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Toasted Coconut Mini Cheesecakes

Toasted Coconut Mini Cheesecakes
I think that I might like mini cheesecakes even more than full size cheesecakes. Sure, a tall slice of creamy cheesecake is hard to resist, but mini cheesecakes are quick and easy to make – and that means that I can have cheesecake a lot more often. Mini cheesecakes are also easy to put a variety of flavor variations on and these Toasted Coconut Mini Cheesecakes are a new favorite.

The cheesecakes start with an easy batter that is packed with toasted coconut and flavored with a bit of vanilla extract. I lightly toast the coconut in the oven before incorporating it into the batter. As delicious as the nutty, buttery flavor of toasted coconut is, you don’t want the coconut to be overly toasted in this recipe or it will take away from the creamy texture of the cheesecake. The ideal toast is to get the coconut to a light golden brown before mixing it in. I topped the cheesecakes with a sprinkle of untoasted coconut, which gets a bit of color while the cheesecakes are in the oven.

For the crust, I opted to use Oreo cookies instead of a more traditional graham cracker crust. You might be surprised at what a great option Oreo cookies are for things like mini cheesecakes. They’re the perfect size for a muffin cup, so they require no prep to get them ready and that really streamlines the whole cheesecake-making process. Oreo Thins and regular Oreos can be used, depending on how much cream filling you like in your crust (it doesn’t make much of a flavor impact). You can also separate the sandwiches and use just the wafers. In this case, I used Coconut Oreo Thins, which brought in an additional coconut element to the dessert

Although I’ve been known to eat a mini cheesecake while it is still warm from the oven, I recommend chilling these in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours to firm them up before serving. They can be served as-is, with their wrappers on, or the wrappers can be peeled off before plating them. The recipe can also be halved if you feel like you need a smaller batch than this recipe yields. The cheesecakes do keep well in the fridge for 2-3 days after baking, however, so having a few leftovers isn’t a bad thing.

Coconut Mini Cheesecakes
1 cup shredded coconut, divided
16 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
16 whole Oreo cookies/chocolate wafers

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 16 muffin cups with paper liners.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Spread 3/4 cup coconut onto parchment and bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring regularly, or until light golden brown. Allow to cool
In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese, sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla extract until very smooth. Stir in shredded coconut
Place 1 Oreo in the bottom of each muffin cup. Top with approximately 1/4 cup cheesecake batter. Sprinkle approx 1 tsp remaining (untoasted) coconut over each of the mini cheesecakes.
Bake for 16-19 minutes, or until cheesecakes are set. Allow cheesecakes to cool in the pan (they may fall slightly as they cool) to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Makes 16

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