Saturday, August 05, 2006

hot pepper jelly cheesecake

Stephanie over at The Happy Sorceress has invited us to a blog party! And since it's been so scorchingly hot pretty much nationwide, including up here in the normally frozen north, she's encouraging us to share our party appetizers that don't require any cooking. Now, I'm somewhat cooking deprived these days and would gladly have fired up the oven (and the air conditioner, if necessary) in response to such a pleasant party invitation. But it also took me no time at all ... from zero to decision in less than 60 seconds ... to decide what to make for this blog party. My delicious, spicy-sweet, incredible mouth-feel hot pepper jelly cheesecake, the hit of every party I've taken it to so far.

Now, calling it a cheesecake is something of a misnomer, because cheesecakes are baked and this is not. But it's prepared in a springform pan and contains cream cheese, so we're going to cut some slack here. Parties are not for nitpicking, it spoils the spirit of the thing, n'est pas?

I took this as a surprise extra to a potluck for 9 the other night, and the enthusiastic response was balm to my soul. Every baguette slice and every endive leaf was dipped and consumed, and then we went on a cracker hunt. In the end, a tiny bit was left on the plate and we moved on to a delicious dinner of tandoori chicken with cucumber and mango relish, local sweet corn on the cob, spicy sesame noodles, my spinach salad with gorgonzola and sugared walnuts, and a gorgeous blueberry pie with fresh-picked blueberries, a la mode. It's safe to say a good time was had by all!

Hot Pepper Jelly Cheesecake

1/4 c. pine nuts (I substituted pistachios)
8 oz cream cheese (neufchatel ok, but it makes a softer "cake"
1 c. hot pepper jelly, preferably red (I used Catamount Specialties chipotle)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
5 oz sharp Cheddar, grated (about 1 1/4 c); you can substitute Monterey Jack or even mozzarella

sliced bread, crackers, or Belgian endive cups

PREP

  1. Soften cream cheese
  2. Mince garlic
  3. Preheat oven to 325 F
  4. Chop cilantro
  5. Grate the Cheddar

FINISH

  1. Place the pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the 325 oven until golden, about 8 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Place the cream cheese, 1/2 cup of the jelly, garlic, cilantro and Cheddar in a food processor. Process until evenly blended.
  3. Line the bottom of a 7-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Spray the sides of the pan with nonstick spray.
  4. Add the cheese mixture. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  5. Spread the remaining jelly evenly across the top surface and sprinkle the pine nuts on top. The recipe can be completed to this point up to 24 hours before serving.
  6. To serve, carefully remove the sides of the pan. Transfer the cheesecake to a serving plate. Serve chilled, with bread, crackers and/or endive cups.

3 comments:

Stephanie said...

Pat, this fantastic! And exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for.

You were first; yay!

As for your 'prize', you'll be the first guest introduced at the party, how's that?

Thanks for joining in...I do love early!

Kalyn said...

Sounds wonderful.

Foodie's Hope said...

I like cream cheese and I like my food spicy ! What could be better for me than your recipe??

I am in heaven !!

Thank you !