Mini Chocolate Caramel Cheesecakes

Do you guys watch any of those ghost story shows? Like maybe “Ghost Hunters” or “Ghost Adventures” or “Paranormal State?”

I don’t.

I used to watch them all the time, and they really freaked me out. I was always on the edge of my seat, convinced that at any second, some otherworldly visage would float by the camera, call me by name, and tell me they were coming to get me.

Yes, really.

My favorite was “A Haunting,” on TLC. I think I liked it because it was all recreated, so the likelihood of seeing an actual ghost or whatever on camera was slim to none. Even still, I’d find myself all tense and ready to run whenever I watched it.

It used to be on right around the time the hubster and the kiddo got home from work and school. This was back when I had a job outside the home, too, so it would be my day off. I’d be sitting there in our big old house (our last house was way too big for our little family…that much empty space is just asking to be haunted), all alone, trying not to pee my pants, and all of a sudden – right when the show would be at it’s scariest – the door would burst open and a noisy boy and his dad would come barreling in.

It took my by surprise and made me jump out of my skin every. single. time.

Every time.

It’s a good thing they stopped making that show (and that I watched every, single episode), because I don’t think my nerves could have handled much more.

Here’s the kicker, though…

I don’t even believe in ghosts.

I’m just that much of a wimp.

I haven’t believed in ghosts since I was a kid. We’re not talking angels and stuff…I’m talking the scary stuff. The sad or mean spirit who stayed behind because of some mysterious reason, and they totally seem out to get every living soul they encounter. I don’t buy it. And yet, I’m the first one to wet the bed when I watch Paranormal Activity while visiting my sister and I wake up to find my nephew standing at my bedside, motionless and staring at me.

Watch the movie, you’ll know why that’s freaky as hell.

I always find an excuse to forego scary ghost shows when they’re turned on. You know, the laundry isn’t gonna fold itself. And it’s vitally important that I try my new mini pie maker out.

So.

Yeah…

I’ll be in the kitchen…making some mini chocolate cheesecakes. You know, if you feel the need to escape take a break from the scary.

You might remember me mentioning that I got a Breville Mini Pie Maker as a slightly belated Christmas gift. Mine is from Williams Sonoma and the Hubster got me the Mini Pies cookbook to go with it. I wasn’t expecting it at all, and I was thrilled when I got it, but I almost felt gipped. Almost.

The truth is, I’ve just never been a big fan of pies. I’m really weird. I don’t like my fruit cooked. Yes, I’m serious. I like apples fresh and crisp and crunchy. Au naturale. That’s how I like all of my fruit. Except in muffins. And I like raisins. Call me weird, it’s okay. I am a little bit.

So when I got the pie maker, I was super excited…I mean, just look how adorable:

Some seriously cute stuff is gonna happen here.

But I was also slightly disappointed. Then again, though, the hubster and the boy love pie, so really it’s win-win. I get to make fun mini pies (and have an excuse not to watch scary shows), and they get to have lots of adorable mini pies.

I decided that the first pies I made in it, though, would be my choice. Which is why it’s chocolaty. And caramel-y.

For these mini cheesecakes, I used the chocolate cheesecake recipe from the book as a resource, but I tweaked it and added caramel. Because let’s face it, caramel makes everything better.

The filling is super simple – some cream cheese and sugar get mixed together first. I used fat free cream cheese. Can’t even tell the difference.

Then you stir in some melted chocolate. I used semi-sweet, but the recipe calls for bittersweet. I think that even milk chocolate would be great – whatever floats your boat.

Add an egg yolk and some vanilla, and that’s all there is to the filling.

As for the crust, the book just called for a regular pie crust, but I wanted something more traditional cheescake-y, but a graham cracker crust wouldn’t really work in the pie maker, so I decided to use a method that I learned from Baking Illustrated. To get a graham cracker-y crust, just roll your pie dough out in crushed graham crackers instead of flour.

I made a basic pie dough; any will do, or you can even buy a pre-made crust (you only need enough for the bottom of a 9-inch pie, so one crust). Just roll it out with the graham cracker crumbs until it’s about 1/8 – 1/4-inch thick. I prefer more crust, so I like mine to be around 1/4-inch.

Next, use the included cutters to cut out the pie dough rounds and press them into the preheated pie maker.

You can also make this recipe using pre-made mini graham cracker crusts from the store, or any mini pie mold. Just bake them at 350 degrees in the oven for 9 to 12 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling is puffy.

Once the crust is in place, fill each one with a tablespoon of caramel sauce, then divide the cheesecake filling evenly between them.

As you can see from the last picture, my pies burned slightly. I followed the baking instructions exactly, so I was pretty disappointed, but I think I know how to prevent it from happening again. Also, they still tasted incredible, so I was very pleased.

First of all, although the crusts are slightly burnt along the edges, the bottoms are absolutely beautifully cooked. Also, the filling came out perfect, so I wouldn’t reduce the baking time. What I think happened is that the edges of the pies were exposed to more heat, since they were pressed between two hot surfaces, while the bottom of the pie was only exposed to one cook surface. The extra heat, on the thinnest part of the pie, was too much, and caused it to burn. My solution is to cut the pie circles larger, then fold the excess dough over the fluting, creating a double layer of crust that won’t cook as quickly and burn.

Even slightly burnt along the edges, these pies were completely amazing. The filling was rich, creamy, and chocolaty, and the caramel was the perfect compliment (of course). I topped them off with some softly whipped cream, and a little confectioners’ sugar, and all was right with the world.

You can see here, and in the photo above, how perfectly the bottom of the crust baked up. It was flaky and wonderful, and the graham cracker crumbs made the whole pie taste much more like a traditional cheesecake.

With or without the mini pie maker, these were fast and easy to make, only taking about 25 to 35 minutes (excluding chilling time for the pie dough) – even with making homemade caramel sauce and whipped cream. They were worth every second, and I can’t wait to make more adorableness with my pie maker.

Even if you don’t have a pie maker, you can make these, quick and simple, for everyone to enjoy…or, you know, just for you. No one says you have to share. Enjoy!

Mini Chocolate Caramel Cheesecakes [Printable Recipe]
Makes 4 mini pies

**To make these gluten free, use your favorite GF 9-inch pie dough recipe and gluten free graham crackers**

Ingredients

FOR THE PIE CRUST
1 1/4 cups (160 grams) flour
2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons shortening, cold
1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 57 grams) butter, cold, cut into small chunks
3-4 tablespoons (45 to 60 ml) cold water

4 full sheets graham crackers (about 1/2 cup) crushed

FILLING
4 ounces (124 grams) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
2 ounces (60 grams) semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract

1 recipe Caramel Sauce (omit 1 teaspoon of salt)

1 recipe Whipped Cream (softly whipped)

To make the crust: In a food processor, mix the dry ingredients for a couple of seconds to combine, then drop the shortening evenly on top in chunks. Process until the mixture looks like wet sand. Evenly distribute the butter on top and pulse until the mixture has pea sized chunks in it.

If mixing by hand: In a large bowl, cut the cold shortening in with a fork or dough blender, again until it resembles wet sand. Then cut the butter in until you have pea sized pieces.

If using a processor, transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

Add about 3 tablespoons cold water and begin mixing with a spatula. Using a spatula, mix the dough by ‘folding’ from bottom to top and pressing down with each fold, adding more water if the dough is too dry.

Once the mixture has just formed a dough, turn it out onto a very lightly floured surface. As quickly as possible, finish bringing the dough together by hand, kneading as little as possible.

Shape into a disk, roughly 4 inches across. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the cream cheese until creamy. Beat in the sugar, then scrape the sides of the bowl and mix for a few more seconds. Add the melted chocolate and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl again, then stir in the egg yolk and vanilla. Scrape the bowl again, and mix for another 20 seconds or so.

Assemble the pies: Preheat your pie maker.

Sprinkle your work surface with 2 tablespoons of the crushed graham crackers. Remove your pie dough from the refrigerator and roll it out to about a quarter inch thick, sprinkling with more graham cracker crumbs as you go. Use all of the crumbs while rolling.

Cut four circles of pie dough for your mini pies and press them into the mini pie maker, or mini pie molds (see information in post about extra pie dough for the edges in a pie maker). Fill each crust with 1 tablespoon of caramel sauce. Divide the cheesecake filling evenly between the four pies. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes, until crust is golden brown and filling is puffy. Use a fork to gently remove the pies and transfer them to a wire cooling rack. Serve warm or cool to room temperature before serving.

**You can also make this recipe using pre-made mini graham cracker crusts from the store, or any mini pie mold. Just bake them at 350 degrees in the oven fro 9 to 12 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling is puffy.**

Filling adapted from Mini Pies, Crust, caramel, and cream recipes by Darla

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Comments

  1. says

    NO NO NO..I don’t watch anything scary! I still to this day, won’t hang my arm off the bed at night! I am a sissy!
    These sound absolutely amazing! and the photos….stunning.

  2. Ashley says

    You’re not weird. I hate those shows. And I won’t watch Paranormal Activity. I go about as far as PG-13 scary. And you know it’s bad when every night for 2 weeks after being introduced to the Silence you wake up afraid to go to the bathroom for fear one might be in there. But wait! Was it there and I just forgot? Or am I really safe?
    Also, I don’t like cooked apples either. Berries on the other hand…I could eat a whole pie by myself. I could also probably eat a whole chocolate cheesecake by myself, so it’s a good thing these come in mini form.

  3. says

    Ok first of all, I so get you on the ghost shows, I always happen on them when I am alone, and Hubby and my son come in and scare me, but I have to act all brave. And if I am alone, and I am doing laundry I have to turn on every light in the basement and sing to myself to act like there is no ghost waiting to get me. So I obviously have issues.

    Now that pie maker? So cute! I want the babycakes one I like pie, but the crust is the best part. Yours look too good, though, and that makes me worry. I would be making them too much, so better not get one!

  4. says

    I’m totally the same way. Total wuss. I watched the Celebrity Paranormal Project once and I was freaked out for weeks. I watched Shaun of the Dead with friends in high school, and I had to drive home in my decrepit old station wagon where the dome light didn’t work, down streets without street lamps, and I made my friend check the back for zombies before I left. Because they could be in there and I would be none the wiser until they started snacking on my brains. I also do not like cooked fruit. Except berries. I like berry pies. I was trying to come up with a way to segue that from brains and zombies, but it wasn’t happening.

    My friend has the same pie maker. She got it last year and hasn’t used it yet. I’ll forward her this recipe, so that she can make it and share it with me.

  5. says

    Ha, scary stuff. Me and my husband talked about if we would mind moving into a house in which someone had been murdered. He said it would not bother him, however I begged to differ! I thing the conversation all started when I watches something about this lady that kept waking up to the sound of someone beating on a bedroom door and trying to get out. Finally it kept on and she said something to a neighbor. The neighbor finally said that there was a woman that was found dead in the house years ago. Then she said, you would not believe how she died. Ah-I changed the channel!!
    Anyhow your cheesecakes look delicious, I have some mini pie pans that this would be perfect for! yum.

  6. says

    I am truly the biggest horror movie fan ever – I’ve seen the greatest and am starting to immune now
    Though I am so looking forward to woman in black with Daniel Radcliffe!!! Looks tingly :)
    As do your pie-cheesecake hybrid sprinkled with chocolate and caramel :)
    Delicious!

    • says

      I also can’t wait for Woman in Black!! So excited for that! I’m actually quite the horror movie fan, too……not torture movies. Just creepy, give you chills and make you scared of the dark movies. But I’m not very good at watching them!!

  7. Donna D. says

    I too don’t believe in ghosts but get totally freaked by those ghost shows. I’m pretty sure my sister believes in ghosts and she loves those shows…weird!!
    Thanks for the recipe, can’t wait to try it!

  8. says

    I watched one of those ghost shows once and I was so freaked out that I just laid in bed watching the shadows until I finally feel asleep from sheer exhaustion. I never watched another one again.

    I love the trick about rolling your pie crust in graham cracker crumbs. It just changed my life a little. I bet these would be super cute in little mason jars or even in muffin tins baked in the oven too if you didn’t have a mini pie maker.

  9. says

    Oh boy, four of my favourite food words in one title! These look amazing and will definitely have to be tried. I love the press that you have there, our pie maker certainly didn’t come with one of those (although admittedly it is 13yo now!).

  10. Patti L says

    Try laying pieces of foil around your unbaked pie crust while its baking that should deep thme from burning. I do that with my regular pies and the edging dosen’t burn.

  11. Tiffany S says

    This looks so amazing!
    I know what you mean with the scary movies.
    Whenever my boyfriend tries to get me to watch a scary movie with him, I usually end up hiding up a big huge roll of blankets and piles of pillows in order to “protect” me from whatever was going to come get me.
    Even to this day I always try to avoid anything scary…However, surprisingly, I love to read scary stories and books!
    I remember reading the Shining by Stephen King and barely even becoming remotely scared by the contents.
    Though movies are a different story…

  12. says

    I’m with you on the scary shows–I get waaay too sucked in and can’t watch them. There used to be this one about haunted houses and hotels on the History Channel that freaked me out to no end. Ghost shows are definitely one those things where you know you should just change the channel and look away.

    These cheesecakes, however, are a completely different story. They look positively lovely and not scary in the least. Not to mention that whole amazing caramel thing going on there. Yum!!

  13. says

    They did one of those shows right near me. A local tourist attraction from back in the revolutionary war. It was neat to be all spooked out about something I grew up knowing, and looking back even as a kid, field trips there always gave me the heebie jeebies.

    These mini cheesecakes look awesome. My BF’s sister got one of those mini pie makers recently, so I am going to email her a link.

  14. says

    Ok, I’ve never seen this recipe (musta been when my dumb RSS was being… dumb).

    So, #1- now I need a mini pie maker, cause. cute.

    #2- the graham cracker crumbs trick is genius!!!

    #3- we’ve discussed this, but no. No. NO. to ghost stories/movies/shows in my house.

    Aliens, vamps, monsters, zombies, etc, all fine. Ghosts? No. Demons? Oh HOLY NO.