Perfectly Pesto Cheesecake
This appetizer is an impressive and delicious centerpiece, and has made many appearances at cocktail parties I’ve hosted over the last 20+ years. The recipe is from the Junior League of Seattle cookbook “Simply Classic.”
- 1 Tbsp butter or margarine, softened
- 1/4 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
- 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 8oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp cayenne
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup pesto sauce
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
Preheat oven to 325°.
Rub butter or margarine over bottom and sides of a 9-inch diameter springform pan. Mix bread crumbs with 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan. Coat pan with crumb mixture.
Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, ricotta, Parmesan, salt and cayenne until light and well blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Transfer half the mixture to a medium bowl. Mix pesto into remaining half. Pour pesto mixture into prepared pan, smooth top. Carefully smooth plain cheese mixture over pesto mixture. Gently smooth top. Sprinkle with pine nuts.
Bake cheesecake until center no longer moves when pan is shaken, about 45 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool completely. Run a small knife around sides of pan to loosen cheesecake. Release pan sides from cheesecake. Transfer to platter, garnish with fresh basil sprigs, surround with crackers and serve.