1 cup (100 grams) graham wafer crumbs or crushed digestive biscuits
1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated white sugar
4 - 5 tablespoons (55-65 grams) butter, melted
2 - 8 ounce (454 grams) packages of full fat cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup (120 ml) sour cream, room temperature
Cheesecakes: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) and place oven rack in the center of the oven. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. (Can also use silicone baking cups.)
For Crust: In a small bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press a heaping tablespoon of crumbs onto the bottoms of the 12 muffin cups. Cover and refrigerate while you make the filling.
For Filling: In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the cream cheese on low speed until creamy and smooth. Add the sugar and salt and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the vanilla extract, lemon zest, and sour cream and beat until incorporated. Remove the crusts from the refrigerator and evenly divide the filling among the 12 muffin cups.
Bake for about 18 - 22 minutes or until firm but the centers of the cheesecakes still wobble a little. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Let cool and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (a few hours or even overnight).
To serve, gently peel off the paper liners and place on your serving plate. Serve with strawberry or raspberry sauce, fresh berries, or drizzle with melted chocolate. These cheesecakes can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for several days.
Makes 12 individual cheesecakes.
These Individual Cheesecakes are set in a graham cracker crust and have a creamy smooth New York style cheesecake filling. If you make your own cheesecakes, you know they take a long time to bake and really need a day in the refrigerator before serving. There are times, however, when we want something simpler. These Individual Cheesecakes fit the bill as they take only about 20 minutes to bake and need just a few hours to chill. They are baked in muffin cups and are excellent plain, but I think cheesecake always tastes better with fruit, so serve with either fresh berries or a strawberry or raspberry sauce.
The most important thing to remember when making a cheesecake is to have all the ingredients at room temperature. Beat the cream cheese just until it is creamy and smooth (no lumps) and then add the sugar. Make sure you scrape down the bowl often to remove any lumps and beat the cheesecake batter at low speed to reduce the amount of air incorporated into the batter. I like to add a little grated lemon zest to the batter which seems to perk up all the flavors. Cheesecakes are baked in a slow oven to prevent cracking and are done when the filling is set but still a little wet and wobbly in the center. Let cool before covering and placing in the refrigerator for several hours, or even overnight.
You may not know that cream cheese is an American invention. Even though cheesecakes have been around since the 15th century it was not until the end of the 19th century that a New York dairy farmer came up with a rich cream based cheese that later became known as Philadelphia Cream Cheese. This creamy smooth, white and spreadable cheese contains at least 33% butterfat with gum arabic added to stabilize and to increase its shelf life. But not all cheesecakes are made with cream cheese. Some are made from cheeses like ricotta, curd cheese, mascarpone, and/or cottage cheese.