Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Roasted red pepper cheese cake

This is not an ordinary cheese cake. It makes the best appetizer with its creamy cheese texture and the flavor of roasted red peppers and basil.
2 baguettes
Olive oil, for brushing
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (15-ounce container) whole milk ricotta cheese
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
4 ounces goat cheese (about 1/2 cup)
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup diced roasted red bell peppers
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup pesto with pine nuts
1 tablespoon hot water

Special equipment: 1 (8-inch) diameter springform (cheesecake) pan

Food processor

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. To make the crostini, cut the baguettes into 1/4-inch thick slices. Using a pastry brush, brush the baguette slices with olive oil. Place on 2 foil-lined baking sheets and bake until crisp and golden, about 12 to 15 minutes. Reserve 25 of the crostini slices for the cheesecake. Cool the remaining crostini, then store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

To make the cheesecake crust, put the 25 crostini slices in a food processor and run the machine until crostini are like bread crumbs, about 1 minute. Add the melted butter and pulse a few times to combine. Press the bread crumbs into the bottom of the cheesecake pan. Bake until golden, about 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

A food processor or mixer can be used to mix the cheeses together. 

To make the cheesecake, wrap the outside of the cheesecake pan with 2 layers of heavy-duty foil. Place the ricotta, cream cheese, and goat cheese in a food processor. Pulse to mix. Add the eggs, sugar, and salt and pulse a few times until well mixed. Using a rubber spatula, stir in chopped red pepper, basil, and thyme. pulse three times. Pour the cheese mixture into the cheesecake pan. Place the cheesecake pan in a roasting pan. Pour enough hot water in the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is golden at the edges and the center of the cake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour at 350 degrees.  (the cake will become firm when it is cold.) Transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool for 1 hour. Refrigerate until the cheesecake is cold, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.

To serve, there are two options. first: you can serve pesto with pine nuts on the side or spread on top of the cheese cake. Second option: take your 1/2 cup of your favorite jam flavor and combine it with 2 tablespoons of water with one tablespoon of sugar. heat in a small bowl and stir until the jam is liquefied.

Once the cheesecake is removed from the pan, place on a serving plate and spread the pesto on top or drizzle the jam mixture over the top of the cheesecake, encouraging some of the jam to run down the sides. Serve with the reserved crostini alongside.

In this recipe

I decided to see how the crust would come out using Marie Callenders seasoned croutons. It was perfect. For a short cut you can use 1/2 bag of seasoned croutons instead of making your own crostinis.My spring pan broke so I had to resort to using a cake pan lined in aluminum foil. I have to say…. I like it better. Even though I wrap two layers of aluminum foil around the spring pan, I am still afraid water will get in. There was on worry and very easy to remove cheese cake from pan.

Italian bread crumbs can be used in place of croutons. 


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