Mini Rainier Cherry Cheesecakes

Dear Andrea,

Remember when you were eleven years old and you made a collage of the life you dreamed to lead as a grown up? The one with the knee socks, plaid skirt, collared shirt, and sweater vest- the outfit idea you snagged from Cher’s wardrobe in Clueless? Yup, that’s the one. While it’s cute that you scoured Seventeen for clothing to cut out and create said outfit, the notion that you could pull off knee socks with any shred of class is almost troubling. Once those pictures have been burned, keep the rest of the collage intact, because I’m fairly certain that there are some valuables in that magazine-clipped mania.

There are bold fonts spelling the bouncy words you’d like to craft a personality around- fun, confident, fashionable, intuitive, and passionate. We’ll pretend there’s an exclamation mark following each adjective. And if we could, I’d like to address those words for a moment. How’s ‘fun’ going in your life? I’d say great. There’s lots of laughter. Oodles of shenanigans, too. And ‘confident?’ Please, I’m giving Diddy lessons in ego. ‘Fashionable?’ If we can call side ponies and oversized tees that say “Somebunny loves me” on them fashionable, then… Okay, but how’s it going on the ‘intuitive’ front? I called the Speidi breakup at least two months in advance. And I had a hunch Mel wasn’t done ranting semi-publicly. Lastly, what are you ‘passionate’ about? Gosh, so many things. Chocolate, family, friends, chocolate, movies, things that are covered in chocolate. Oh, and fluff.

There are photos of you with friends. So unfortunate that you snipped each 4×6 into diamond shapes, stars, and hearts. Thanks be to the Lord that you sprang for doubles. They show you laughing. As happy as you knew happy to be. And are you now?

There are colors. Either an homage to “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” or a symbol of how vibrant you’d hoped your life would be by now. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and hope it’s the latter. But if I know you and that damn color spectrum…

There are song lyrics. Whole verses that touched you then and touch you now. So in love with any person who could articulate that feeling at that time and at that place. And in that note. Maybe unnecessary that Chumbawamba made such a prominent appearance. Especially since you’re still not sure what to make of the chorus. But you had some poetic grace in sixth grade, didn’t you?

There are celebrities. Oh, the Leo cut outs. If only you knew then that one day you’d be working on a film set with him, talking to him in a tone not resembling hysteria…trying to be casual when you look like a Glow Worm. Then there’s the Devon Sawa portraits, and hey- remember Jonathan Jackson? Sigh. But, Andrea… you’ve simply got to cut the crap on the Fred Savage front. And call it a day with his brother Ben, for that matter. You know they only had eyes for Winnie and Topanga, respectively. Get over it.

The collage, though as dated as Love Connection (speaking of- Chuck Woolery was a fox), reveals so much about you. What you loved, what you wore, what made you smile and laugh. It’s a time capsule from 1996. From the days when you spent nearly every day dreaming up your destiny. Why did you think it was mappable? Why have you stopped mapping now?

I guess because I stopped preparing for the vacation and actually took it. Stopped saving, took a hammer to my piggy bank, retrieved my lifetime’s worth of “When I’m…” pennies, and cashed them in to set sail on that trip. About time.

The thing is, I spent twenty years planning a future life. Penning lists of my career, my twenty-something wardrobe, baby names, and the number of the pier where I’d live like a castmate on Real World Seattle. That was the extent of my precision. It’s like wishing Ihad a million dollars. There’s zillions more things to think about before you have the money in pocket. You’re ripping pages out of “Yacht Club Monthly” and talking to real estate agents on the Amalfi Coast before you’ve even checked your lottery numbers. But once you’ve got that cash in the bank, it’s too tangible to tickle you in the same way. By then you’re considering the taxes, the cost of buying your mom a new car because she really shouldn’t be driving that old box, and God you’d love for her to not work so much.

I stopped planning my future because I don’t want to miss the present. I realized that nothing ever goes according to plan, anyway.

“Wait, so at which point in my twenties do I become a fashion designer slash marine biologist slash pop singer? Before or after my wedding is televised?”

Maybe it’s just turning a certain age that changes you from lofty dreamer to doer. And that’s not to say that I don’t dream. It’s just that I’m not fast forwarding my life anymore. But I could still stand to make a collage every now and then. They make the future seem bright, worth getting to. In another fourteen years I’ll have a whole new set of ideas about old Andrea. And hopefully better taste than Chumbawamba.

Mini Cheesecakes (adapted from Martha Stewart)

makes 18

For graham crust:

  • 1 cup finely crushed graham cracker crumbs (12 graham cracker sheets)
  • 1 TBS sugar
  • 3 TBS unsalted butter, melted

For filling:

  • 1 lb cream cheese (two 8 oz packages), at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • ½ cup jam (any flavor)- I used cherry


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. I did not use the paper liners because I’m absolutely out of my mind and wanted them to look perfectly formed without the lines of the cups. This is possible, yet pretty fussy to do. You must first grease each muffin cup, trace the circles of the muffin cups onto parchment paper, cut those circles out, and place each circle in the bottom of the cups. Then spritz these parchment rounds with cooking spray just to ensure that they don’t stick at all. Then you’ll press the graham crumbs firmly into place if you wish to do the same as I did. I recommend the paper liners, though, for almost everyone. Except my clinically insane brethren.


Grind your cracker sheets into crumbs using a food processor. You can also just place the crackers in a large ziploc and have at it with a rolling pin or hammer, until you achieve a finely ground crumb.

Mix crumbs and 1 tablespoon sugar in a bowl. Stir in butter. Press 1 heaping tablespoon of mixture in bottom of each cup. Bake until set, about 7 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks.

Reduce oven temperature to 275 degrees. Beat cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar, salt, and then vanilla.

With mixer running, add eggs slowly, scraping down side of bowl.

Pour batter into muffin cups, filling almost to the tops.

Bake until sides are set but centers are wobbly, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks. Wrap tins tightly with plastic, and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Warm jam in a small saucepan until liquidy. Strain through a sieve. Spoon 1 teaspoon jam on top of each cake. Cheesecakes will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days.



19 thoughts on “Mini Rainier Cherry Cheesecakes

  1. lisaou11

    I love this.

    It’s so fun to go back and look at all the dreams you had as a young girl. The world was wide open and nothing was impossible.

    I do think there’s an age where you become a doer. You realize to make any dreams come true, you must get out there and make them happen.

  2. Anna

    Ahhh, so many memories in this post!! I wanted that Cher outfit SO FREAKIN’ BAD!!! I really wanted her mechanical closet more than anything. I also harbored major feelings for Devon Sawa…although I favored Ryder Strong over Ben Savage by a long shot. :-)

    I’ve been obsessed with Rainier cherries lately…this looks awesome!

  3. Erica

    You had me at graham cracker crust. Amazing. Oh clueless- such a fabulous movie. Was there anyone who didn’t want to be her and have that closet?

  4. Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine

    The Devon Sawa reference quite possibly makes you my new favorite person. I am so excited to meet you at HLS and ask you all about Leo, too!!

    Your cooking skills always amaze me. It seems that everything you make turns out so perfectly…you really have a calling for this!!

  5. fattydumpling

    Now, I was the total opposite, I never did conjure up my future or dreams when I was a youngin. I didn’t have any passions except for my books and living in the moment, but I liked reading about yours ;] You should go ahead and make that new collage, and maybe I shall to–let’s see where we want to be and where we are at in a few years.

    Ahah, and these mini cheese cakes look so pretty and delicious, the rainier cherries takes the cake–they look like plums on a giant cake!

  6. Liz @ Tip Top Shape

    Oh my goodness, is it bad that I love this post not because of the delicious recipe but because of your small, so-quick-you-could-miss-it reference to Jonathan Jackson?? As a girl who grew up watching General Hospital (if you know him from movies, he played Lucky) this made me very, very happy :-D

    The recipe looks good too, of course. haha

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  8. Katrina

    These were DELICIOUS!!! Omg, exactly like what a super fancy restaurant would serve. Thank you for posting this!!

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  10. twitter

    Interesting blog! Is your theme custom made or did you
    download it from somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple tweeks would really
    make my blog jump out. Please let me know where you got your design.
    Thanks a lot

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