Mini Cranberry-Cheesecake Pies

Your holiday table will look oh-so-festive when you add the pop of color from these mini cranberry cheesecake pies. These creamy, sweet-tarts are like little bites of winter. Not a soul will be able to resist them, even when surrounded by the other favorite seasonal pies, such as sweet potato and pecan. A creamy cheesecake is a favorite treat to serve during the holidays, but working with a springform pan and hoping it doesn't leak or worrying over whether the cheesecake is done or not (because you aren't supposed to open the oven door) - well, that can just add stress to an already stressful time. Keep holiday baking fun by turning out a pan of these easy mini cranberry cheesecake pies. The darker colored gingersnaps make the prettiest crust and, for best results, use your food processor to grind the gingersnaps into a fine crumb - this is crucial for such small crusts. Any remaining cranberry compote is just an extra treat - serve it over turkey, muddled into cocktails, or spooned over biscuits or hot sandwiches.

Mini Cranberry-Cheesecake Pies
Photo: David Malosh; Prop Styling: Robyn Glaser; Food Styling: Maggie Ruggiero
Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 50 mins
Yield:
12

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup fresh or thawed frozen cranberries, divided

  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup

  • ½ cup white sanding sugar

  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest plus ⅓ cup fresh juice (from 1 large [10 oz.] orange), plus more zest for garnish

  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided

  • 2 ¾ cups finely crushed crisp gingersnap cookies (from about 12 oz. cookies)

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

  • 2 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened 

  • ¼ cup sour cream

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Place ½ cup of the cranberries in a bowl; add maple syrup, and toss to coat. Place sanding sugar in a separate bowl. Working in batches of about 2 tablespoons each, add cranberries to sanding sugar; toss to coat. Arrange cranberries in 1 layer on a plate. Set aside to dry at room temperature, at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

  2. Meanwhile, stir together orange zest, orange juice, 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar, and remaining ¼ cup cranberries in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium. Cook, stirring occasionally and mashing cranberries with the back of a spoon, until mixture is slightly thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Using a fork, mash cranberries until mixture is almost smooth. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. (If needed, stir in up to 1 tablespoon water, ½ teaspoon at a time, until mixture has consistency of loose jam.)

  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray; set aside. Stir together gingersnap crumbs, melted butter, ⅓ cup of the granulated sugar, and ¾ teaspoon of the salt in a bowl. Spoon into muffin cups (about 3 ½ tablespoons each); press into bottom and up sides.

  4. Bake piecrusts in preheated oven until set, 12 to 16 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to press hot crusts back into a cup shape. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

  5. Combine cream cheese, sour cream, vanilla, and remaining ⅔ cup granulated sugar and ¼ teaspoon salt in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until light and smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer cheesecake mixture to a piping bag fitted with a large (¾-inch) open star tip.

  6. Carefully remove cooled crusts from pan. Pipe filling into crusts (about 3 tablespoons each). Before serving, top each pie with about ½ teaspoon cranberry compote. Top with sugared cranberries and orange zest. Serve remaining compote on the side.

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