Iowa Food and Family Project
Fall Into Comfort Foods
Family gatherings aren’t complete without a decadent dessert to dive into after a satisfying meal. Sometimes during holidays or family gatherings I just don’t want to fuss with all of the slicing and serving, so single-portion desserts are the way to go. This gorgeous little dessert combines all of the best things: a crisp graham cracker crust, smooth and creamy filling and topped off with a tart cherry and red raspberry topping. Bonus: a hint of lemon balances out the cheesecake and buttery crust for a dessert that’s equal parts rich and refreshing.
Sweet treats bring me all the comfort and memories of my Grandma Celeste. She always hosted dinners on Sunday nights when I was younger and those times spent with her and my Grandpa Gerald are still some of my fondest, most-vivid memories from growing up. There’s just something about familiar flavors that take you back — transporting you back to sacred times with special people. I remember that Grandma Celeste obsessed over anything citrus, and I now attribute my love of citrus to the genes I inherited from her. Anytime I enjoy citrus I think of her; even if only for a moment.
The exceptionally chilly temperatures have kept us busy making sure that all of our pigs stay comfortable. We are constantly checking water lines, bedding for the pigs outdoors and that our new piglets in the barn are warm under heat lamps. As we enter a season of brutal temperatures and driving snow, we as farmers take extra steps to ensure our animals are safe and well-cared-for this time of year. While all of this excitement leaves less time for holiday preparations, I’m OK with that. After all, spending time with my kids in the barn is my favorite pastime and, quite simply, it’s the right thing to do.
That’s where easy, make-ahead recipes save the day — or holiday, for that matter. These two-bite treats can be prepared up to two days in advance by simply covering and stashing in the refrigerator before your Christmas festivities. For even more fun, serve in colorful foil muffin wrappers to bring out the colors of the season.
Cherry Red Raspberry Mini Cheesecakes
Makes 1 dozen
1 package graham crackers, 9 sheets
1 TBSP sugar
5 TBSP butter, melted, warm
For the Filling
1 ½ packages (12 oz) cream cheese
2 TBSP sour cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs 1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 small can of cherry pie filling
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
Sweetened whipped cream*
(*1 cup heavy whipping cream, 2 TBSP powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract: beat with mixer until soft peaks form, keep chilled)
- Crush graham crackers in a gallon-sized zip top bag. Add sugar and melted butter. Mix together inside of bag.
- Line a 12 cup muffin tin with liners.
- Gently scoop one rounded tablespoon of graham cracker mixture into each muffin cup. Press slightly with fingers to flatten.
- Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sour cream and sugar, mix until combined. Add eggs, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Mix until combined.
- When crust is set, remove muffin tin from oven, scoop prepared filling into each muffin cup, 3/4 full. Bake at 350° F for 20 minutes until slightly golden on edges and puffy throughout. Let cool to room temperature. Chill well.
- To serve: Gently fold raspberries into the cherry pie filling. Scoop a generous tablespoon of topping onto each mini cheesecake. Pipe on a swirl of sweetened whipped cream. Serve chilled.