This is such an easy way to prepare individual servings of cheesecake. Make them ahead and they’ll keep for a week, or freeze them for up to 3 months. This is a great recipe for hot summer months when you don’t want to turn on your oven – your slow cooker won’t heat up your kitchen like a large range oven will!I use a large 8-quart slow cooker, which will hold all 9 jars. If your slow cooker is smaller, you can refrigerate half of the jars while the other half bake. The jars are easy to lid and tote to a BBQ, potluck, or picnic. See the recipe notes for topping ideas.
Have nine 4 oz. jars washed and dried ahead of time. Place them on a baking sheet and set aside.
Place the crumbs and sugar in a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the melted butter and mix together using a rubber spatula. Mash the crumbs into the butter and turn them over repeatedly until the mixture resembles wet sand.
Place about 1 tablespoon of the crumb mixture into each of the 9 jars. Tamp down the crust using the bottom of a small glass (I used a shot glass). Set aside while you prepare the filling.
In a large mixing bowl, place the cream cheese and beat on high speed with a hand mixer for 2-3 minutes until creamy and no lumps remain.
Scrape down the bowl and add the lemon zest. Mix until combined.
Add the sugar and cornstarch. Beat until well blended. Scraped down the bowl as needed.
Add the vanilla, egg, and heavy cream. Beat until smooth.
Transfer the cheesecake batter to a large piping bag or a large zip top bag with a corner snipped. Pipe the cheesecake batter over the crust in the jars within about 1/2 inch of the jar tops (to the first line).
Place the jars, uncovered, in the slow cooker and very carefully pour in tepid tap water using a container with a pour spout (a teakettle works well). Pour the water about halfway up the jars.
Place the cover on the slow cooker and cook on high for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. The cheesecakes will puff slightly. They’ll be set around the edges and have just a slight wobble in the center when they’re done.
Remove the jars using a canning jar lifter, or allow the jars to cool inside the crock until the top edges are cool enough to handle. Remove to a countertop and let them cool slightly at room temperature. Transfer them to a baking sheet and refrigerate them until set, about 2 hours. The cheesecake will sink down a little bit and become concave with refrigeration. This makes a little more room for any toppings you’d like to add before lidding.
The un-topped cheesecakes will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. Or, freeze them for up to 3 months. Allow them to thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
What to expect: This version of cheesecake is much like dense New York style cheesecake. A little lemon zest in the batter enhances the flavor without giving it overt lemon flavor. Serve with small dessert spoons. Toppings: The video in the blog post will give you some ideas for toppings, but the sky’s the limit! If you’re short on time, use prepared jarred jams and sauces that require no extra prep. Strawberry jam, dulce de leche, and lemon curd are all excellent toppers. If you have more time, my spiked chocolate saucemakes a delicious topper, or make a quick compote (this cranberry-orange sauce would be great around the holidays!). Fresh berries and whipped cream are also really great toppers.