One of our favorite brunch recipes, taken directly from Southern Living’s “Five-Star recipe Collection” is this savory cheesecake, so when The Rocket Scientist enjoyed a well-earned day off, we knew it was time to make it again. We normally make it with just turkey bacon (since she doesn’t eat red meat), but we decided to try a variation on the theme. Instead of making one larger cheesecake, we decided to try making two, individual ones (thereby freeing me to indulge in the pork).
To make the smaller, individual ones, we cut the recipe in half, meaning that we’d each be eating quarter portions, still more than sufficient for a nice brunch. I’ll be listing the full recipe and making notes about the differences below. The major one is in the big recipe, we use one 9-inch Springform pan.
- 10 ounce package frozen spinach, thawed
- 1 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/3 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
- ½ cup whipping cream
- ¾ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 3 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup (4 ounces) smoked gouda, shredded
- 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- ½ pound fresh mushrooms, chopped
- ¼ cup green onions, chopped
- 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Prep ingredients
- Make and blind bake crusts
- Divide cream cheese mixture
- Add bacon and gouda to one half, spinach to
- Layer mixtures into crusts:
- spinach-cream cheese
- bacon-cream cheese
I’m actually writing this up live, pausing to take the occasional picture, as Gretchyn is doing the cooking parts. Together, we’ve already done all the prep—chopping the onions and mushrooms, shredding the cheese, cooking and crumbling the bacon, thawing and draining the spinach (why is it there seems to be an infinite supply of water in the spinach?) and laid it out for easy access.
She’s just finished making the crusts and putting them in the oven. She combined the breadcrumbs, the parm, and the cayenne, then made a little well out of it, then added ¼ cup plus two tablespoons of butter. After mixing it all together, she pressed the mixture into the small Springform pans, using an Old Fashioned glass to evenly and firmly press the crumb mixture into the pans. Blind baking refers to cooking the crust without the ingredients. These went into a 350F oven for ten minutes.
With those baking, she’s now just finished sautéing together the mushrooms and onions in 2 more tablespoons of butter, just until they gave up their liquid, and is about to make the filling. She’s going to combine the softened cream cheese, whipping cream, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of smoked paprika in the stand mixer, beating it at a medium speed until smooth. She’s starting with the cream cheese alone, making it a little smoother, then adding the whipping cream so that chunks of cream cheese don’t splash out the cream.
She’s scraping down the sides occasionally, making sure everything gets mixed in. She’s now adding the eggs, one at a time, beating at a low speed.
That done, she’s now dividing the cream cheese mixture in half, adding the gouda and bacon to one and the spinach to the other, blending them well together. The first layer she’s putting on each is the spinach, followed by the mushroom and onions, and the
bacon. Since we’re doing separate ones and we’re using two different kinds of bacon, she’s dividing the gouda-cream cheese mix further in half, then adding the particular bacon.
There’s a slight pause to the activity as she slops some of the mixture over the side of the Springform pan—twice—and has to clean them off before proceeding.
She’s just finished layering in the last of the ingredients and put them into a 325F oven for 45 minutes, so thus ends the live portion of our program. We’ll actually check them at the 40 minute point, since the smaller pans might cook a little faster than the larger one would.
They were indeed done at the 40 minute mark, so we turned off the oven, cracked the door, and let them sit for most of an hour, then took them out and let them cool to room temperature before enjoying them.
Enjoy them we did. The texture was just right, a balanced lusciousness of the cream cheese and texture provided by the eggs. Interestingly, the layers stayed more discreet in the turkey bacon version, where they blended together in the regular bacon version.
We sliced a bit of avocado to go on the side, which was perfectly ripe—although with the dish, I think I would have preferred it to have been a little over-ripe. Avocados that are a little past their peak ripeness take on an earthiness that I think might have gone very nicely, especially with the mushroom and onions.
It was a late lunch, so we opened a bottle of 2008 Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Riesling Eroica. The very slight sweetness of the Riesling made a wonderful contrast with
the spiciness imparted by the cayenne.
As is, this is an enjoyable dish, one that we’re happy to serve to company. It also seems like it would lend itself to a great deal of experimentation. There are any number of variations on the savory cheesecake platform that we’re simply going to have to try.