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Key Lime Cheesecake Minis with Macadamia Graham Cracker Crusts

Mr. SGCC is a caveman.  He loves meat.  And, he doesn’t care for sweets.  I know!  Crazy, right?   There are a few exceptions to this, though.  He does enjoy a good cheesecake now and then.  He’s also been known to sneak bites of Key lime pie right out of the pan from time to time.  So, these Key Lime Cheesecake Minis are the perfect Labor Day dessert for him.  Actually, they’re a perfect dessert for anyone who loves creamy, dreamy cheesecake with a bright , fresh pop of citrus.

Key limes are small, round citrus fruits with a sharp, tart flavor – more so than regular Persian limes.  Commercially picked Key limes are green, but when allowed to ripen on the tree, the  fruit has more of a yellowish skin.  Native to Southeast Asia, Key limes made their way to North America via the Caribbean by early Spanish settlers to  Florida.    Key lime cultivation flourished in South Florida, particularly in the Keys, until the early 20th century, when most of the groves were destroyed by  the great hurricane of 1926 [1].   They’re still widely associated with Florida, even though they’re not grown here commercially anymore.

Most of the Key limes I find at the supermarket are from Mexico, and they are often sickly and sad looking little things. If you’re lucky enough to have a tree in your own backyard, you’re all set. If not, but you have any family/friends/neighbors with one, start schmoozing, because I promise you’re gonna want to make these dreamcakes …er…cheesecakes. 

When I decided to make a dessert using Key limes, my first thought was a classic Key lime pie.  However, I knew that I wanted to make individual servings, and worried that mini pies or tartlets would be kind of messy to eat out of hand.   So I took my basic Key lime pie recipe, added cream cheese and extra eggs to it, baked it in paper baking cups and voilà –  Key Lime Cheesecake Minis!    These scrumptious little morsels were just what I was going for.  And, they were super easy to pull together.  I love making super rich treats like these in individual servings.   They not only help with portion control, but they’re easy to eat.  And, I think they’re pretty cute too!

I started with a basic graham cracker crust.  To give the cakes a little “tropical” flair, I also added some toasted, ground macadamia nuts to the  graham cracker crumbs.  I find that this not only gives the crust a nice nutty flavor, but also keeps it from getting soggy.

I pressed about a tablespoon full of the crust mixture into the bottom of paper muffin cups.  Then, I filled each cup with cheesecake batter and baked them in a “steamy oven”.  Placing a shallow pan filled with boiling water in the oven with your cheesecakes creates a moist environment which discourages cracking.  Though, if you do get a few cracks, don’t sweat it.  Swirl a little whipped cream cloud on top and no one will ever know.

After they’re baked, they need a good, long chill in the fridge to firm up.    Then, just peel off the paper and dive in!

Whatever you’re planning to do to celebrate summer’s last hurrah this Labor Day, these sunny little cheesecakes will make everybody’s day a little bit brighter.   So, go forth and make some cheesecake!