Even cheesecake. Yes, you read that correctly. Cheesecake. The rich, creamy dessert typically reserved for special occasions. I went ahead and made one with bacon. And no, this wasn’t one of those chocolate bacon or maple bacon combos that seem trendy now. We’re talking about a classic bacon combo – the BLT.
Yup. Not only was there bacon in my cheesecake, there was tomato and lettuce. Feel free to be weirded out by this. Andy was. Bacon in cheesecake was just not right, he said. Cheesecake is dessert. Bacon is not. I had a feeling that he would feel that way about this particular dish, so I put the recipe aside for one of those occasions where it wouldn’t matter if he was interested in it or not. So when my friend Bethany decided to have a girls appetizer night I knew exactly what I would make. (Okay, so there were several other possibilities, but I went for this one since I didn’t know when I’d get to try it again.) Turns out, all the girls loved it! And when I took the leftovers to work the next day, most of my coworkers liked it too! And Arron, Karen’s husband, even said, “You combined two of my favorite things – cheesecake and bacon. The result was awesomeness.”
I made a few changes to the recipe, based on my personal preferences and how I wanted to serve the cheesecake. Because I wanted to serve this with crackers, I eliminated the crust and used Erin’s parchment-paper-lined-pan technique when I baked the cheesecake. I also reduced the amount of Gruyere cheese because I was concerned that the flavor would be overpowering. Finally, I substituted a sun-dried tomato spread for the chopped sun-dried tomatoes.
The end result was a smooth, creamy, savory cheesecake with a wonderful bacon smokiness. Topped with lettuce and fresh tomatoes from our garden and served with crackers, it was an addicting appetizer!
For the cheesecake:
32 ounces (4 8 ounce bricks) of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 cups bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled into pieces
scant 3/4 cup of shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese, shredded (about 2 ounces)
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato paste
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 eggs, lightly beaten
For toppings and serving:
cooked bacon, crumbled
lettuce leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces
fresh tomatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
scallions, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 325. Line the bottom of a 9″ springform pan with a round of parchment paper. (Here’s something to consider – I see that the magazine recommends greasing the springform pan. I did not do this step. However, if you add a crust to this, that might be a good idea. Your call.) Wrap the springform pan with a large square of aluminum foil, double-wrapping if necessary. (You’re going to bake the cheesecake in a water bath, so wrap the pan tightly and make sure the seams are above the water level.)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add in the cream and mix until combined. Mix in the cheese, bacon, tomato spread, scallions and pepper. Beat until combined. (Feel free to taste the mixture and add more bacon or tomato spread if you feel it needs “more.”) Add the eggs and beat on low until just combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and place the springform in a large baking pan (I use my roasting pan for this, and yes, it’s a water bath way more often than it’s a roaster. But I digress…) Pour boiling water into the large pan until it comes up about an inch on the side of the springform.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until the center is set and the top appears dull (mine took 55 minutes). Remove the springform pan from the water bath and peel off the foil. Allow cheesecake to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then run a knife along the edge of the cheesecake. Cool to room temperature, then place the cheesecake in the fridge and let it cool overnight.
Before serving, remove the ring from the pan. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the cheesecake and then flip the cheesecake out onto the counter (so the bottom of the cheesecake and the metal base are face up). Using a large knife, separate the metal bottom from the cheesecake and then peel off the parchment paper. Meanwhile, have a large serving plate ready. (I garnished mine with large lettuce leaves.) With your hands under the plastic wrap, carry the cheesecake to the serving platter and flip it over so the top is now right-side up. Top the cheesecake with the reserved bacon, lettuce, tomatoes and scallions. Serve with crackers.
Adapted from Taste of Home, April/May 2012 (note: as of 7/29/12, you need to be a Taste of Home subscriber to access the full recipe online)