This small, 6″ cheesecake is perfect for a small family gathering. It’s smaller, so you can make it the same day, and it only needs to cool 3-4 hours.
I use my Instant Pot because it cooks perfectly and quickly.
For the crust:
4-5 full graham crackers (or 1/2 cup of graham cracker crumbs)
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2-3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
12-ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1/4 tsp. lemon zest or 1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup sour cream
For the chocolate topping:
2-3 Tbsp. Heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (or 2 oz. chopped chocolate)
Make the Crust
Line the bottom of a 6″ x 2″ round cake pan with parchment paper. (I set the pan on top of the parchment paper. Trace the bottom closely with a pencil, then cut just inside of the tracing line to get the right size to cover only the bottom of the pan.) If you’re an over-achiever, you can also line the inside of the pan with a parchment “collar,” a 2″ strip of parchment that goes around the inside of the pan. Set aside.
Crush the graham crackers. You can use a food processor if you wish, but I usually just smash them in their bag, and use my fingers to crush the larger pieces. In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, the melted butter and brown sugar. Mix well.
Press the crumbs into the bottom only of the pan. Bake for 5-10 minutes or until fragrant and a little crisp. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Make the Filling
IMPORTANT: All of your ingredients must be at room temperature for the cheesecake to be smooth. If they are not, it will be chunky. (Still tasty, but not as pleasing.)
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla, lemon juice, whole egg and egg yolk. Mix until just combined. Add sour cream. Mix until just combined.
I prefer to use a hand mixer on the lowest speed possible over using a stand mixer for this. They say air is the enemy of cheesecake, so I figure the lowest power possible is the way to keep the air out.
“Bake” in the Instant Pot
*Note: I did not use a springform pan. If you use a springform pan, you may want to line it with foil, just in case, to keep the crust from getting soggy.
Place the cake pan on top of the trivet.
Set the Instant Put to High on the Pressure Cook setting. 23 minutes. Turn OFF the keep warm function. Allow to naturally release. (I allow it to sit for about 20-30 minutes after the cooking stops.)
Remove it from the Instant Pot using the handles of the trivet. (At this point, it looks and smells much different than a typical cheesecake, but trust me, it’s Soooooooo good!) Mop up any moisture on the top using a paper towel. Allow to cool on the trivet for 30 minutes to an hour. Then refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
*I have not baked this in the oven. but I believe you could bake it in a “hot water bath” (a larger pan with about 1″ of boiling water) at 325-degrees for 35-50 minutes (begin checking it early to avoid overbaking).
Remove the cake from the pan
Run a sharp knife or metal icing spatula along the sides of the cake. If you used a parchment collar, run a sharp knife or icing spatula behind the collar.
Place 1/2″ of HOT water (not boiling) in a pan or bowl about 2″ larger than the cake pan. Set the cooled cheesecake pan into the hot water for 1-3 minutes.
Remove the pan from the hot water bath. DRY the outside of the pan to avoid getting water on the crust. Invert the pan onto a piece of parchment paper or a paper towel. Thump on the bottom of the pan if it sticks at all.
Top with chocolate and serve
To make the chocolate ganache topping, heat 2-3 Tbsp. heavy cream in a small microwave-safe bowl on high for 40-50 seconds. Remove from the microwave, and immediately add 1/4 cup chocolate chips (add fewer chocolate chips if you want it to be more like a sauce, more if you want it to harden). Let sit for 30 seconds or so. Mix with a small whisk or fork until smooth, shiny and chocolatey.
Cut & Serve.