It has been documented on here that I fear making cheesecakes, but that’s not exactly true. I don’t fear cheesecake, I fear a leaking springform pan in a water bath (bain marie). Yes, I know you are supposed to wrap it in foil, but I’ve never seen anyone explain in exacting, painstaking, borderline-dull detail how you should do that so that there is absolutely no risk of leakage. And so, I have still (!!!) never made a traditional baked-in-a-springform cheesecake.
I have, however, made cheescake bars, cheesecake thumbprints, cheesecake brownies, cheesecake blondies, vegan cheesecakes, and now two different kinds of Mini Mason Jar Cheesecakes, because while I may not be super brave, I am nothing if not a problem solver.These Mini Mason Jar Chocolate Cheesecakes are SO good, y’all. So. Good. And they come in very cute, water tight, social distancing-approved serving vessels. Super rich, chocolaty filling, Oreo crust *and* no fiddling with a springform pan? Sign me up!The crusts for these little cheesecakes are just Oreos and melted butter blitzed together in a food processor. Spoon a couple tablespoons into each of your mason jars and give them a few minutes in the oven before adding your filling.This chocolate cheesecake filling is super chocolaty from melted dark chocolate and cocoa powder, and has a little extra depth from light brown sugar (though granulated works too). The rest of the ingredients are standard cheesecake fare: cream cheese, sour cream, vanilla and an egg.By far, the most important advice I can give you about making cheesecake is to make absolutely sure that your ingredients are at room temperature. If you’re more organized than I am, you can set your cream cheese out the night before. If you’re like me, just let it hang out (in its packaging) in a bowl of lukewarm tap water for 15 minutes. Throw your egg in there for maximum efficiency.You can make the filling in your food processor (just wipe it out) or use a mixer. Either way, make sure to give the bowl some taps on the counter and let it rest a few minutes to release any large air bubbles before baking. Then spoon it onto your crusts and bake for about 25 minutes. Let the baked cheesecakes hang out in their water bath for five more minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely. This brief step helps them transition from the hot oven to your cooler counters more seamlessly. Cheesecakes are divas, in case you couldn’t already tell.Once your chocolate cheesecakes hit room temperature, throw them in the fridge for a few hours to get nice and cold. This will seem endless, but will give you plenty of time to dream up toppings. I went for my new favorite Chocolate Whipped Cream and chocolate sprinkles, but you could do chocolate shell, chopped candy bars, fresh fruit or anything else your heart desires.I won’t lie to you, Mini Mason Jar Chocolate Cheesecakes are a commitment, but take one bite and I promise you’ll agree that theyre entirely worth the effort. They’re super smooth and tangy with a big hit of chocolate, and that Oreo crust…well, I think we can all agree that Oreo crust should probably run for president.And on that note, enjoy this unofficial last weird weekend of this extremely weird summer. It’ll be two more weeks before I break out the pumpkin, and while that seems like eternity, I hope these chocolate cheesecakes soften the blow.
Mini Mason Jar Chocolate Cheesecakes
makes 6 small cheesecakes
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 8 ounce brick full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup full-fat sour cream (or Greek yogurt), room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2.5 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled
1 large egg, room temperature
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease 6 4-ounce mason jars.
Make the crust. Place Oreos and melted butter in the bowl of a food processor and process until the mixture resembles wet sand, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Spoon 2 tablespoons of the crust mixture into eat prepared mason jar. Press down to form a crust. Place mason jar crusts in a high-rimmed dish. Bake crust for 10 minutes. Cool on a rack while you prepare the filling.
Make cheesecake filling. You have two options:
If using a food processor: Wipe out any errant crust pieces. Add cream cheese, brown sugar and cocoa powder to the bowl of the food processor and process until smooth, stopping and scraping down the sides as necessary. Add sour cream and vanilla and process until smooth. Whirl in melted chocolate. Add egg and process just until combined. Tap bowl on the counter 10 times and let batter rest 10 minutes.
If using a mixer: In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese until fluffy. Mix in brown sugar and cocoa powder, followed by sour cream and vanilla, until mixture is smooth. Mix in chocolate. Add egg and mix just until combined. Tap bowl on the counter 10 times and let batter rest 10 minutes.
Once your batter is rested, divide the cheesecake mixture into the mason jars, about 1/4 cup each. Use the back of a spoon to lightly smooth out the tops, then tap each one on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles. Return jars to the high-rimmed pan, and place the pan on a counter near the oven.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Remove from heat. Carefully pour water into the baking pan until it is halfway up the sides of the cheesecakes. Do not get water in the mason jars. Carefully move pan into the oven. Bake 25 minutes, or until puffed and *barely* jiggly in the centers. Let cheesecakes stay in their water bath for 5 more minutes.
Use tongs to carefully remove mason jar cheesecakes to a rack. Do not get water in the mason jars.
Let cheesecakes cool completely on a rack; the centers will collapse a bit. Transfer to the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or until thoroughly chilled. If not serving immediately, cover with plastic wrap. Garnish with chocolate whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles, homemade chocolate shell, or other desired topping before serving.
Store leftover cheesecakes in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. To freeze, press plastic wrap to the surfaces of the cheesecakes and screw on mason jar lids. Freeze for up to one month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight or in a dish of lukewarm water at room temperature for an hour.