Cooking and Recipes: A zesty spin on mini cheesecakes

Colin Crawford, Columnist

Cheesecake is one of the first desserts I learned how to bake. Sweet, creamy and delicious — it was always a family favorite. But we sometimes found it burdensome to keep eating large slices of cake. That’s why this recipe is so amazing. It’s the perfect portion size because you use a muffin tin or cupcake pan to make the small desserts, instead of the traditional 9-inch springform pan. 

Cheesecake may be simple, but it doesn’t have to be. My favorite part about making cheesecake is that you can customize it, and it still tastes great. I recommend zesting a whole lemon and including about a tablespoon of it in the batter of your cheesecake. The sour acidity of the zest will give it a nice bite because the citrus cuts through the density of the cream cheese. Oftentimes, I skip the whipped cream topping and rely on the fruit topping/cheesecake combination to really shine. 

This easy recipe is perfect for sharing, and the fruity topping is perfect for strawberry season. Enjoy!

Serves: 4-6 (makes 18 servings)   Hands-on time: 40 minutes  Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes Source: My Food and Family (Kraft)


1 cup graham cracker crumbs

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons  sugar, divided

3 tablespoons  butter or margarine, melted

3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs

1 cup whipping cream

2 cups strawberries

1 tablespoon lemon zest


  1. Heat oven to 325°F.
  2. Combine graham cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons sugar and butter; press onto bottoms of 18 paper-lined muffin cups.
  3. Beat cream cheese, vanilla and remaining sugar with mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Spoon over crusts.
  4. Bake 25-30 minutes or until centers are almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
  5. Beat whipping cream with mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form; spread onto cheesecakes. Top with strawberries and zest.

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Twitter: @ColinMCrawford

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