– by Helen Austin –
Spring is here, and you know what’s in the forecast. If you have anything of a reputation for entertaining, you can count on being asked to help host a bridal shower, graduation party, even a small wedding reception!
The days when you could get away with little one-bite sandwiches and pastel mints for such occasions are long gone. Party food has morphed into something much more substantial, like savory cheesecakes.
Cheesecake: It’s not just for dessert any more. I’ve made cheesecakes with smoked salmon and with blue cheese. But Mexican Cheesecake is by far the most popular I’ve ever offered.
Some years ago, I shared this recipe with a friend who took it to a potluck. After that, she almost couldn’t leave home without it. It seems every invitation she received included “her” Mexican Cheesecake. I think she memorized the recipe.
I haven’t made this cheesecake nearly as often as my friend, but I do have some tips for success to share with you.
1) Don’t take the shortcut of buying packaged, pre-shredded cheese. It contains a stabilizer which resists being incorporated with other ingredients. Trust me; I’ve learned this the hard way.
2) DO NOT USE NONFAT DAIRY PRODUCTS IN THIS RECIPE. Like pre-shredded cheese, they resist incorporation. REDUCED FAT PRODUCTS ARE FINE. In fact, the “light” Neufchatel cream cheese is preferable to regular cream cheese, because it doesn’t have to sit out of the refrigerator as long to soften.
3) If you don’t own a springform pan, you can get a good one at an off-price store (mine came from T.J. Maxx).
One 10-ounce package Cheddar or Jack cheese, shredded (see No. 1 above)
1 cup (8 ounces) cottage cheese
Three 8-ounce packages cream cheese (or Neufchatel), softened
One 4-ounce can chopped green chiles
16 ounces sour cream (optional for topping)
1-2 tablespoons juice from a jar of jalapeno peppers (optional for topping)
Cayenne pepper, chopped green onions, green or black olive slices, etc. (optional for garnish)
Shred cheese in food processor (use grater attachment if you have one). Remove to a separate bowl, add cottage cheese to food processor and process until smooth. Combine with cream cheese in electric mixer and mix until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Combine reserved shredded cheese and green chiles with cream cheese mixture. Pour into 8-or 9-inch springform pan and bake in preheated 325-degree oven one hour. (I set the pan on a baking sheet for convenience and in case of leaks.)
If using topping, combine sour cream with jalapeno pepper juice and spread over cheesecake. Bake an additional 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and carefully loosen rim of pan. (DON’T PANIC if cheesecake cracks at edges. You can smooth it out after it cools!) Allow cheesecake to cool thoroughly, then remove rim of pan and refrigerate.
Remove cheesecake from refrigerator about an hour before serving time and place on serving plate WITHOUT REMOVING FROM BASE. Garnish as desired. Spread on snack crackers to serve.
© Helen Austin. All rights reserved.
Would you like some creative ideas listed by month that can help you connect with your kids or grandkids? Check out The Grandparent Connection: 365 Ways to Connect With Your Grandchild’s Heart by Nancy Downing and Mary May Larmoyeux.