This last week, I traveled to the the Lower 48 to make desserts for an event. It was a celebratory affair with family and friends, moments filled with hope, sprinkled with expectation. Similarly, I wanted the desserts I made to lift the spirit – to be small, beautiful bites of optimism.

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These key lime cheesecakes in mini Mason jars fit the bill perfectly with their citrusy brightness and indulgent creaminess. They were quick to disappear off of the dessert table, as I watched people sneak over and grab several jars to take back to their seat before they were all gone. People gushed; I blushed.

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If you’re intimidated by making larger cheesecakes, mini cheesecakes are a great place to start. With fewer steps, the absence of the often-terrifying springform pan and water bath combination, a shorter baking time, a much briefer trip to the refrigerator, and no need to carefully slice the cake, mini cheesecakes can be the much simpler way to go. As a bonus, the Mason jars make a lovely presentation when you’re aiming to impress.

This recipe was featured in Anchorage Daily News.

Key Lime Mason Jar Cheesecakes

Bright, citrusy key lime cheesecakes made in mini Mason jars. Topped with tart key lime curd.

Yields: 20-24 mini cheesecakes

  • For the crust:
  • 1½ cups crushed graham crackers
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • pinch of salt
  • For the filling:
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Key lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons Key lime juice
  • Also needed:
  • [Key Lime Curd|http://alaskascratch.wpengine.com/2013/03/06/key-lime-curd/]
  • 24 (4-ounce) Mason jars

Put crushed graham crackers, sugar, melted butter and salt into a bowl. Stir to combine, until all the crumbs are moistened by the butter. Add 1-2 tablespoons of the graham cracker mixture to each Mason jar. Use the back side of your tablespoon to press the crumbs down firmly into the bottom of the jar to form a crust.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Have two 13-by-9-inch baking pans ready.

In the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Gradually pour in the sweetened condensed milk, followed by the eggs, zest and Key lime juice until combined.

Carefully pour the cheesecake batter into each Mason jar, filling each jar ¾ full.

Pour hot water into each of the baking pans, about one-third of the way up the sides. Gently line up the jars in the pans, 12 jars in each pan, being careful not to splash the water into the cheesecakes.

Bake the cheesecakes for 20-25 minutes, until just set. Carefully remove the pans from the oven, then gently remove the jars from the pan and set them on a wire rack to cool completely. Top with a spoonful of Key lime curd. Serve at room temperature. Store in refrigerator with lids sealed and bring back to room temperature when serving.

 

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