Whip Up Mini Red Velvet Cheesecakes for Valentine's Day
With this easy layered dessert, you and your Valentine get to enjoy two treats in one
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Mini Red Velvet Cheesecakes. Recipe and photographs by Annalise Sandberg.
Valentine’s Day is a “special night-in” for my whole family, including my two young boys. I prepare something a little extra fancy for dinner, we sit down to a table with candles and flowers, and we always finish with a memorable dessert.
These mini red velvet cheesecakes are exactly the kind of elegant treat for the occasion. They're delicious and impressive, but also easy enough that I can put them together while I help the kids with their homework after school.
To create them I top thin layers of homemade red velvet cake with a simple no-bake cheesecake filling. I let them hang out in the fridge to firm up, then at dessert time, I add my favorite store-bought chocolate sauce and fresh raspberries. The single-serving size means everyone gets their own beautiful dessert — and sharing is simple, just in case a box of chocolates shows up, too.
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What is red velvet cake?
Red velvet cake is so much more than just a red cake, though its red color is certainly its most famous quality. It has a soft velvety crumb and a unique blend of vanilla flavor with a hint of cocoa.
Red velvet cake pairs extremely well with rich and tangy cream cheese frosting, of course, which is why I know you’ll love these mini red velvet cheesecakes. They’re a tasty twist on a classic combination!
Red food coloring alternatives
This red velvet cake recipe uses 1 tablespoon of traditional liquid red food coloring to get a vibrant color; however, alternatives such as gel coloring, powdered food coloring, and natural food coloring will work just as well. Feel free to use what you prefer or have in your pantry.
If you’re going with gel food coloring, use 1/2 teaspoon. If you’re using powdered or natural dye, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for replacing liquid red food coloring.
How to make homemade red velvet cheesecakes
This layered dessert has several steps, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s difficult or time-consuming. In fact, prep time for the recipe is about 30 minutes. The hardest part is waiting 4 hours for these mini red velvet cheesecakes to firm up in the fridge! Total time for the recipe is about 5 hours.
1. Bake red velvet cake bottoms
You’re going to start by whisking together the dry ingredients in one bowl, meaning the all-purpose flour, sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients — the buttermilk, vegetable oil, large egg yolk, red food coloring and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.
You’ll notice these quantities are small! There’s only 1/3 cup of flour in the recipe. That’s because you’re making mini cupcake layers.
Now add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix till smooth. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the red velvet cake batter into each well of a muffin pan lined with cupcake liners. (There’s no springform pan needed here, no parchment paper, and definitely no water bath, as with some full-size cheesecakes.)
Bake the red velvet cake layers in a 350°F preheated oven until the centers are firm and springy when gently pressed, 7-8 minutes. (If you prefer to test with a toothpick, it should come out with only a few moist crumbs.) Let the cupcakes cool on a wire rack while you make the cheesecake layer.
2. Prepare the no-bake cheesecake filling
Pull out your stand mixer or hand mixer and beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract in a large bowl for a few minutes until creamy. It might be tempting to use the cream cheese cold out of the fridge, but trust me, it will beat up so much smoother if you let it come to room temperature. Transfer the cream cheese mixture to another bowl. Then in the same mixing bowl, beat the heavy whipping cream until it’s thick and holds medium peaks.
With a rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture in two additions. You want to be careful here not to deflate the whipped cream when combining the two — the filling should be very light and fluffy.
If you’ve got a large cookie scoop, it’s the perfect size to evenly divide the cheesecake filling among the cupcake liners, but you can also eyeball it and spoon about 3 tablespoons into each. Smooth them into a flat, even layer.
3. Chill the mini cheesecakes until firm
Now this is the hard part! These mini cheesecakes need to firm up in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving (you can simply put the whole muffin pan in the fridge as-is). Waiting isn't easy, but it will definitely be worth it. Plan ahead and prepare the cheesecakes the night or morning before you want to enjoy them.
4. Top with chocolate and raspberries
When you’re ready to serve this mini red velvet cheesecake recipe, spoon about a teaspoon of store-bought hot fudge or chocolate sauce onto the top of the cheesecakes. If you’re using hot fudge sauce, follow the instructions to reheat it so it’s just spreadable but not actually hot, so you don’t melt the cheesecake. Both kinds of sauce are delicious, but I prefer the thick consistency and flavor of hot fudge sauce.
How to store cheesecake
These mini cheesecakes should be stored in the fridge and will keep fresh in an airtight container for up to 2 days. So if you like to plan ahead, or life throws you a curveball and you can't serve them the day you make them, don't stress! Just add the chocolate topping and fresh raspberries right before serving and you'll be good to go.
Get the Mini Red Velvet Cheesecakes recipe
While these simple but elegant mini desserts are the perfect treat for a Valentine’s dinner, keep them in mind for a date night-in, party, and other special occasions.
More ways to treat your Valentine
You just might be in the mood for a second dessert or two, and we have lots more ideas in these next articles.