Spicy gingersnap cookies are a great alternative to graham crackers when you’re making a crust for a pie or a cheesecake. They can be ground up into crumbs just like graham crackers can be and give a warm, spicy kick to whatever they’re paired with. I like to use them a little more often in the winter, when everyone is in the mood for spices like cinnamon, ginger and cloves, but I like them in general because they’re an easy way to add a lot of flavor to a recipe.
These Mini Lemon Cheesecakes are a perfect match for a gingersnap crust. The cheesecake batter is flavored with lots of lemon zest, so it has a bright citrus flavor that is a wonderful contrast for the spicy crust. I also added a small amount of lemon zest to the crust to tie the two together. I recommend choosing a flavorful type of gingersnap (Biscoff are quite good) for the best results, but you will still get a tasty dessert if you use regular graham crackers for the crust, as well.
These are a spinoff of my Chocolate Chip Mini Cheesecakes. They’re single serving cheesecakes, baked in muffin pans. I recommend using a muffin liner when baking these because it makes it much easier to remove them from the pan and serve them. If you happen to have a mini cheesecake pan, where the bases of all the muffin cavities are removable, then you can skip the muffin liners and bake your cheesecakes directly in the pan.
These can be served at room temperature shortly after being baked, or they can be chilled for up to two or three days. Garnish with whipped cream and a sprinkle of spice and gingersnap crumbs, or a small twist of lemon zest.
Mini Lemon Cheesecakes with Gingersnap Crusts
1 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
small pinch salt
2 1/2 tbsp butter, melted
8-oz cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp sour cream or greek-style yogurt
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon extract (optional)
1 tbsp lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 8 cups of a muffin pan with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, make the gingersnap cookie crust. Mix together gingersnap crumbs, brown sugar, lemon zest and salt and stir to combine. Pour over melted butter and stir with a fork to moisten the crumbs.
Place about a tablespoon of crumb mixture in each of the prepared muffin cups and pack down into an even layer.
In a large bowl, make the cheesecake. Cream together cream cheese, sour cream and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg, vanilla extract and lemon extract, if using. Stir in lemon zest.
Divide cheesecake mixture evenly into prepared muffin tins.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cheesecakes are set.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the muffin pan, then carefully transfer cheesecakes to a cooling rack to cool completely before refrigerating.