Mini strawberry cheesecakes

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Chilling time: 8 hours
Yield: 12 servings

Strawberry compote:

3 pints fresh strawberries, hulled, cut into thick slices
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks cinnamon


3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon each: dark rum, lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs
Sliced fresh strawberries or whole blueberries

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray each of a dozen 1-cup ramekins or muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray; set aside. For the compote, combine the berries, sugar and cinnamon sticks in a medium non-reactive saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

  2. For the filling, beat the cream cheese, sugar and salt in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 4 minutes. Raise the speed to high; beat until the mixture is creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sour cream, rum, lemon juice and vanilla; beat until well blended. Add the eggs; beat just until combined.

  3. Heat a kettle of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, spoon about 1 tablespoon of the cooled compote into the bottom of each ramekin; transfer the remaining compote, covered, to the refrigerator. Fill each ramekin with filling. Arrange the ramekins in a large baking pan with sides. Place the baking pan in the oven; pour boiling water into the pan halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the cheesecakes begin to pull away from the sides of the ramekins and are almost firm to the touch, 40 minutes.

  4. Carefully remove the baking pan from the oven. Carefully lift out the ramekins; transfer to a wire rack. Let cool. Refrigerate, covered, at least 8 hours.

  5. To unmold, run a sharp knife around the inside edge of each ramekin; invert each cheesecake onto a serving plate. (If they stick, dip the bottoms of the ramekins in hot water for 30 seconds to loosen the cheesecakes and try again.) Garnish with fresh strawberries or blueberries. Serve with reserved extra compote at the table.