Creamy, decadent, (almost) sugar-free, gluten-free, and low-carb cheesecake bites in a “just right” portion size. Makes one dozen cupcake-sized mini cheesecakes.
OK, I admit it, I’m lazy sometimes when it comes to going to the store, especially on a cold, gray day like today. I need to make a dessert for friends tonight, and I’m missing key ingredients for just about everything I can think to make. I’ll sometimes spend an hour scouring through the pantry and fridge to come up with something, rather than just grabbing the keys and going to the store a half mile from my house. To be fair, I’m also in recovery from holiday sugar overload, and wanted something low-sugar and low-carb, with just the right hint of chocolate for the perfect dessert. I came up with this dense, lovely cheesecake, with just the right bite of chocolate to make it a real treat. Silicone baking cups make these easy to unmold after baking.
- 16 oz cream cheese, warmed to room temperature
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt* or sour cream, warmed to room temperature
- 2 large eggs, warmed to room temperature
- 2 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp lemon oil or 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 1/8 tsp kosher salt**
*You can use any commercial plain Greek yogurt, but I make my own tangy, thick Greek yogurt in my Instant Pot. It has the perfect flavor and consistency for cheesecake, but sour cream would work just as well.
**Due to the size of the grain, kosher salt is less “salty” than regular table salt, and it helps to balance out the sweetness of the filling.
- 2 1/2 cups ground pecans, lightly toasted
- 2 1/2 tablespoons stevia, or other sweetener of choice that is suitable for baking
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Dark chocolate of choice, for drizzling
Slightly toast pecans in a dry, preheated (medium/low) nonstick skillet. Stir often and watch carefully, as pecans can burn easily, giving your crust an off, bitter flavor. Allow pecans to cool completely.
Grind pecans in food processor, or place in a ziploc bag and crush, using a rolling pin. You want to make sure the nuts are ground enough to hold the whole thing together once they are removed from the silicone molds.
Press about 1 tablespoon of crust mixture into individual silicone muffin cups, using the back of the measuring spoon. Place pans in freezer while oven is heating, in order to set the butter.
Optional step (but worth it for better crust texture and flavor):
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove muffin tins from the freezer and bake in oven for about 12 minutes or until very slightly browned. Again, watch carefully, as you don’t want a burned, bitter crust. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before proceeding.
Now to make the filling
Remember those room-temperature ingredients that have been sitting on your countertop? Temperature is important, as it means the difference between a nice, smooth batter and a weirdly lumpy one. Now it’s time to assemble.
Beat cream cheese at low speed for 30 seconds, just enough to create a uniform consistency.
Gradually add in sweetener until smooth, followed by the sour cream, using low speed and mixing just until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
Add eggs, one at a time, again mixing just enough until each egg is incorporated, and then add vanilla and lemon zest or lemon oil.
Spoon filling into silicone cups. Gently tap pan on counter to remove air bubbles. Add one cup of cold water into the Instant Pot. Place silicone cups on trivet or pan, being careful not to make contact with water. I used an aluminum insert intended for pot-in-pot cooking. Since no one is paying me for my blogging, I won’t mention where I got the sling/pan setup and the silicone molds, but it’s one of those really big online vendors that sells pretty much everything
Pressure cook at high pressure for seven minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally for about 18-20 minutes, or until the pin drops and the pressure is fully released. Remove from the pot, pour off any water that may have collected on top of the cheesecakes, and cool completely on a wire rack.
OK, so as you can see, the tops aren’t perfectly smooth (I should have worked a little harder at smoothing it out before baking), but the inside is dense and silky. No matter, the chocolate drizzle will make it all wonderful. Refrigerate cheesecakes for at least six hours, or preferably overnight to better develop the flavors.
Chocolate Drizzle (optional)
The cheesecakes are wonderful as is in their sugar-free goodness, but here is where you can add just that little bit of sugar and chocolate magic to make your cheesecakes look prettier and add a little more flavor. Melt chocolate in a double boiler and stir until smooth but not too runny. Remove cheesecakes from the silicone molds. Drizzle chocolate over cheesecakes. I used a decorating bag with the tip cut off to make my squiggles; you can dip a fork in the chocolate and drizzle over the cheesecakes, or even simply dip the tops in for a ganache effect. Place cheesecakes in the freezer for just a few minutes, just enough to set the chocolate, and then remove and refrigerate.