Homemade Gift Ideas: Cheesecake in a Jar

Cheesecake in a jar might sound like a bizarre new marketing ploy from Betty Crocker or Sara Lee, but it really just means what it says: it is a cheesecake baked in a glass jar. The finished treats are perfect for giving to friends, relatives, and even your mailman. The best part of all is that you use any cheesecake recipe you like.

Find glass jars with rounded edges and screw-on lids. Whether you have the jars on hand or buy the jars specifically for the project, wash the insides with warm water and soap. Rinse out any soap residue and let the jars dry overnight, upside down on an old towel. A four-ounce jar is enough for one to two servings of cheesecake, but you may want a larger jar.

After the jars dry, mix crumbled cookies or graham crackers in a small bowl. Add melted butter until the mixture forms thick, but slightly moist crumbs. Evenly distribute the crumbs into your glass jars and gently pack down the mixture onto the bottom of each one. The mixture should sit 1/2-inch above the bottom of the jar and lightly coat the bottom sides.

Set the glass jars on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes, or until the crumb mixture turns a golden brown color. Let the mixture cool until the glass jars reach room temperature. In a separate bowl, mix the ingredients for your favorite cheesecake recipe. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the now-cooled glass jars, filling the jars 3/4 of the way full.

Arrange the glass jars in a shallow baking dish and pour warm water around the edges. The water bath stops the cheesecake from cracking or breaking. Bake the cheesecakes at 350-degrees until the top sets, which should take 35 minutes or less. Start checking the oven after 25 minutes pass.

Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let cool. The cheesecake puffs and rises as it bakes, but don’t worry if the cheesecake puffs over the top of each jar. As the mixture cools, the cheesecake should sink back down.

After the cheesecake completely cools, screw the lid on each jar. Wrap a piece of colorful ribbon around the outside and tie in a bow. Attach a card on the outside, letting your gift recipients know that the cheesecake is ready to eat.

If you are not passing out the cheesecake in a jar, store the jars in the refrigerator. The cheesecakes should also be stored after opening, which keeps the ingredients from separating and reduces the risk of bacteria. Use the finished cheesecake jars as Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, or for any special occasion.

Make a classic vanilla or sour cream cheesecake recipe or pick something more unusual. Peanut butter cheesecake, pumpkin cheesecake, and cookie dough cheesecake are all great choices. You can even top an otherwise plain cheesecake recipe with fresh berries or chocolate sauce for an extra indulgence. Simply pour the topping into each jar, once the cheesecake cools, and screw on your lids.

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