Now for the cheesecake....
This is a huge hit during the holidays, not only to bring to a party but as a gift to your neighbors, friends and family. Plus, the topping possibilities are nearly endless! So use your imagination. The jars are half pint, and I got them at my local store ( Fred Meyer ) but have seen them at other hardware stores and Safeway as well. They were $10 for the dozen.
1 ½ cups of Crushed Graham Crackers
1/4 cup of Sugar
¼ cup of Butter, Melted
3 pkgs of 8oz Cream Cheese, Softened
1 can of 14oz Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk )
2 Tsp Vanilla ( I eyeball it )
12 Half Pint Jars
Very few steps, cheap ingredients, and very little time, you can do this. Ready?
1. Make a Graham Cracker Crust, Grab your kids for this part of it, because it's easy and they can smash stuff: Mix together crushed crackers, butter and sugar.
2. Press equally on the bottoms of the jars, it's about two large spoonfuls. You can use your fingers, I used a glass cork because it happened to be laying nearby. Otherwise, I'm usually not that fancy :)
3. Filling: Whip the cream cheese until it's fluffy, then slowly add the condensed milk. When that is smooth, add the eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Now dip your finger in that goodness. Need more vanilla? Add another splash. Did you know that Vanilla is an aphrodisiac? *wink*
4. With a large spoon, evenly distribute the filling into the jars. It should not reach the top. You'll now need a couple large casserole dishes or deep baking pans, fill them with boiling hot water so that the water line hits to about half of the jar. Carefully put them in the oven at 350 for 25 minutes.
5. Now go clean up. There's bound to be cheesecake filling on multiple surfaces and your sink, full. You'll thank yourself later for doing so !
At 25 minutes, take a peak in the oven, they should still jiggle and look firm (some may have tiny cracks) but they shouldnt be golden brown or anything.
THIS is the hardest part. Turn your oven off, send the kids out of the kitchen and grab your best hot gloves/pads. SLOWLY and VERY CAREFULLY take these boiling dishes out of the oven. It is a balancing act, but remember this is scolding hot water. Dont be intimidated though. I mean, you may lose a hand in the process, but the cheesecakes taste amazing so it's worth it.
Ok, are they all out? Did you survive? Everything in tact?
Bravo ( *claps with both hands*)
Take the jars out of the water bath and set them on the counters to cool. I usually put them in the fridge right away when I need them that night. They do take 1-2 hours to cool, so take that into consideration if you are wanting to serve them.
I chose to use mini chocolate chips and raspberries. For the raspberry ones, I mashed up a few with sugar to make a quicky jam and spread that on, then added the berries on top, it was a hit. You can do the same with blackberries or strawberries. Use your imagination on this one!
This recipe is super old ( thanks mom ) and I've always done it with baking cups ( same recipe, but makes about 30 cupcake sized cheesecakes ) and it's always a hit. The canned cherries are very festive on these cheesecakes, just plop 3 cherries/syrup down on them and add a sprig of holly, they look so cool.