These mini cheesecakes are one of the best things I've ever made. And it’s a NO-BAKE recipe. And I’m a BAKING BLOGGER. I want to tell you I’m ashamed to say that but I can’t because my mouth is currently full of about 5 of these things right now. I woke up in the middle of the night to eat one, and it was literally what got me out of bed this morning: Coffee + No-Bake Cheesecake Bites.
I’m on a vanilla kick lately and I’m not sure why. Maybe because of all the fresh fruits and berries in season vanilla usually plays very well with them. I think making something that uses all the nuances of a true vanilla bean flavor isn't always easy. In many ways it can be the most seemingly-straightforward flavors that can be the most difficult to perfect and highlight it’s own uniqueness. I feel like I did that here, as well as the next cupcake recipe I’m working on for you guys. I promise I will make other flavors, but I really just cant stop thinking about vanilla right now. Maybe we’ll just start from there and build our way up, okay?
If you know anything about vanilla, it’s that despite that it’s name is synonymous with boring, it’s really anything but. Vanilla anything is good, but REAL vanilla is unparalleled. Did you know that the pods are harvested from a certain species of orchid that can only reproduce ONE day out of the year? Pollinated by only two naturally occurring methods? A certain species of…gulp…bee called the Melipone, a small hummingbird. Other than that the only other way to do it is by hand. And last time I checked bees and birds are much faster and aerodynamic than us. And this can only be done in FOUR locations in the entire world. Mexico, Tahiti, Madagascar, and Indonesia, although not as high-quality as the first three. All of these things, not to mention the harvesting and curing of the pods after their harvested is the reason that vanilla is the second most-expensive spice in the entire world. (The most expensive? Saffron.) So I hope this helps you understand and appreciate both the flavor AND cost of authentic vanilla bean.
This recipe, however, I used Nielsen Massey Vanilla Bean Paste and Vanilla Butternut Extract I got from King Arthur Flour. Its this combination that makes it dreamy and other-worldly. Aside from being AUTHENTIC, delicious and cream, it’s a nice cool break from the summer sun, and I can’t wait for you to try it!
No-Bake Vanilla Bean Mini Cheesecakes
Makes: 24 mini cheesecake cups
Time: 20 minutes for prep, 4-6 hours to chill
For the Crust:
1 C. Crushed graham crackers
5 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp kosher salt
For the Filling:
¾ C. Heavy whipping cream, plus 2 tbsp, divided
1/3 C. Powdered sugar
8 oz. cream cheese
2 tbsp Granulated sugar
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
2 tsp vanilla butternut extract
¾ C. Heavy Whipping Cream
¼ C. Powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
1. Place mixing bowl and whisk in the refrigerator to chill while preparing crust.
2. Pulverize the graham crackers in a food processor or zip-top bag and a rolling pin. Pour in the melted butter and salt to the crumbs until the mixture resembles wet sand.
3. Using a tsp measuring spoon, put approximately 1 ½ tsp of the graham cracker mixture into each cup, using the bottom of a shot glass to push it into the bottom securely.
4. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the heavy cream on medium speed until bubbles begin to form. At that point add in the powdered sugar slowly and beat on high until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
5. In the stand mixer again, this time with the paddle attachment, beat the softened cream cheese until smooth and creamy, and slowly add in the granulated sugar.
6. Once the sugar is incorporated, add in the remaining 2 tbsp of heavy cream, vanilla bean paste, and the vanilla butternut extract. Mix until creamy and free of any lumps.
7. Put the filling into a piping bag, or a zip-top bag with one corner snipped off, and pipe the cheesecake filling into each mini cup, leaving a little room. Smooth off the tops with a spatula or butter knife so they’re even.
8. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours, or overnight.
9. For the whipped cream topping: In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the whipping cream, sugar, vanilla and almond extract until stiff peaks form. Pipe onto the top of the cheesecakes, and top with sprinkles, fruit, or garnish! Enjoy!