Mom Ryan's Holiday Cherry Pie Cheesecakes

Colleen Ryan, Associate Director of Bids, Proposals and Contracts

Every holiday for 40+ years, my amazing mom has spread holiday cheer by creating trays of Christmas cakes and cookies for friends, family, neighbors, and when my five siblings and I were still in grade school, all of our teachers. Never one to do anything halfway, my mom starts baking as soon as December hits (starting with the types of cookies that can be frozen for a short time without being ruined) and doesn't stop until she has 22 different kinds of cookies made by December 22nd. That is when the assembly line starts. I have been her second-in-command on this project since I was three, frosting, wrapping and delivering trays. We individually wrap each kind of cookie so the flavors don’t cross-contaminate, and portion the cookies out on trays by the size of the family (for example, our 90-year-old neighbor who lived alone got two of each kind of cookie, my dad's brother who has 10 kids got a dozen of every type, and so on). Needless to say, we are talking about a LOT of baking, wrapping, arranging and delivering. These cherry pie cheesecakes have been a mainstay on the trays for years because of the holiday-appropriate pop of color and the fact that they are one of the most requested desserts behind my mom’s frosted sugar cookies and buckeyes.


Ingredients:

Cheesecake

  • Vanilla wafer cookies
  • 2 8-oz bars cream cheese, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Quick Cherry Pie Filling

  • 4 cups pitted cherries
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch

Directions:

Cheesecake

  1. Line a cupcake pan with a dozen cupcake liners.
  2. Place a vanilla wafer cookie at the bottom of each cupcake liner (these will bake into a crust).
  3. Combine cream cheese, eggs, and vanilla extract in a medium mixing bowl.
  4. Using an electric mixer, begin beating the mixture on medium to high speed.
  5. While still mixing, begin to slowly fold in sugar and beat until smooth.
  6. Once thoroughly combined, spoon the batter into each vanilla wafer-lined cupcake container; fill each up to approximately the ¾-full mark.
  7. Bake 20–25 minutes in an oven preheated to 350°F.
  8. Cool cheesecakes completely to prepare for topping.
  9. Using either a premium canned or prepared cherry pie filling (recipe below), top each cheesecake with 1–2 tbsp of topping and serve.

Variations: Top with strawberry, blueberry or raspberry pie filling. Or, before dividing the batter among the cupcake liners, fold in 1½ cups of chocolate chips.

Quick Cherry Pie Filling

  1. In a covered saucepan over medium heat, simmer the cherries until they begin to release their juice and form a thin sauce, about 10–15 minutes. Stir often to avoid burning the cherries.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the sugar with cornstarch until smooth; pour the mixture into the simmering cherries and mix together completely while still over low heat. Continue to cook and stir until the filling has thickened; remove from heat, let cool, and use as topping.