For the first time in years, it is nearly mid-August and instead of yearning for fall, I am absolutely loving and hanging onto summer.  I don’t know if it’s because of the milder weather this year or if having my first baby in school makes me want to slow down time with every ounce of my being, but whatever it is, I’m glad to be living in the moment and loving summer.  I’m certainly not ready to say goodbye to all the fresh seasonal produce any time soon.  Last week, when eating the cherries in my lunch, I realized that though I’ve been eating cherries daily, I haven’t cooked or baked a single thing with them this year.  Clearly, that needed to change.  As luck or coincidence would have it, the next day, a coworker requested cherry cheesecake cupcakes for her birthday.  Perfecto!

I’ve been a major lover of cherry cheesecake for years, but the kind I was most familiar with was a boxed no-bake variety topped with canned pie filling.  That’s not really my style anymore, so I set out to make a version with fresh cherry topping to capitalize on this gorgeous fruit while it’s still available.  I used the same technique as I do with my fruit mix-ins for yogurt and it turned out wonderfully.  You could just as easily use frozen cherries once the season is over – it will still be much more fresh than anything from a can, and you can pronounce all the ingredients.  The cheesecakes will sink a little after they come out of the oven but that works out perfectly for holding a spoonful of the cherry topping.

  • Yield about 30 cupcakes


For the crust:
1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp. sugar

For the filling:
2 lbs. cream cheese, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature

For the topping: 
1½ lbs. fresh cherries, pitted and quartered
½ cup sugar
4 tsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. lemon juice


  • 01

    Preheat the oven to 325˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar.  Stir together with a fork until well blended and all the dry ingredients are moistened.  Press 1 tablespoon of the mixture into the bottom of each cupcake liner.  (I like to use a small drinking glass to press the crumbs down.) Bake until just set, 5 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack.

  • 02

    To make the cheesecake, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy.  Blend in the sugar until smooth.  Mix in the salt and vanilla.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

  • 03

    Divide the batter evenly between the liners, filling each about  3/4 of the way full.  Bake until the filling is set, about 22 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  (They will look quite puffed initially but will return to normal quickly.)  Transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool to room temperature.  Transfer to the refrigerator and let chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

  • 04

    To make the cherry topping, combine the cherries and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Heat until the cherries begin to release their juices and soften, about 6-8 minutes. Mix the cornstarch and lemon juice until smooth, then stir into the cherry mixture.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 minute until thickened. Remove from the heat.  Transfer to a bowl, cover and chill.  Top each cheesecake with a small spoonful of the cherry topping before serving.