Mini Cherry Cheesecake

June is like half way done! Can you believe it? I sure can't. It's hard to think that I only just graduated college a month ago. Honestly the whole graduation thing really hasn't hit me yet. I think it may be because I still have another 3 years of school before I can get out into the real world, so to speak. Law school is bringing some pretty big changes though! I grew up in College Station and then decided to go to college here, so I've never really lived away from home. I mean I haven't lived with my parents since graduating high school, but they've always been a 10 minute drive or a phone call away. Now that I can sense the impending departure I've become a little clingy with my parents.  Luckily my mom's wife is basically an automotive super hero and swooped in to save the day right when I'd burned through all my radiator fluid (I know I'm like the worst car owner ever). Having that, and some other mechanical stuff that I don't understand, fixed lifted a huge weight off of my shoulders. But my mother is a very ambitious lady and even though she and her wife had gone above and beyond by helping out with the mechanical side of my car, she wanted to do more. 

I should probably preface this part by explaining that my love language is totally cleaning. I know it sounds totally ridiculous, but seriously my favorite gifts are the gifts of a tidiness. One of the best wedding presents that I received by far was coming home to a clean home after our little honey moon trip. I'd been so stressed out with the wedding and school that I hadn't even had time to look at my floors. That night after the reception my mother-in-law and bridesmaids all broke into my house to clean it. When I got home I bawled like a baby. 

Anyways back to my mom... Basically saw the wretched state the interior of my car was in and set to work. We spent all Saturday cleaning and scrubbing away until my seats were literally a totally different color and my car looked brand new. Now every time I drive to work I have the biggest smile on my face and can't help but feel loved and cared for. Since my mom and her wife went above and beyond to help me I wanted to do something special for them. My mom has a horrible dairy allergy so she can't enjoy many desserts, and her wife has been begging me to bring over some sort of treat for weeks now. I had been experimenting with homemade maraschino cherries and thought little cheesecakes would be the perfect way to thank them for all their love and hard work. Even my siblings were grateful for the tasty treat. 

**If you are craving cheesecake, but aren't interested in all the sugar this one has or would like a more traditional version, check out my Mocha Cheesecake.

Maraschino Cherry Method Adapted from Cup Cake Project 

Maraschino Cherries (must be made 2-3 days in advance of cheesecakes)
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup pomegranate cranberry juice
1 cup coconut sugar
Juice from 3 lemons
Peel from one medium-large orange
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp fennel seeds
3 cups cherries (pitted)
8 sheets phyllo dough
1/2 cup sugar
8 ounces vegan cream cheese (I used Tofurky)
1 can vegetable, coconut or olive oil spray
1. Stir all of the ingredients for the maraschino cherries except the cherries into a medium sized pot. Allow the pot to reach a simmer over medium high heat stirring the liquid until the sugar has dissolved. Once the liquid has begun to simmer add in the cherries and allow the liquid to continue simmering for an additional 8 minutes.
2. Remove the pot from the stove and allow it to cool to room temperature before placing the cherries in a jar. Pour enough liquid into the jar to fill it up then refrigerate it for 2-3 days.
3. Allow your phyllo dough to thaw according to package instructions, then carefully lay out one sheet of dough and lightly spray it with oil. Carefully place a second sheet on top and continue layering sheets and oil until you have a stack of 8 sheets layered. Cut the sheet into 12 equal sized squares.
4. Preheat oven to 350. Line the cups of a muffin pan with your dough squares. The tips of the squares should stick above the rim of the pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and set aside to cool.
5. While the cups are baking cream your cream cheese and sugar together. Once your cups have reached room temperature scoop your cream cheese into each cup and top it off with as many maraschino cherries as you'd like!
Serve at room temperature or chilled


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