Full size desserts are great, but there is something irresistible about a tiny dessert in a shot glass. They are perfectly sized to satisfy any sweet tooth and just plain adorable. My Very Berry NY Cheesecake Shooters are simply amazing! Imagine a crunchy graham cracker crust with a creamy and lemony cheesecake filling that is topped with fresh berries coated in a Raspberry Grand Marnier Sauce. What’s not to love about that? It has both texture and flavor wrapped up in a tiny bite!
Dessert shooters are great for birthday parties, family gathering, showers and they display beautifully at any buffet table. Click here if you want to learn more about How To Set Up A Buffet. Of all the dessert shooters I’ve made and enjoyed, this combination is hands down my favorite. One thing I’ve learned – make plenty! No one ever eats just one. I’m also sharing a time-saving hack at the end of the post!
HERE’S HOW I MADE IT
In a food processor pulse together a sleeve of Grahams crackers with 3 tablespoons of sugar (granulated white or light brown sugar) 1/2 cup pecans and half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. With the food processor on, drizzle in 4 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter. Pulse just until combined and you have a crumb texture. Transfer the mixture onto a small tray and flatten into a single layer. Bake at 350°F for 5-6 minutes just until the crumbs are a bit toasted and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Note: If pressed for time, or if you don’t have an oven, you can skip toasting the graham cracker crust. I find toasting enhances the crunchy texture and releases the nutty fragrance, but it can be eaten without toasting.
While the crust is cooling, make the raspberry sauce. Frozen berries are a great freezer staple item. So useful in so many ways. When making the raspberry sauce, I always make a full batch and use any remaining sauce over ice cream, with fresh fruit and cream, crepes, etc. If you wish, you can make half the recipe with 6 ounces of fresh raspberries.
Note: Sauce can be made ahead of time. It keeps well in the refrigerator up to a week and in the freezer up to a month. Just thaw overnight in the refrigerator and mix well before using.
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, combine the frozen fruit, 2 tablespoons of water and about 1/4 -1/3 cup of granulated sugar. I don’t measure the sugar, but the raspberries are tart so add according to your preference. Start with less sugar and add a little more, depending on how sweet or tart you want the sauce. Break up the frozen chunks of fruit with a wooden spoon and stir well to combine all the ingredients. Simmer for about 5 minutes to reduce the liquid. As the sauce simmers, press the raspberries against the side of the sauce pan with the wooden spoon. This will break up the fruit, help thicken the sauce and prevent the fruit from sticking to the pan.
Note: The wooden spoon works best here because it is rigid and it helps to mash the fruit against the side of the pan. A spatula will not work as well. Don’t walk away and leave unattended. Sauces with high sugar content can burn quickly. Should that happen, you’ll need to start over.
Once the raspberries have been mashed, add about 1/2 cup of seedless red raspberry jam or preserves and stir until combined. The gelatine in the jam will help thicken the sauce, give it a glossy sheen and reinforce the raspberry flavor. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer the sauce until the jam has melted and blended with the fruit, about 2-3 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Adding Grand Marnier is optional, but I find the subtle orange flavor elevates the sauce. Add 2-3 tablespoons of Grand Marnier or your favorite orange liquor at the end and cook out the alcohol during the last minute. You can also just turn off the heat and add the liquor, stir to blend, and not cook out the alcohol. I’ve made it both ways and it’s always amazing!
Note: If you don’t have Grand Marnier, substitute with Cointreau, Triple Sec or any orange flavored liqueur brand you prefer.
Concerned about serving this sauce to children? The ratio of alcohol to raspberry sauce is minimal so it isn’t enough to intoxicate anyone, but it does add flavor! I personally leave it, advise the parents and let them decide for their kids. It has never been an issue with my family or guests.
Once the sauce is done, transfer the berry mixture into a sieve that’s been placed over a large open mouth bowl, like a Pyrex bowl. Use a rubber spatula to press the berries against the sieve, pushing through all the liquid and pulp into the bottom bowl, leaving behind only the seeds in the sieve. This takes a few minutes, but it’s worth it.
Note: A flexible rubber spatula works best to push the pulp through. Taking the time to remove the seeds is not a requirement as it won’t affect the taste, but it will be less enjoyable to eat. I prefer to enjoy and serve a rich, smooth, velvety sauce.
Rinse the spatula to remove any seeds and scrape the pulp from the bottom of the sieve. Discard the seeds. Whisk the liquid and pulp until smooth and allow to cool. Transfer the sauce to a container and set aside. I like to use a Wilton 12-ounce squeeze bottle to decorate a plate or a small pitcher if displaying on a buffet table so guests can self-serve.
Let’s make the NY cream cheese filling! In a mixing bowl, cream a block of room temperature cream cheese with a cup of granulated sugar. Add about 1/4 cup of good sour cream, like Daisy, the zest of a large lemon and a teaspoon of pure vanilla paste or extract. Beat until smooth and creamy, remembering to scrape down the sides of the bowl mid way. Set aside.
In another bowl, preferably a cold bowl, whip together a cup of cold heavy whipping cream, 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and half a teaspoon of vanilla paste or extract. Whip until you have medium soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture in two batches. By folding in batches you don’t deflate the air out of the whipped cream and you’ll have a light and fluffy cream mixture. Transfer the contents into a large Wilton16-inch piping bag and refrigerate until ready to assemble, at least 30 minutes.
Notes: Whipping cream whips better when it’s cold and whipped in a cold bowl. You can pop the bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes. If making the shooters a day ahead, you may want to stabilize the whipped cream by adding 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar. Stable whipped cream holds it’s volume longer so it works to your advantage if you’re making it the day before. If you don’t have a piping bag, use a gallon size Ziploc bag and cut the tip prior to piping the filling into the shot glasses.
To make the fruit topping, dice about a cup of hulled strawberries and combine with some blueberries in a small bowl. Drizzle enough raspberry sauce over the fruit to toss and coat. Set aside and allow the flavors to marry while the filling chills.
Assembly is faster when you fill all the shot glasses one layer at a time. This is also a great time to get the kids involved.
Add about tablespoon of graham cracker crumbs to the shot glass and use another shot glass to lightly tamp the crumbs in place. Don’t tamp too hard or you’ll compact the crumb layer making it hard to scoop out. The goal is to grab a little bit of each layer when you dig in with a spoon.
Once all the shot glasses have the graham crumb base, proceed with piping the cream cheese filling. Snip the tip off the piping bag and insert the tip into the shot glass. Apply even pressure as you lift the piping bag up, filling the shot glass only 3/4 of the way, leaving room for the fruit topping.
Use a dessert spoon to top each shot glass with some fresh fruit, and if desired, drizzle extra raspberry sauce. Depending on how generous you are with your fruit, you may need to make more fruit topping.
Optional: Garnishes are optional and they do look so pretty when presenting. You can garnish with fresh fruit, fresh mint leaves, edible flowers or themed party picks for special occasions. These were made during the work week just for the family to enjoy so they are not garnished.
This recipe yields about 25 dessert shot glasses and can be easily be doubled for a larger party or buffet table. The cream cheese filling is very versatile and can be used as a base to make so many other flavor combinations. I’ll be writing a post about this soon. The shot glasses shown here are from Amazon and they come with a mini plastic spoon.
Note: I consider any left over graham crackers, cheesecake filling and fruit topping as the chef’s cut. Yes, I like to gather all those bits and pieces that remain and make myself a chef size sample to enjoy in the quiet or chaos of the moment.
The family loved them so much they were all gone in less than an hour. That’s always a good sign. I hope you enjoy them and please, leave a comment below.
QUICK TIME-SAVING HACK
Assemble the dessert shooter by using some time-saving shortcuts. There’s no shame in taking short cuts when you can. Life is busy and we can’t always make everything from scratch. I’ve taken this short cut plenty of times, especially when the house was full of hungry teenagers. Layer Graham Cracker Crumbs (no need to toast) at the bottom of the shot glass. Did you know that Graham Crackers also come packaged as crumbs? Great time-saver! Follow the recipe for the cream cheese filling, but fold in Cool Whip topping instead of making your own whipped cream. Top the dessert with your favorite fruit pie filling and you’re done! Voila! Easy-peasy.
Note: Comstock makes various fruit pie fillings and they are delicious. It’s always good to have a can in your pantry.
Very Berry NY Cheesecake Shooters
An easy and delicious fruity cheesecake in a shot glass! Perfectly sized to satisfy a sweet tooth and makes a gorgeous display at any party or buffet table.
GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST
- 1 sleeve graham crackers
- 3 Tablespoons granulated or light brown sugar
- ½ cup whole pecans
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted prefer Plugra or Kerrygold brands
RASPBERRY GRAND MARNIER SAUCE
- 1 10-ounce bag frozen raspberries
- ¼-⅓ cup of granulated sugar add sugar to taste, raspberries can be tart
- 2 Tablespoons water
- ½ cup seedless red raspberry jam or preserves
- 3 Tablespoons Grand Marnier or orange liquor optional
CREAM CHEESE FILLING
- 1 8-ounce block cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup sour cream prefer Daisy brand
- zest of 1 large lemon
- 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla paste or extract, divided 1 tsp for cream cheese, ½ tsp for whipped cream
- 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
- 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
- Optional: ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar used to stabilize the whipped cream
- about 1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and diced
- about ½ fresh blueberries
MAKING THE GRAHAM CRACKER CRUMBS
Preheat oven to 350°F, place oven rack in the center and line a baking sheet or tray with foil for easy clean up.
In a food processor, combine graham crackers, sugar, pecans and ground cinnamon and pulse a few times to break up the graham crackers and nuts.
With the processor on, slowly drizzle the melted butter and pulse a few times until combined and you have an even crumb mixture.
Transfer the crumb mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread them evenly. Bake for 5-6 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
MAKING THE RASPBERRY SAUCE
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, add the frozen raspberries, granulated sugar and water. Break up the frozen chunks of fruit with a wooden and stir well to combine. Simmer about 5 minutes. As the fruit simmers, use a wooden spoon to press the berries against the side of the sauce pan.
Add the seedless raspberry jam/preserves and stir until the jam has blended well with the fruit, an additional few minutes. Add the Grand Marnier and cook for a minute longer (if you wish to cook out the alcohol) or remove from the heat immediately.
Pour sauce over a sieve into a heat proof container, such as a Pyrex bowl. Using a rubber spatula, press the fruit against the sieve to press the liquid and pulp through, leaving behind only the seeds. Rinse the spatula to remove any seeds and scrape the pulp collected at the bottom of the sieve. Add the pulp to the bowl and whisk to combine. Set side to cool.
MAKING THE CREAM CHEESE FILLING
In a mixing bowl, cream the block of cream cheese with the granulated sugar. Add sour cream, lemon zest and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Beat until smooth and creamy, while occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl. Set aside.
In a cold mixing bowl, whip together the cold heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and the remaining ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Whip until you have medium soft peaks.
Optional: If making the shooters a day ahead, you may want to stabilize the whipped cream by adding 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar. If you don't have cream of tartar, you can omit this ingredient and beat the whipping cream a little longer, but be careful not to over whip.
Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture in two batches as not to deflate the whipped cream. Transfer the contents into a large piping bag or plastic zip bag and refrigerate until ready to assemble, at least 30 minutes.
MACERATING THE FRUIT
In a small bowl, combine the diced strawberries and blueberries and add enough raspberry sauce to coat. Toss well and set aside to macerate.
Add about a Tablespoon of the graham cracker toasted mixture to each shot glass. Use another shot glass to lightly tamp down.
Snip the tip off the piping bag and insert the tip into the shot glass. Apply even pressure as you life the piping bag up, filling the shot glass only 3/4 of the way.
Spoon macerated fruit and add extra raspberry sauce. You can garnish with a mint leaf or edible flowers, if you prefer.
QUICK TIME-SAVING HACK
Layer Graham Cracker Crumbs (no need to toast) at the bottom of the shot glass. Follow the recipe for the cream cheese filling, but fold in Cool Whip topping instead of making your own whipped cream. Top the dessert with your favorite fruit pie filling and you’re done!