… Welcoming Spring!
These little gluten-free, dairy-free Lemon Cheesecake Tarts will welcome spring, to be sure. They have a light yet tangy, lemon center, covered by a smooth, vanilla sour cream topping. A crust of ginger cookie and graham cracker crumbs add rich flavor to the more subtle, fresh, springtime essence. A simple garnish of fresh raspberries (Who doesn’t love a raspberry and lemon flavor combo?) and mint leaves finish off these individual cheesecakes like clasping on a string of pearls … lovely but not overdone!
Though not a difficult recipe, these do require some “down time” to “set” once they’re finished baking … but they are worth the wait. With a little advance planning*, you can offer these delicious, and pretty, springtime-flavored tarts for your next gathering without any last minute fuss. Easily prepared in advance and chilled in the fridge for a day or two, they’ll be ready to garnish and serve when your brunch or party guests arrive. These will be on my Easter menu this year. Will they be on yours?
Gluten-free, Dairy-free Lemon Cheesecake Tarts
Baking time: about 55 minutes total
Oven temp: 350ºF
Rest time: 10 minutes between baking sessions, plus 3-4 hours to completely set cheesecake
Makes: about 20 cupcake sized tarts
14 rectangular graham crackers – I use Kinnikinnick S’moreables Graham-Style Crackers
30 ginger cookies – I use Pamela’s Simplebites Ginger Mini Snapz
4 Tablespoons margarine, melted – I use Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread – soy free
16 ounces dairy-free cream cheese – I use Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
3/4 cup sugar
5 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
zest from 3 lemons
1 1/2 cups dairy-free sour cream – I use Tofutti Sour Supreme
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract – McCormick’s is gluten-free
20 fresh raspberries
20 mint leaves
zest of 1 fresh lemon
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line 20 cupcake tins with cupcake papers.
Combine graham crackers and ginger cookies in a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Alternatively, you can place crackers and cookies in a resealable plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin. Add melted margarine to crumbs and stir until all crumbs are moistened. Put 2 Tablespoons crumb mixture (loose, not packed) into each cupcake paper. Gently press crumbs up sides and into bottom evenly. Bake at 350ºF for 10 minutes. Transfer pans to cooling rack and let cool 10 minutes.
Blend cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar, eggs, almond extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Fill cooled crusts about 2/3 full, leaving just enough room for the topping to be added later. Bake 23-25 minutes, until set but not solid. The tip of a knife inserted into center should come out clean. (This little prick won’t show once you add your garnish.)
Make your topping, while cheesecakes are baking, by combining sour cream, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl. Stir well to combine. Set aside at room temperature until cheesecakes are done.
Remove cheesecake pans from oven. Place 1 Tablespoon of the topping mixture over the top of each cheesecake. Return pans to oven and bake an additional (roughly) 15-18 minutes (begin checking at about 10 minutes), until topping is soft-set but not jiggly or liquid.
Remove pans from oven and place on cooling rack. Let rest 15 minutes to “set” cheesecake. Gently remove tarts from pans, leaving papers on, and place on cooling rack to finish cooling completely to room temperature. (Keeping them in the pans may cause sweating around the tarts.) Place on plate or back into cupcake pans and chill for 3-4 hours, but longer is fine.
Garnish each tart with a raspberry, mint leaf, and lemon zest when ready to serve. Can be served either cold or at room temperature.
*If you have time, make the filling and topping the day ahead and let sit in fridge overnight. Flavors will bloom and mixtures will thicken slightly, resulting in a better cheesecake. Allow filling and topping mixtures to come to room temperature before filling crumb crusts. If you don’t have this extra time, the cheesecake tarts will turn out just fine too.
Safe food is a journey … Thrive!™
Other recipes you might enjoy: