Dessert of the Year: Mason Jar Cheesecake
Want to be the hit of your next BBQ/potluck/bridal shower/birthday party/Saturday night?
Whip up some of these super-easy Mason Jar Cheesecakes.
I promise, you will be everyone’s hero.
I had these at a recent holiday picnic. I saw these plain, old mason jars nestled in an ice-filled bin. So I grabbed one, too intrigued to resist. What I found inside was downright heavenly.
Rich, tart-yet-sweet cheesecake with a traditional graham cracker crust, topped with a fruity sauce. All I had to do was pop the top and insert my spoon. A picnic dessert that’s fancy AND easy.
The bearer of the delicious dessert could not be determined, so I had to take matters into my own hands. Where did I go?
I mean, where else do you go for anything dealing with mason jars? There actually weren’t as many pins about Mason Jar Cheesecakes as I expected, but there were enough. I quickly dismissed the “no-bake” versions, wanting more of a traditional cheesecake texture and flavor. I sorted out the few recipes left and found a winner at Thrifty NW Mom’s blog.
Mason Jar Cheesecakes (adapted from Thrifty NW Mom’s recipe)
- 2 cups of Crushed Graham Crackers
- 1/4 cup of Sugar
- 5-6 Tbsp of Butter, Melted
- 3 pkgs of 8oz Cream Cheese, Softened (I used store brand)
- 1 can of 14oz Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk )
- 3 Eggs
- 2 Tsp Vanilla
- 11-12 Half Pint Jars (available at Ace Hardware, Safeway, Lowe’s, Home Depot, etc. for around $10 a dozen)
I grabbed some half pint mason jars I had on hand (purchased at Ace Hardware) and scrubbed ’em clean. I threw half a box of graham crackers in a large zip lock back and enlisted Ethan to help me grind them to bits with a rolling pin. We tossed the crumbs with five-ish tablespoons (more if your isn’t sticky enough) of melted butter and sugar before tamping it into the bottom of my jars using the rubber end of a turkey baster.
I whipped the softened cream cheese in my mixer till fluffy, then added the eggs, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla. What resulted was a billowy, sweet goodness. I won’t lie, some batter licking (mostly on Ethan’s behalf) was involved at this stage in the process.
With crusted jars settled into my large, heavy roasting pan, I tried to evenly divide the filling but ended up one jar short. Maybe I was over-zealous with my filling of jars (leaving space at the tops), but there is no way I had enough cheesy-goodness for a 12th jar. Not to worry though, I only really needed eight or nine servings anyway. Just something to note.
After filling, I poured water in the pan until the jars were halfway submerged, creating a “bath” for the cheesecakes. They baked at 350 for about 20 minutes (I don’t trust my oven so I rotated the pan halfway through) until set but still slightly jiggly. Mine got a few tiny browned spots which freaked me out, but not to worry…they tasted great.
BE CAREFUL when removing the pan from the oven. If you use a roasting pan like mine, that sucker is going to be heavy. I used tongs to gently lift the jars from the water and let them cool on my counter for an hour or so. Once cool, I screwed on the tops and stacked the jars in my fridge.
I didn’t know what topping to use, thought about doing a variety, but once I saw big, juicy raspberries on sale at the store, my mind was made up. Thinking back to my peach shortcakes with blueberry sauce, I threw raspberries, water, and sugar into a sauce pan:
- 2 pints raspberries
- 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp water
The result was a thick, yummy-looking sauce riddled with seeds. Though I had decided not to bother straining the sauce, I broke down and put it through my fine mesh sieve. The final sauce was bright red, smooth, and perfectly sweet. I dolloped a couple spoonfuls on each cheesecake. Then back in the fridge they went till our BBQ the following day.
The next night, after dinner, I emerged from the house with an armful of mason jars. Guest’s interests were peeked. They couldn’t imagine what I was doing as I plopped the jars into our ice-filled bucket of beer. When we were ready, guests grabbed a jar and a spoon.
The reaction was unanimous. Everyone LOVED the dessert. Even the kids couldn’t get enough. I know my jar was scraped clean!
We had two cheesecakes leftover, the two I did not top with raspberries just in case someone had an aversion to sweet berry goodness, so I tried one with chocolate sauce (of the Trader Joe’s variety) and the other with some salted carmel sauce. Both were DE-lish. So top with whatever you want…change it up!
My new go-to dessert recipe is locked down…I can’t imagine an easier, no-fuss, higher-impact, make-ahead treat for a breezy get together. Just make sure you plan accordingly—having these leftover in your fridge is dangerous.
What’s your favorite easy, make-ahead dessert? What would you take to a party?