Mini Turtle Cheesecakes
These mini turtle cheesecakes are the perfect blend of chocolate, caramel and nuts combined with creamy cheesecake! Mini cheesecakes make the best grab-and-go party dessert!
I’m all in when it comes to the combination of chocolate, caramel and nuts. Each component is important and plays a role.
The chocolate is smooth and silky. The caramel is sweet and warm – even though the actual caramel isn’t warm to the touch, I feel like the word warm is appropriate, caramel is inviting, like a cozy hug! The nuts are the needed crunch. The nuts provide a different texture than the chocolate or caramel, plus the nuts give the chocolate and caramel something to hold onto!
- 5 minutes to prep the graham cracker crust
- 5 minutes to pre-bake the crust
- 5 minutes to prep the cheesecake filling
- 20 ish minutes to bake cheesecake
- 4 hours to refrigerate the cheesecake before serving. I prefer to refrigerate mine overnight. Waiting is the hardest part, right?!
What You’ll Need
Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
FOR THE CRUST:
- Graham cracker crumbs – You can make these yourself by pulsing whole graham crackers in your food processor, or buy a box of crumbs at the grocery store.
- Unsalted butter – Melt this in the microwave or in a small saucepan on your stove.
FOR THE CHEESECAKE:
- Full-fat cream cheese – Let the cream cheese come to room temperature so it’s easy to whip up into a smooth filling. Also note that you’ll need bars of cream cheese, not the kind that comes in tubs.
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Eggs – Let these come to room temperature too.
FOR THE TOPPING:
- Jarred caramel – I used store bought caramel sauce for ease.
- Chocolate ganache – Easy to make at home with semi-sweet chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream
- Pecans – or your favorite nut!
Tools to Make Mini Cheesecakes
- standard size muffin pan
- paper muffin / cupcake liners
Making individual turtle cheesecakes in a muffin pan is a great way to scale down a regular cheesecake recipe. Mini cheesecakes don’t require a water bath or any special tools, plus they bake faster than regular cheesecake.
How to Make Mini Cheesecakes
The combination of chocolate, caramel and nuts comes together perfectly in this handheld dessert!
TO MAKE THE CRUST:
Prepare. Preheat your oven to 350º F and line a standard-sized muffin pan with paper muffin liners.
Make the crust mixture. In a mixing bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
Form the crusts. Press 1 to 2 tablespoons of the crumb mixture into each muffin cup using the bottom of a 1/3 cup (or similar) to create a flat, even surface.
Bake. Place the pan in the oven and bake the crust for 5 minutes. Let the crusts cool while you work on the rest of the recipe.
TO MAKE THE CHEESECAKES:
Cream the cheese and sugar. In a mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer for a minute or two, or until the mixture is smooth.
Finish the cheesecake batter. Beat in vanilla extract, followed by the eggs.
Assemble. Divide the cheesecake batter among the muffin cups, filling the liners full.
Bake. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until the centers of the cheesecakes are slightly jiggly.
Cool. Let the mini turtle cheesecakes cool to room temperature, then refrigerate them for at least 4 hours before serving. Loosely cover the cheesecakes in plastic wrap if you’re chilling them overnight or longer.
Garnish. Top the mini cheesecakes with caramel sauce, a dollop of chocolate ganache and chopped nuts. I used pecans.
Tips for Success
These tips will help you make sure they turn out perfect.
- Don’t over-mix the cheesecake batter. Once you add the eggs, beat them in just until the yolk breaks. Over-beating the eggs is the most common cause of air bubbles and cracking.
- Don’t over-bake either. When you (gently!) shake the baking pan back and forth, the centers should jiggle slightly. If, instead, the centers move like a liquid, they need more time in the oven.
- Allow enough time for chilling. Warm cheesecake is not very appetizing, so be sure to account for the chilling time needed when planning your baking.
- You do have a back-up plan. If the tops crack or have some bubbles, no worries! Once you add the toppings, no one will notice.
The best way to tell when the mini peanut butter cheesecakes are done is the jiggle test. The center of the cheesecake should jiggle slightly when you shake the pan and the edges of the cheesecake will be slightly more puffy or airy.
Refrigerate your mini turtle cheesecakes in an airtight container for up to a week. If you’re making these for a party, I recommend making them no more than 3 to 4 days in advance for maximum freshness!
You can freeze mini cheesecakes for up to 3 months. I recommend you freeze them without any toppings. They can be individually wrapped, or you can place them in an airtight storage container or freezer bag with parchment paper between the layers to keep them from sticking. Let them thaw in the refrigerator before serving.
More cheesecake desserts
Mini Turtle Cheesecakes
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted
- 16 oz full fat cream cheese, two 8 oz packages, softened to room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- jarred caramel sauce
- chocolate ganache, ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips & ¼ cup heavy whipped cream
- chopped nuts, I used pecans
- Preheat the oven to 350º F. Line a regular sized muffin pan with paper muffin liners. In a mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter until it resembles coarse sand. Put 1-2 tbsp of crumbs in each muffin cup. Use a 1/3 cup (or similar) to press the crumbs down firmly into the pan. Bake the crust for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool while prepping the cheesecake.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth, 1-2 minutes.
- Beat in vanilla extract and eggs, until smooth. The eggs are the last ingredient that get mixed into the cheesecake batter. Be sure to mix them in just until the yolk breaks. Over beating the eggs is the number one cause of air bubbles and cracking.
- Evenly divide the cheesecake batter among the muffin cups, filling the liners full. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until the center of the cheesecake is only slightly jiggly.
- Allow the cheesecakes to cool to room temperature then place them in the fridge for at least 4 hours to chill before serving. If refrigerating overnight, loosely cover the cheesecakes in plastic wrap.
- Top each cheesecake with a spoonful of jarred caramel sauce, chocolate ganache and chopped nuts.
- To make chocolate ganache: Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl. In a small pot over low heat, heat the heavy cream until just before boiling. Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate chips. Allow the mixture to stand for 1-2 minutes. Use a spatula to stir the mixture until smooth. Allow the ganache to come to room temperature before adding it to the cheesecake.