In our elementary school years, my brother and I begged, pleaded, and cajoled our parents to treat us to Sunday brunch at Marie Callender’s on special occasions. We listed three logical reasons to support our cause: (a) they wouldn’t have to cook or wash the dishes, (b) we’d go after the early church service before the rest of the world woke up to have the restaurant to ourselves, and (c) they loved the make-your-own omelet station.
We strategically omitted the fourth reason of (d) us kids loved the waffle bar.
Yes, an all-you-can-eat waffle bar, designed specifically with sugar-craving children in mind. Their specialty iron shaped the waffles into long rectangular boats with a deep hollowed-out center perfect for piling high with toppings. We skipped over the first few options—plump strawberries, juicy honeydew, crunchy granola, slivered almonds—and headed straight for the chocolate chips, mini M&Ms, gummy bears, rainbow sprinkles, and whipped cream at the end of the buffet line. Plus a large ladleful of maple syrup.
Back at the table, we started cutting away at our sugar-high-on-a-plate breakfast creations. The chocolate candies melted from the warm waffles and oozed out all over everything else. We scraped it up with our forks after finishing (but not fingers; Mom drew the line there) and tried to bargain for a second trip just to load up on more gummy bears.
Although it didn’t do much besides digesting back then, my stomach now churns at the thought of dessert for breakfast. That might sound like a good idea, it warns me. But you’re not going to like the bellyaching I do later!
But my stomach ate its words when I mentioned my latest idea…
Maple Bacon Breakfast Cheesecakes.
Yes, cheesecake for breakfast—and it’s actually healthy!
They start with the crust. Instead of graham crackers and butter, I opted for instant oatmeal and unsweetened applesauce. Don’t have instant oats? Make your own by adding old-fashioned (or gluten-free) oats to a food processor and pulsing 5-6 times. Stir in the applesauce, press into the bottoms of a jumbo muffin pan, and bake for 8 minutes. The low-fat, heart-healthy crust really is that easy!
For the filling, I cooked turkey bacon to cut back on fat and calories. And when it comes to maple syrup, I don’t mess around. I always choose the good stuff, straight from the trees!
You’ll only use 2 ½ teaspoons of syrup per cheesecake. (That’s less than most people—children or adults—pour on their pancakes!) So to really bring out the maple flavor, you’ll need a tiny bit of maple extract. Although probably not a staple in your pantry, it’s worth every penny. It’s my secret weapon because it adds a big burst of maple to each bite of your creamy cheesecake. That addictive flavor will bring each forkful to your mouth faster than you can chew!
The cheesecakes only bake for 20-22 minutes. The centers should still jiggle a little when you pull them out; they’ll continue to bake a bit more in the warm pan as they cool to room temperature. Then lay a piece of plastic wrap on top, pop in the fridge, and your next morning’s breakfast is all done!
These Maple Bacon Breakfast Cheesecakes are a tasty time-saver for entertaining guests or lazy weekend mornings. Instead of slaving over the stove flipping pancakes or frying eggs, you can shuffle into the kitchen in your comfy slippers, brew a pot of coffee or mix up a latte, and start eating a protein-packed breakfast (over 16 grams!) in a matter of minutes.
Now who says you can’t have “dessert” for breakfast?