One impulse buy—those sweet miniature cheesecake molds were just calling my name—and a few packages of cream cheese later, my cheddar fears reigned no longer. I harnessed the power of gelatin (and the freezer) to create what I personally think are the cutest confections known to man.
I whipped up a classic graham cracker crust, which I let set in the freezer while a created the light and creamy filling. Don't be fooled by the title, either; this recipe doesn't get its name by dumping red sauce over a plain-Jane vanilla cheesecake. Instead, I folded a dollop of my favorite berry preserves right into the batter. It was a bold move that yielded plenty of fruit flavor and the perfect shade of girlish pink.
Who said cheesecakes have to be tough to make? I have a feeling I'll be making these pinchable little treats all spring (and summer) long!
No-bake Strawberry Cheesecakes
Makes 12 individual cheesecakes
For the crust
1 sleeve graham crackers (10 sheets), finely crushed
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
For the filling
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup strawberry preserves
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons buttermilk or milk
Strawberry slices, for garnish
For the crust, stir the graham crackers, brown sugar, and melted butter together in a medium bowl. Fill each individual cheesecake "mold" (or muffin pan filled with cupcake liners) with 2 tablespoons of crust and pack firmly. Freeze until ready to fill.
To make the filling, whisk the gelatin and cold water in a small microwave-safe bowl and set aside for 5 minutes. Microwave the mixture on high until melted, about 15 - 20 seconds. Whisk until dissolved and set aside. Allow to cool completely (but not harden).
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium-high until soft and silky, 4 - 5 minutes. Turn mixer to low and add the strawberry jam, buttermilk, and vanilla until combined. Pour the gelatin in a steady stream and continue beating until well combined. Fill each cheesecake "mold" almost to the top with filling. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours and preferably overnight. Garnish with sliced strawberries and serve immediately.
Recipe sponsored by Cool Whip Whipped Topping.
(Images: Nealey Dozier)