Savory Ham & Swiss Cheesecake

The MotH has a problem with me calling this a cheesecake because that just makes everyone thing dessert and I do, really, get that. But when you preface the name with savory, I hope people can somehow make the transition.D&D_2297

Definition of a cheesecake – having a firm custard-like texture, with cream cheese, cottage cheese, or both. Well, that fits.

But when get right down to it – this has an almost (almost) obscene amount of cream cheese and eggs which is what most cheesecakes do.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 cups oyster crackers
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
7 large eggs
2 cups grated Swiss cheese (about 8 ounces) + some
1 cup 1/2-inch cubes ham + some
3 minced scallions
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

Preheat oven to 300°F. Brush 9 inch diameter springform pan with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Finely grind oyster crackers in the food processor. Mix cracker crumbs, Parmesan and 5 tablespoons melted butter in food processor to blend. Reserve 1/2 cup crumb mixture for topping; press remainder onto bottom and up sides of prepared pan. Refrigerate while preparing filling.

D&D_2336In a stand mixer, beat cream cheese and eggs until smooth. Mix in remaining ingredients. Pour filling into crust. Sprinkle reserved 1/2 cup crumbs over. Place cheesecake on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until filling no longer moves in center when pan is gently shaken, about 2 hours. Cool 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Make Ahead: can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand 2 hours at room temperature before serving. We are going to stretch this for a day for Thanksgiving, but I am pretty confident in it (see hurricane story below).

I made this the first time in 2004. It was really good. Not sure what the occasion was and we went to the MotH’s parents’ house just around the corner*, but here is the key point: We all liked it and – just to bury the lede – it was a great leftover after Hurricane Ivan took us out mostly. No, really. Just keep the fridge closed and things can stay safely in there for a day or so. This really worked, and to be honest, you do not want any kind of warm food right after a hurricane – um, ever. That is why Mandarin oranges are my go to food after a hurricane. Even at room temperature, they just rock.

That said, I have not made this since 2004 – likely out of an odd sense of “perhaps this is not a good idea,” but I am totally feeling out of hurricane season at this point. Thankfully, we dodged a big bullet in Irma, and Nate was just annoying, but no really biggie.

Source: Bon Appetit ? – will find out.
Sept 2004 – Leftover for Ivan
November 2017 for Thanksgiving

2 day method – crust mixture one day, cream cheese mixture next, assemble third and bake, serve at room temperature the next day.

Very good, yes, if I do say so myself, but my unsuspecting family testers said so. But both the MotH and is brother approved of my suggestion of serving with hot sauce – brand: Crystal.
Why Crystal? – heat, but also flavor and it does not completely blow your palate like Tabasco – which I also like, in certain applications, but not this one. The Boy has other opinions on hot sauce that usually include habaneros.

Crust is really crumbly on sides – and totally messy the entire time I was dealing with. Maybe just do bottom crust and topping – needs work, but the flavor is really good – just reduce the amount by probably half (?).

Next time with minced fresh jalapeño (The Boy) – another thought or a little pepper jelly would not go amiss at this point. Oh, pepper jelly on the top as a thin layer?? Maybe going too far afield. Nope, I don’t think so.

Or with pan-roasted mushrooms and spinach (or cress) as long as all the liquid is cooked out of both in a ruthless sort of manner. Little Dijon swirled in?
This could be a great Easter appetizer too.

Okay – and the work hack version with the cranberry horseradish relish was a revelation. Not a bad thing at all. Another really good option for some spice with this cheesecake.

D&D_1418_iPhoneAnd what to do with the rest of the oyster crackers – must be something, right?

*Might sound like a nightmare to some, but my in-laws are just the best. I love them dearly – always will. The Boy and I are very fortunate.

Lime Icebox Mini Cheesecakes

I am not typically and icebox kind of person, but I wanted something with lime that would be on the quick and easy side, so I decided to give these a try. They called them cupcakes, but they are really mini cheesecakes in cupcake form. At least they are to me.

I did store them in the freezer before taking to work and to be honest, I like them semi-frozen – just let them sit out of the freezer for a few minutes and they are really pretty good.D&D_1883

You could use key limes for this, but since I have no fresh key limes, I went for fresh Persian limes. I do not like bottled lime juice of any sort, really – same with bottled lemon juice unless it is for canning to get the acidity correct.
Makes 12 – thankfully – a nice easy number for a cupcake pan^ …

For the crust:
5 ounces graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
8 ounces cream cheese
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (7 ounces); 1/2 a can
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
6 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the topping:
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
raw sugar

Make the crust: Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.* In a small-ish bowl mix together graham crumbs, brown sugar, and salt. Drizzle in the melted butter and mix to incorporate well. The mixture should hold together in your hand when you squeeze it.

Divide the mixture evenly among the muffin liners, about 2 tablespoons per well. Use the bottom of a small glass to press the crumbs firmly into the pan to form the crusts. Place in the freezer until ready to fill.

Place the cream cheese, condensed milk, lime zest and juice, and salt a bowl and whisk until smooth. Divide the filling evenly among the muffin cups. Refrigerate until firm, 8 to 12 hours.

When ready to serve, place the sour cream, brown sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Top each key lime icebox cupcake with a dollop of sweetened sour cream and raw sugar – because raw sugar is crunchy and good.

Make ahead: The graham cracker crumb crust can be made 3 days in advance and stored, covered, in the refrigerator.

Storage: Stuck these in the freezer, well covered and the put in the fridge the day before serving. Worked pretty well. Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, although the crust may soften over time.

Source: The Kitchn with a couple of modifications.

^ Pet peeve – an odd number of muffins, cupcakes, whatever when everyone only has either a 6 cup or a 12 cup pan — I mean 14 cupcakes – makes me slightly crazy.

* Used really cute paper liners, but next time since I plan on storing for a day in the freezer will use foil liners.

Note: Again, these taste really good right out of the freezer, just let thaw for a couple of moments and wow. Yes, very good.

29 May 2017 – vg, easy too

Cheesecake Cupcakes

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I really love this plate. just saying.

Cheesecake can be a contentious thing. People love it or hate it, and even if you love it you can take multiple sides in the debate: French, New York, topped with all manner of things from fruits to caramel sauce. Etc.

Sometimes the best way to try something is to pick the simplest version, because to my mind, doing simple well is a real skill. It’s kind of the way I test out the kitchen in a restaurant that is new to me, order something simple. I did just that with a new Italian restaurant, ordered Fettuccine Alfredo. It was sublime which tells me to trust the kitchen because if they can do that well then I can only imagine that they can do the other things on the menu just as well. Happiness.

This is a simple cheesecake recipe, but also sublime. Thank you Martha Stewart – you always steer me in the right direction. Merci.

This is the full recipe, but I just made half.

3 1/2 pounds (seven 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5 large eggs, room temperature*

2 16-ounce containers sour cream
1 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
raw sugar for the top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line four 12-cup cupcake tins with heavyweight aluminum liners, and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides as needed.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and flour. With mixer on low speed, gradually add sugar mixture to cream cheese; mix until smooth. Add sour cream and vanilla; mix until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined; do not overmix.
Divide batter evenly among cupcake liners, 4 ounces per cupcake. Bake for 15 minutes.
Cool slightly until cupcakes become concave. In a medium bowl, stir together sour cream, sugar, and vanilla to make the sour cream topping. Place a heaping tablespoon of topping in the center of each cupcake, and spread gently to edges of liner. Top with a bit of raw sugar and return to oven for 10 minutes.
Cool to room temperature on a wire rack and chill in the refrigerator until cold, at least two hours.

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That’s Turbinado sugar on the top and it is excellent but not in the original recipe – but do it. And again, the plate is really cool.

*When I half a recipe that has an odd number of eggs, I always go one up – so in this case, I used three.

Sour Cream Cheesecake

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Sour Cream Cheese Cake

This was super easy cheesecake. Really light, not too sweet, and with a great flavor. I still love the Three Cities of Spain, but for a quick easy recipe where you typically have everything on hand, this is kind of hard to beat. Went over well at home (not too sweet) and at work (wow – real cheese cake!) See notes below.

1 9″ shortbread crust (see notes)
2 – 8 ozs bars cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream together cream cheese and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well. Add vanilla and sour cream.

Bake for 60 – 70 minutes or until cake jiggles across the top when shaken. Run a knife around the outside edge (plastic knives are really helpful here to not mess up your pans), but leave the cake in the pan. Let cool on counter, then place in the refrigerator. Remove from pan when completely chilled.

Notes: I didn’t use a shortbread crust. I used the graham cracker crust from the Three Cities of Spain cheesecake recipe. And since works for my favorite cheesecake it worked for this one too.

Here are those details:
5 ozs (1 sleeve) graham crackers, ground – or vanilla wafers or animal crackers
5 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt

Mix together and press into bottom of 9 inch springform pan. Easy and good.