and vanilla then mix until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating the mixture until each egg is incorporated. Add the sour cream and mix until smooth.
  6. Put the cheesecake mixture into a piping bag with a large round tip, piping the mixture into the muffin cups. Fill each muffin cup to the top and tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and even the batter. If you see any additional air bubbles, use a toothpick to stir the mixture. You can fill the muffin cups with a spoon, but the piping bag does make the process easier.
  7. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, until the cheesecake rises, and small cracks appear on the surface. Note that the outside cheesecake cups may rise and crack more than the inside cups.
  8. Cool the cheesecakes to room temperature, around 20 minutes and then remove them from the tin. Place the cheesecakes on a flat plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, approximately an hour.
  9. While the cheesecakes are chilling, place the cold heavy cream in the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer) with the whisk attachment and whisk until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and continue to whisk until the peaks are medium to stiff.
  10. Put the whipped topping into a piping bag with a star tip and pipe a border onto each chilled cheesecake.
  11. Put cut strawberries and blueberries into a medium bowl and add the orange marmalade, stirring to ensure the fruit is coated. Place cut strawberries and blueberries in the middle of each cheesecake before serving.

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