I make what I call a Pimento Cheesecake. It’s a small, savory cheesecake that tastes like pimento cheese and you eat it with pita chips. It’s kinda awesome. It’s a great thing to have for cocktail parties and is always a big hit. I came up with it after making a simple cream cheese version that I topped with red pepper jelly for a Christmas party. But I’ve been wanting to make a different version utilizing this classic cheese pairing. I’ve always loved the flavors of blue or gorgonzola cheese with a fruit of some sort, dark fruits to be exact…and when you add a balsamic reduction with shallots to the mix-you’ve got yourself a beautiful thing. This is a tad bit more elegant than the Pimento Cheesecake, but both are just plain wonderful.
*Gorgonzola Cheesecake with Balsamic Fig Compote
-In a mixing bowl combine 8 ounces of Neufchatel cream cheese, softened, with about 1/3 lb of gorgonzola cheese (bleu cheese or cambazola are all fine), crumbled, a couple pinches of kosher salt, 1 TB of cornstarch, 1/4 tsp sugar, a good amount of freshly grated nutmeg, the zest of half a lemon, and 1 large egg.
-Beat this with an electric mixer, if you have one, until well combined and almost fluffy.
-Pour this into a well greased small crock or dish of some sort (mine is round, 6 inches wide and 1 1/2 inches deep..a small, spring-form tart pan would also work well). Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 35 minutes.
It will come out looking like this-
A beautiful, puffy pillow of cheesy goodness! You will be so excited and amazed at the height of your masterpiece!
Then you will come back in a minute or two and find this-
–Wah wah. Beauty never lasts… But don’t fret. This is perfectly normal. The sinking actually provides the perfect bowl for your yummy Balsamic Fig Compote (recipe below).
-Allow to cool in the dish until you can handle it with your bare hands. Invert to remove and transfer to a cooling rack if you plan on serving later* or to your serving platter if you’re serving it immediately.
-Pour and spread your compote on top of your cheesecake.
-Serve at room temperature with toasted bagel chips or toast points.
*Balsamic Fig Compote
-In a small saucepan heat 1 TB of unsalted butter with a drizzle of olive oil. When the butter has melted, add 1 large shallot, minced. Season with some kosher salt and 1 tsp sugar. Cook this on low until soft, this can take anywhere from 5-10 min.
-Add 8 dried, mission figs, sliced or chopped (depending on how chunky you want your Compote to be), toss.
-Add 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp of fresh rosemary leaves, minced, 1 TB + 1 tsp of light brown sugar and a couple pinches kosher salt and black pepper. Allow this to reduce on low heat until thick and syrupy.
(*This can me made several days ahead of time. But keep the cheesecake and compote separate. When you’re ready to serve, take out the cheesecake and either let it sit at room temperature for 45 minutes to an hour, or nuke in the microwave for about 20 seconds.)