This is a go to for any event. I feel sneaky whenever people compliment it because it is so easy and there is nothing to it.
2 8oz. packages of cream cheese
3/4 C sugar
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
7-9 graham cracker sheets
1/2 C chopped roasted pecans
3/4 STICK of butter melted
topping of your choice
Preheat the oven to 425°. Bring the cream cheese to room temp. I never remember so it’s o.k. if you don’t. Process the graham crackers in a food processor until fine. I cannot imagine how one would do this without a food processor and achieve this texture, but you can put it in a heavy duty ziplock bag and beat it to a pulp with the back of a large spoon. Add, the chopped pecan and continue until you have a fine crumble. Transfer to a bowl and mix in, with a wooden spoon, the melted butter. I haven’t met a person that isn’t all about the crust so I give it the same care as the filling. I like to add some sugar (approx. 1 T) and cinnamon (approx. 1/2 tsp) to sweeten it up. Test the consistency of the crust before proceeding, it should hold if you press it with the back of a spoon. If it is still crumbling, at more melted butter. Using a tablespoon or large spoon, scoop a mound of crust and put in cup of cheesecake pan or muffin pan and press until you have an even crust. O.k. let me interject, GET A MINI CHEESECAKE PAN! I made these for years with a muffin pan and would spend so long trying to neatly scoop out the cheesecake when there were ready. With the cheesecake pan the bottom pushes out so it is literally a quick press of the finger and you have the neatest little cake. If you have a tart tamper it works wonders for pressing down the crust.
For the filling, beat the cream cheese to reduce chances of lumping. Beat in sugar until fluffy and well blended. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Pour into each cup, filling it almost to the top. They don’t rise that much. Bake for 15 minutes*. Remove from oven, cool, and refrigerate overnight. Add whatever topping you like. I usually make a caramel sauce and top it with a sugar-covered roasted pecan, but I tried caramelizing Amaretto liqueur and topping with a fresh raspberry and that seemed to win people over.
*It is best if you can bake the pan in water, it allows for uniform heating so the cake doesn’t sink in the middle. I wrap the pan in foil and sit it in an extra large pan with water. Enjoy!!