Sunday, August 28, 2011

Savory Pesto Appetizer Cheesecakes

1/4 c dry bread crumbs
2 TBS freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 - 8 oz package Neufchatel (or light cream cheese)
1/2 c ricotta cheese
3/4 c shredded 5 cheese Italian blend
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
1 large egg

prepared pesto sauce*

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In small bowl, combine breadcrumbs with Parmesan. Spray 6 4-inch tarlet pans with non-stick cooking spray. Divide crumb mixture among pans & shake to evenly coat bottoms.

Using an electric mixer, beat Neufchatel, ricotta, 5-cheese blend & pepper in a large bowl until light. Add egg, beating until well blended. Gently spoon into prepared pans, smoothing evenly. Drop 3 teaspoons of pesto onto batter; swirl through the batter with the tip of a knife to create a marbled effect.

Place tartlet pans on a baking sheet & place in preheated oven.

Bake until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out with just a bit of cheesecake on it, about 20 minutes. (Be careful not to over-bake it until it tests clean.) Transfer to rack and cool completely. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Gently remove cheesecakes from pan (flip onto small plate, then invert back onto serving plate).

Serve with sliced baguette or flatbread crisps.

*I used Traditional Basil pesto in 3 cheesecakes & Fire-roasted Tomato pesto in the other 3 for variety.