No time for cheesecake? Here’s a recipe to take away that tired excuse!

Tonight is the night the children in our family (and countless other families, I’d be willing to bet) have long been waiting to come…since the end of August, I believe:  the MUSICAL ANNOUNCEMENT NIGHT.  Our church has put on annual children’s musicals that just keep getting bigger and better every year, and this summer will be no exception.  There has been lots of buzz around here about what the title of the musical will be as well.  Will we finally tackle Noah and his big Ark? Can we pull off Jonah and somehow construct the innards of a stinky whale?  Should we try to do Jesus the Musical and have someone walk on water?  All these questions have run rampant for the past several months, but will be answered in a few short hours.

In addition to the hype and buildup of the announcement itself, after we finally learn what this year’s topic will be (most likely not Nimrod! The Musical and definitely not Adam and Eve! The Musical, though we could save a LOT on the costume budget that way…), we get to celebrate afterwards with a dessert potluck.  That’s where this post comes in.   Even though I love to cook (perhaps you noticed?), between schoolwork, life, and returning health issues, it’s been challenging to do the things I enjoy doing whenever I’d like.  So it didn’t take much thought to decide on the perfect quick-fix recipe that is sure to be a hit.  I found this idea last year when planning the food for my sister-in-law’s baby shower and have made them several times since.   I’m a big fan of traditional cheesecake, but this time around, there wasn’t time (or inclination, frankly) to start it last night.   These little gems are the next best thing and also allow for several different varieties of cheesecake at one time.  (Do I need to keep selling them, or are you convinced?)

The recipe is so very simple.   Place muffin papers in your muffin tins.  Place one Oreo cookie in the bottom of each.

*Note: these are off-brand Oreos, and I can really tell the difference here in size between the good ole’ Oreo and a knock-off brand.  Boo.  But since I was already crunched for time, I had to roll with it.  Next time, however, I will remember…

*Note #2: We have our annual stock of Girl Scout Cookies here too, and I toyed with using Thin Mints as the crust, but in the end, I selfishly decided that I’d rather keep those here with me.  The vultures of the Tighe tribe have already not just circled the boxes, but also have begun their attack.  There aren’t many left.

cookietins

And just like that, the crust is done.  Does it feel like you’re cheating your way to cheesecake?  Perhaps. Maybe a little.

cookiecloseup

The next step is pretty much run-of-the-mill instructions for just about any cheesecake known to man.   Mix together softened cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and lemon juice.   Here’s a shot of Ben pouring the sugar in, just in case I went too fast through that list:

creamsugar

(My choices of fillings are photobombing in the background….)  It’s important to make sure the filling is completely blended, so pull out the rubber scraper of your choice and make sure you swipe the bottom of the bowl where unmixed cream cheese likes to hide.  This is the part where, if you have kids, they will most likely walk by and offer, “Wow, I know these cheesecakes will turn out great, but right now that smells GROSS!”   Why, thank you for the encouragement, my little ones.  You always know how to keep me going.

In any case, here’s a good shot of the well-blended filling:

mixer

This picture reminds me of Andrew’s question this morning, while it mixed:  “Mom, can we PLEASE turn it up to 10!??!”

Next, fill the cups a tad more than halfway (would that be 2/3?  5/8?  I don’t know.  I just eyeball and pray.)  The recipe I used said for 2 8oz bricks of cream cheese that I would get 16-18 cheesecakes, but I got closer to 24.  Maybe I’m chintzy on my amounts.

cakeintins

I don’t know; that doesn’t look stingy to me!  After that, it’s up to you what to add, if anything.  You could leave them just as they are and add sauce (either berry or chocolate) afterwards.  Today I had a few strawberries left, so I chopped them finely and sprinkled them on a few cakes.   I had literally about five raspberries still in the freezer, so we crushed them and sprinkled them over some more.   On the remaining tops, I scattered some mini chocolate chips.  While writing this, I had the thought to divide the filling into two, and add melted and cooled chocolate to one half for a marbled look.  That’s borderline too much work, however, for these easy cheesecakes, and probably should be left for the springform pan big brother cheesecake variety.

The strawberry looked like this:

berrytins

And here are the raspberry and chocolate chip:

raspchiptins

It just takes a quick 20-25 minute trip in a 325 oven and they’re done.  Refrigerate for at least three hours before serving and you’ll be so glad you spent the short amount of time to make these lovely little treats.  Unless you don’t care for cheesecake, in which case you should absolutely ignore this entire post.

finished

I made a few extra over what I plan to bring with us to the musical announcement tonight so we can each enjoy one without fighting to get to the head of the line at church.  That wouldn’t be very Christian-like, now, would it?

Since dessert is ready, the only thing left to do is to consider what the musical will be….Hmmmmmm…….

Mini Oreo Cheesecakes

2 8 oz packages of cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 T lemon juice

Oreo cookies

Preheat oven to 325.  Place one cookie in the bottom of each paper-lined muffin tin.  Mix together cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice until well blended.  Add eggs, one at a time, scraping sides and bottom of bowl to ensure incorporation.  Spoon filling into muffin cups about 2/3 full.  Add toppings of chopped berries or mini chocolate chips, if desired.  Bake in 325 oven for 20 minutes, or until almost set. Cool.  refrigerate for at least three hours before serving.

bite2

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