Filed under: Cheesecakes
September 1, 2023

Small Batch Cheesecake

Super creamy small batch cheesecake with a graham cracker crust for those occasions when you need a delicious dessert, for a small party. This a quick, easy and simple recipe that yields around six slices of delicious vanilla cheesecake.

5 from 8 votes
Yield: 6 slices
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Super creamy small batch cheesecake with a graham cracker crust for those occasions when you need a delicious dessert, for a small party. This a quick, easy and simple recipe that yields around six slices of delicious vanilla cheesecake.

So you want cheesecake but you don’t want the commitment of 4 bricks of cream cheese and six eggs and some ungodly amount of cream. You just want something simple but utterly delicious: this is for you.

 

Recipe Overview

This recipe was requested by a reader; who emailed me a list of requests/dessert ideas and there was one idea that stuck with me: a small batch of cheesecake.

I just love my cheesecakes. I have a brown butter cheesecake which is probably one of the most popular recipes on the site. I would marry my lemon curd cheesecake. Come fall you know I’ll be reducing a jug of cider because I must have my apple cider cheesecake for thanksgiving.

And I just thought, well wouldn’t it be nice for just me and my little family to have a little cheesecake we could enjoy together over a day or two without having half a pie leftover? I figured there’s got to be some others who would feel this way. And this could be my gateway cheesecake into their hearts!

 

what’s great about this recipe

You don’t need a ton of ingredients. One brick of cream cheese! One and a half if you want to do the topping (the topping is WORTH IT). One egg! This is the kind of dessert that’s simple, straightforward and works with limited ingredients.

But most importantly, it sacrifices absolutely nothing in flavor and you’ll find a few of my signature cheesecake moves in this recipe: some steps to remove any pesky cheese lumps, my simple parchment paper lined pan-in-a-bigger-pan water bath so it bakes up wonderfully creamy, and the addition of sour cream to make it even smoother and tangier. It’s a perfect little cheesecake in every way.

Recipe Ingredients

Cookie crumbs: Graham crackers or digestive cookies will work for the crust. If you are using something else, like a gingersnap or a cookie that’s more butter-based you’ll want to use less butter

Butter: Unsalted or salted butter is fine. We’ll use the melted butter in the crust.

Powdered sugar: This is optional, but I find the added sweetness/starch helps firm up the crust of the cheesecake.

Cream cheese: Full fat cream cheese is best because it will give you a firm but creamy cheesecake. Be sure to bring the cream cheese to room temperature before you start making the filling.

Sour cream: Full fat as well. You can substitute it with labneh. Greek yogurt substitutes aren’t as great because they tend to have more water and the cheesecake will be wetter and might have a slightly ‘yogurty’ flavor.

Egg: Just one! Set it in a bowl of warm water to bring it to room temperature.

Vanilla: This is our main flavor addition so let’s make it good! Vanilla bean paste or a scraped up fresh vanilla bean is perfect. If not, use a full tablespoon of pure vanilla extract.

Salt: Fine sea salt. If you are using any other kind of salt, halve the amount or the cheesecake will taste salty.

Lemon (optional): Depending on how lemony you want the flavor to be you can add: fresh lemon zest (from ~2 lemons), a half of a teaspoon of lemon extract or a teaspoon or two of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Rubbing the zest into the sugar beforehand helps release more of its flavor.

Heavy whipping cream: This will be for the cream cheese whipped topping. Heavy cream works too.

How to make a ‘small batch’ of cheesecake

Soften the cream cheese 

Depending on the temperature of your kitchen, you might want to take the cream cheese out an hour or up to 4 hours ahead of time. In the winter I find I need at least a few for the brick to soften. In the summer, about 1.5 is usually enough. It’s super important the cream cheese is soft, if it’s cold you will have lumps in your cheesecake batter that are quite difficult to get out.

Prep the pan & preheat the oven

Grease the pan, this will help the parchment paper stick to it. If you are using a round pan, press a sheet of paper that will fit with some overhang, then press the paper best you can into the bottom then use metal clips to hold it in place. If you’re using a loaf pan, tear a sheet that’s as wide as the longer side of your loaf pan and will fit as an overhang so you can easily lift the cheesecake out.

Make the crust 

Once you have your crumbs ground up into bits and the butter melted, mix the two together (along with the sugar, if using) until the crumbs are fully covered in the butter. You’ll be able to tell by squeezing the crumbs in your palm and they’ll hold together.

 

If you are using something other than graham cracker crumbs or digestive crumbs, something that’s more buttery, you’ll want to add less butter. Drop a tablespoon from the measurements below and test it by doing the palm squeeze and seeing if the crumbs hold together but aren’t overly oily.

Press the crust into the pan

Mostly you want an even layer at the bottom, and a slight border at the sides. Don’t worry too much about making it perfectly straight, as long as it’s packed in at the bottom and on the sides, it will bake up just fine.

Bake the crust 

Baking the crust helps firm it up so that later, when you go to slice the cheesecake, the crumbs don’t fall apart. This is a mini cheesecake so it won’t take long, 5-7 minutes at 350 F.

Cool the crust while you’re making the filling and lower the temperature to 325 F.

 

Press the cream cheese 

I forgot to do this in the video but it’s good practice! Use a rubber spatula to press the cheesecake into the bowl. This helps smooth out those pesky lumps

Beat the cheese & sugar 

Add the sugar, vanilla and salt to the cream cheese and, using a hand mixer, begin to beat on low then going up to medium speed it until it’s creamy.

You can also do this in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, but since it’s such a small batch it might be a bit more difficult for the paddle to reach the mix.

Stop mixing at least once or twice to scrape down the bowl so you don’t have unmixed cream cheese. At one of these points add the sour cream and beat that in too.

Beat in the egg 

Crack in the egg and beat but be careful with how long you beat it so you don’t over-whip the batter. Once the egg is mixed in, stop.

Optional step: sieve the mix 

If you see any lumps in your batter, it might be a good idea to press the filling through a fine mesh sieve. I usually do this into another bowl rather than right into the pan, otherwise things can get messy.

Prepare the water bath 

Grab a pan that’s bigger than the one you’re using to bake the cheesecake. I find an 8 or 9″ square pan works well with a loaf or 6″ round cake pan. Fill the pan halfway with water then carefully place the cheesecake in the center.

Bake the cheesecake 

Set the water bath/cheesecake in the middle rack. Bake it until the top is matte and there’s a very slight jiggle in the center.

Cool the cheesecake 

When you take the cheesecake out of the oven, leave it on the counter in the water bath for a bit until it’s cool enough to remove. This will help it cool slowly.

Cream cheese whipped cream topping

This added topping makes the cheesecake even more special; it’s like having a no-bake cheesecake layer on top of the baked cheesecake! It’s also a stabilized whipped cream recipe so it’ll last a few days in the fridge without weeping or separating.

To make it we’ll process all of the ingredients together in a food processor until it thickens then spread atop the cheesecake.

How best to store cheesecake

I tend to leave mine open on a plate in the fridge, with the expectation it will be gone in at least 2-3 days. Sometimes this leads to parts of the cheesecake getting slightly gummy so if you wanted to prevent that, put it in an airtight container.

The cheesecake will be good to eat, as long as it’s stored in the fridge, for about 4-5 days.

Pan sizes recommended for a small batch cheesecake

An 8-9 inch loaf pan or a 5 or 6 inch round pan.

Small Batch Cheesecake Recipe



Small Batch Cheesecake

Super creamy small batch cheesecake with a graham cracker crust for those occasions when you need a delicious dessert, for a small party. This a quick, easy and simple recipe that yields around six slices of delicious vanilla cheesecake.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Chill Time: 4 hours
Yields: 6 slices
5 from 8 votes

Ingredients

Crust

  • 120 g or 1 cup cookie crumbs graham crackers or digestive cookies
  • 57 g or ¼ cup butter melted
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar optional helps bind the crust together

Filling

  • 226 g or 1 brick package cream cheese at room temperature
  • 60 g or ¼ cup sour cream
  • 100 g or ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 scraped vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla paste
  • 1 large egg
  • Pinch fine sea salt

Topping

  • 240 g or 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 113 g or ½ package cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla bean paste
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar or granulated sugar

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a loaf pan with a parchment paper sling.
  • In a bowl, stir together the cookie crumbs, butter and powdered sugar until the crumbs are wet, covered in butter and hold together.
  • Press the crumbs into the bottom of the prepared loaf pan and slightly up the sides of the pan.
  • Bake the crust for about 7 minutes, until toasty and fragrant. Let the crust cool while you make the filling. Lower the oven temperature to 325 F.

Make the filling

  • Set the cream cheese in a bowl and use the back of a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to press down on the cream cheese. This helps remove any lumps.
  • Add the sugar, vanilla and salt to the bowl and use a hand mixer to beat it into the cream cheese.
  • Add the sour cream and beat until smooth. Add the egg and beat until just combined, don’t over mix the filling.
  • At this point, if you can spot lumps in the mix you can press the filling through a fine mesh sieve. If it looks smooth, don’t bother.
  • Pour the filling over the crust. Set the pan in a larger baking pan, (an 8x8 or 9x9” square pan will do) and fill the bigger pan halfway with water. This will be the water bath.
  • Set the water bath/cheesecake in the oven on the middle rack and bake for about 30-35 minutes, until the cheesecake looks set. It will only jiggle just slightly in the center when it’s done and it will have a matte (rather than shiny) topping.
  • Remove the pan(s) from the oven and let the cheesecake cool slightly in the water bath. Then remove it and let it cool on the counter to room temperature.
  • Set the cheesecake in the fridge to chill overnight.

Make the stabilized whipped cream cheesecake topping

  • Set the sugar, cream cheese, salt and vanilla in a food processor (you can also do this in a bowl with a hand mixer) and blend until smooth. Add the heavy cream and run the food processor on high until thickened.
  • Spread the whipped cream over the cheesecake.
  • Serve and store cold! Cheesecake will keep for about 5 days without the whipped cream on top, and about 2 with the whipped cream.

Notes

Bake this in a loaf pan or a 5 or 6” cake pan, line with parchment paper and metal clips

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Recipe Reviews




  1. 5 stars
    Every year I make my husband a pineapple cheesecake for his birthday, as it was always his favourite as a kid. I can never find a recipe for actual pineapple cheesecake and full size recipes are always too much for our small family. I simply added 1 cup of drained crushed pineapple to this recipe, baked it a little longer and it is absolutely delicious. I usually make a different recipe each year but I will definitely be coming back to this one. Thank you!