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Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheesecake Bites

This very rich and very creamy dessert is perfect for a crowd event. Cheesecake itself symbolizes holiday fun, but this recipe is great year-round. Because they're bite size, they're easy to serve — a big plus!

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheesecake Bites

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Cooking time: 25 to 30 minutes

Chill time: 1 to 24 hours

Yield: 24 servings

1-1/2 cups finely crushed chocolate wafer cookies

1/4 cup butter, melted

2/3 cup, 2 tablespoons sugar, divided

24 chocolate kisses

4 8-ounce packages (32 ounces) cream cheese, softened

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup chunky peanut butter

2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

2 teaspoons shortening

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 24 2-1/2-inch muffin cups (in pans) with foil liners.

2. In a small bowl, combine the crushed wafers, butter, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar.

3. Divide the mixture evenly among the 24 lined cups. Press it into the bottom of the cups, creating the crusts.

4. In each cup, place a chocolate kiss with the point facing up.

5. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and remaining 2/3 cup of sugar until smooth.

6. Beat in the eggs and vanilla, just until blended.

7. Beat in the peanut butter.

8. Gently spoon about 1/4 cup of the cream cheese mixture over the kiss in each cup. The cup should be full.

9. Bake for 25 minutes or until the filling is set. Remove the pans from the oven and cool them on a wire rack for 30 minutes.

10. Melt the chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave on high power until smooth.

11. Remove the cheesecakes from the foil liners and place them on a cookie sheet. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cheesecakes.

12. Cover the cookie sheet tightly with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 1 to 24 hours.

Whenever you cook any kind of cheesecake, always use a water bath. A water bath is simply a pan of water that you place on the rack underneath your cheesecake. (The cheesecake doesn't actually sit in this water bath.) The water bath creates humidity in the oven and helps prevent the cheesecake from cracking on top. When you're cooking with a water bath, you may need to slightly extend the cooking time due to the added moisture.

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