Round two, fight!
So...cheesecake? I don't know about you, but for me the word brings up delectable thoughts of creamy goodness. Chocolate, fruit covered or just on its own, cheesecake is an amazing culinary marvel. But apparently some people find it a lousy excuse for a cake. I know more than a few people that really don't like it. Sounds like a challenge indeed. I already knew there were savory cheesecakes, but I've never had one, much less made one.
First, to the research. I dug up several recipes, but ultimately went with Alton Brown's because he's awesome. The problem was, I had had a specific request that it not be fishy. Ok, so fish was out, but I could probably replace those six ounces with just about anything, right? But I didn't have a solid plan. I knew I wanted lots of cheese and some herbs. I started with familiar flavors, things that I use a lot in cooking.
But on a whim, I broke up some left over fresh mozzarella medallions and added them. I am so glad I did! The uniform texture (which is a common complaint I've hear about cheesecake) was broken up by unexpected bubbles of chewy mozzarella. I was nervous at first because it was hard to mix (being mostly cream cheese at the beginning). But fear not, adding the eggs makes it much easier, causing the texture to switch to a more familiar and 'batter-like' consistency. The hardest part was actually waiting for the thing to cook and cool. Six hours? I'm still not sure how we managed to wait it out. But it's worth it. If you have the willpower, I recommend refrigerating it as well. It firms up some and is a lot easier to cut. The flavors also come together more.
The verdict from the test kitchen? Gone. And I had less than half of it (a new record for baked goods). It is very filling, so it can take a while to go through, but it keeps pretty well (but do remember it's dairy). We will definitely be trying another. Apparently soon as I have been strongly suggested to do one for/around Thanksgiving. The current plan for the next one is bacon, mushroom, and peppadew peppers. I would definitely recommend this recipe as a 'starter' that will hopefully inspire you to tailor it to your flavor interests. I hope that if you find a combo you love, you'll share it. :D
Cheesy Cheesecake (Savory)
Original - http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/savory-cheesecake-recipe/index.html
• 24 ounces cream cheese
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1 teaspoon salt
• Pepper to taste (1/8 to 1/4 tsp)
• Garlic powder to taste (1/2 to 1 tsp)
• Onion powder to taste (1/4 to 1/2 tsp)
• 4 ounces sour cream
• 2 large eggs
• 6 oz. shredded Italian blend (white) cheese
• 3 mozzarella medallions, torn up
• 2 Roma tomatoes (optional)
• 3 ounces melted butter
• 1 egg white
• 1 1/2 cups crackers (1 cup Ritz, 1/2 cup Club), crushed
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, egg white, and the cracker crumbs. Press them into the bottom of a 10-inch spring form pan. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Reduce the heat to 250 degrees F.
With an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, blend the cream cheese, cornstarch, salt, and sour cream. Once combined, add the eggs. Fold in shredded cheese and mozzarella. Pour the batter over the cooled crust. Top with sliced tomato if desired. Bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and leave the cake in the oven for an additional hour without opening the door. Cool on a rack for at least 4 hours. Carefully unmold. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.