Thursday, December 18, 2008

Baked Cheese Spread

I made this baked cheese spread for our recent holiday party. I was a little concerned about it since I was using a tin Christmas tree shaped pan (available at Wal-Mart for $3) instead of a spring-form pan, but it turned out great. It plopped right out of the pan with little prodding from me. Hallalujah!

1/2 cup Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups pesto, try this recipe
1 pound ricotta cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
4 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Sun-dried tomatoes, julienned

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Lightly grease an 8-inch springform pan (or Christmas Tree pan), then dust the bottom and sides with the bread crumbs. Set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup pesto, ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup sour cream, eggs, salt, lemon zest, nutmeg, and black pepper. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Pour mixture into prepared pan.

NOTE: I did not bake it in a water bath since I was using a different pan. It turned out fine for me. Proceed as you wish.

4. Place springform pan in a water bath and bake in the preheated oven for about 35 minutes, or until just set. Remove pan from the water bath and place on a cooling rack; allow to cool completely. It took longer than 35 minutes for mine to cook, more like 45 minutes. The cheese baked away from the edge though, making it very easy to transfer out of the pan.

5. Cover and refrigerate cheesecake for at least 6 hours or overnight.

6. Run a thin, sharp knife around the edges of the cheesecake to loosen it from the pan, and remove the pan's outer ring.

7. Use the remaining 1 cup pesto to "frost" the sides and top of the cheesecake. Use the sun-dried tomatoes to decorate the tree.

Finished cheesecake can be refrigerated until ready to serve, or served at room temperature. Makes about 24 servings. Serve with crostinis, french bread or hearty crackers.

Bon Appetit!
The Food Whore

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