When it comes to desserts, there are so many choices! But, one of my favorites to make is cheesecake. Cheesecake seems to be a crowd pleaser, no matter where it's brought.
Not only is it pretty easy to make, but it doesn't require many ingredients either. This means that the cost to make it ends up being pretty low per batch, and per individual serving. Which makes it easier to stay within the monthly food budget.
The really fun part is adding a surprise element to it! This one little addition can turn a regular old cheesecake into something exciting and unique. And the best part is, that you can play around with the surprise aspect of these mini cheesecakes to continually keep people on their toes.
What You'll Need
Luckily, the ingredient list is pretty small for these lovely desserts. For the original recipe, I use either full-size Reese's cups or the mini Reese's cups, which is what is listed in this recipe. But, I like to switch up the surprises, so that my audience never knows what to expect. Therefore, I have used other things, such as:
- Mini Heath bars
- M & M's
- Reese's Pieces
- Strawberry or Blueberry jam
The possibilities truly are endless!
First things first though. Let's get to the ingredients you will need for this specific surprise cheesecake recipe.
- 2 packages Cream Cheese (8 oz each)
- 2 Eggs
- ½ Cup Sugar (we use organic cane sugar)
- ½ tsp Vanilla
- 6 Gluten Free Graham Crackers
- 4 Tbsp Butter
- 12 Mini Reese’s (or regular) size Peanut Butter Cups
Most of these ingredients should be pretty easy to come by. If I am not going to a store that carries Reese's brand peanut butter cups while I am out on my grocery run, then I will use the store brand of whatever their equivalent is instead. Sometimes, this actually ends up being cheaper and tastes the same. Plus, I don't have to travel all over the place to find it. So use whatever is convenient for you.
- Open cream cheese and place in a large mixing bowl to come to room temperature. You may want to do this an hour or so before you plan to begin, just so that it is softened enough to work with.
- Grind GF Graham Crackers in a Bullet, Vitamix, or good old fashioned blender. While a Vitamix can be a bit on the pricier side, we use ours almost daily, so it has been well worth the money. And it does the job in at least half the time, which is a huge bonus for us!
- Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl.
- Add GF Graham Crackers to melted butter and stir until crackers are thoroughly soaked.
- Line muffin pan with muffin tins/liners, if desired. If not, then grease with oil of your choosing.
- Using your hands, line each muffin tin with the Graham Cracker/butter mix for the cheesecake crust.
- Open all Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and place one on top of the crust in each muffin tin.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Add eggs, sugar, and vanilla into the large mixing bowl with room temperature cream cheese.
- Mix on medium speed until smooth (depending on the temperature of the cream cheese and the mixer, this can take anywhere from 4 – 10 minutes).
- Add cream cheese mixture to each lined muffin tin until approximately full. Cheesecake has a tendency to rise and then will fall some once it cools, so keep this in mind when you are filling your cups.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, depending on oven.
- Check with a toothpick, to ensure cheesecakes are done baking.
- Let cool until room temperature.
- Once they are completely cooled, then remove them from the muffin tin.
- Put them in an airtight container and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Yield: 12 servings
Time & Money Requirements
This may seem like it takes quite a while, based on the steps and the recipe. But in reality, it is not that time consuming at all.
The most time-consuming part of the whole active process is taking the wrappers off of peanut butter cups. From start to the time I pop them in the oven, it takes approximately 15 minutes. However, a good 5 – 8 minutes of that is when the mixer is doing its work smoothing out the lumps. So while it is working, I am washing dishes for a quick clean-up.
While they don't take much time to make, how does the pricing shape up, you may be asking?
Since cream cheese and graham crackers can be more expensive items, depending on the brand and style, then the pricing can vary. We are a gluten-free household and that can get a little bit more expensive. If you aren't eating gluten-free, then substitute with other options and it will help you save some money.
- 2 packages Cream Cheese (8 oz each) – $2.68 per package x 2 = $5.36
- 2 Eggs – $2.46 per dozen/6 = $.41
- ½ Cup Sugar – 32 oz bag = $3.75/4 = $.94
- ½ tsp Vanilla – 2 oz bottle = $2.14/24 = $.09
- 6 Gluten Free Graham Crackers – $5.36 per box (14 crackers per box)/14 = $.38 per cracker x 6 = $2.28
- 4 Tbsp Butter (1/2 stick) – 1 lb = $4.29/8 = $.54
- 12 Mini Reese’s (or regular) size Peanut Butter Cups – $3.20 per bag/40 pieces per bag = $.08 x 12 pieces = $.96
Total per batch = $10.58
Total per cheesecake = $.88
As you can see, these little cheesecakes don't take much time to create and they are pretty cost effective also. Those are two of the things we strive for any time we are making a recipe.
The recipe can become even more budget friendly if you substitute non-gluten free graham crackers, or some other element of surprise instead of Reese's mini cups. One time, we topped these mini cheesecakes with a blueberry and a sprig of mint. The flavor combination was absolutely delicious and the presentation gave the recipe just a little bit more pizzazz.
Any time we serve these, people are excited to see what we decided to put inside of them as a surprise. We like to keep people guessing! And with this simple cheesecake recipe, the surprise options really are pretty endless.
Now that you have the recipe, what sort of mini cheesecake surprises can you whip up?
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