Mini Cheesecakes

I was a hard child to please when it came to food.  As one of the best eaters in the family as a toddler, things went downhill quickly as I got older.  For some reason I didn't even love the chocolate chip cookies my mom made all the time as I kid (what was I thinking??).  I had a lot of trouble with breakfast in particular, memorably getting sick several times when my mom insisted I eat something she'd made for breakfast.  I'm still really particular about how I eat eggs in the morning.
Where's this going, you might be asking?  In an effort to get me to eat anything in the morning, I often had leftovers for breakfast.  It was not strange to me to be eating pasta with meatballs, macaroni and cheese, or chicken noodle soup.  But my favorite breakfasts (surprise surprise) were when we had some leftover mini cheesecakes.  It took me awhile to realize cheesecake was delicious (the name didn't sell it to me as an 8-year old), and I soon requested mini cheesecakes from my mom for birthday desserts and any time I could get her to make them!
I'm not sure how I won the argument to first have leftover cheesecake for breakfast, but I probably said that cream cheese and fruit were involved, so it counted.  These mini cheesecakes did not last long when I was eating them for breakfast, snacks, and dessert!  They've even been renamed "Cindy's Favorite Individual Cheesecakes" in my mom's recipe book.
They're super simple too!  The crust is just a vanilla wafer cookie.  The cheesecake itself is cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract.  No water bath, no hour-long bake time with hours of resting.  If you want cheesecake now, these are the way to go!
And fresh fruit is the perfect compliment to these!  Strawberries and blackberries are amazing right now!  But if you just want a drizzle of chocolate sauce to call it a day, go for it.  Or salted caramel?  Yum!
I thought Liz would enjoy the pretty mini cheesecakes for her bridal shower, but I have to admit that I was excited to nom on these as well.
They're cute and festive, and a little something extra you don't get to have all the time!
Another bonus is that vanilla wafers can be swapped out really quickly for gluten-free options.  I've had these with a "crust" of an oreo placed in the bottom, so gluten-free sandwich cookies are an excellent option!
Even if you're not making these with the intent of eating them for breakfast, haha, I think these are the perfect simple mini cheesecakes to add to any celebration!
Cindy's Favorite Individual Cheesecakes
makes 18 to 20

1 lb. softened cream cheese
3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vanilla wafers, Oreos (gluten-free if needed), or Graham cracker crumb mixture (recipe below)
Toppings as desired: Fruit pie filling, fresh fruit, chocolate sauce, salted caramel sauce...

Preheat oven at 375 degrees.  Place baking cups into muffin tins.  Place 1 vanilla wafer in each cup.  Mix first four ingredients until smooth. Spoon mixture on top of wafer until about 2/3 full.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until puffy and not jiggly in the center. Spoon cherry pie filling on tops and refrigerate. Makes 18 to 20 cheesecakes.

**Graham cracker crumb crust recipe: 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/3 cups melted butter or margarine. Mix together. Put 1 tablespoon of mixture into each baking cup. Press slightly. Makes 20 cheesecakes exactly.

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