Crawfish Cheesecake

When you read 'Crawfish Cheesecake' it's ok if you make a wincing face.  You'll have a totally different reaction when you take your first bite of this creamy crawfish filled, pepper jelly topped party favorite.  When I say ‘party’ I mean the holiday season.  When I say holiday season, well that’s pretty much all year long in New Orleans.  The traditional holiday season is followed by Mardi Gras season, and we then move into Festival season with French Quarter fest and Jazz fest to name a few. In New Orleans, there’s always a reason to make your favorite go-to appetizer. 

It’s that time of year when crawfish are in season so bring on the crawfish boils!  After hosting a crawfish boil, there’s always an overabundance of well-seasoned crawfish, corn, and mushrooms.  Leftover ingredients add a nice pop of flavor to a variety of dishes.  My crawfish cheesecake is a delicious treat that makes great use of your excess crawfish boil ingredients. The creamy blend of spices and crawfish are rich, and worthy of any special occasion. This recipe calls for a large springform pan, but I’ve also prepared it in smaller springform pans and frozen the individual cheesecakes.  The mini versions thaw quickly, and are a great addition to any cheese platter, or served on their own with hearty crackers and pecan halves.  When served in the large version, the cheesecake makes an impressive make-ahead party dish.  Simply served with crackers or crudité for a crowd pleasing spread.

Crawfish Cheesecake

Servings: 10-12

Crust

2 ½ cups crushed butter crackers

½ cup butter, melted

1 egg white, beaten

Filling

2 Tablespoon olive oil

½ cup green onions, sliced

1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced

2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 ½ lbs. cream cheese, softened

½ cup sour cream

3 eggs

¼ teaspoon Tabasco pepper sauce

2 cups crawfish tails, coarsely chopped

½ cup corn kernels, cut off of boiled cob

½ cup mushrooms, coarsely chopped

½ cup pepper jelly

special equipment: 9-inch springform pan

CRUST:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a medium bowl, mix crackers, butter and egg white until well combined. 

3. Press the mixture into the bottom of springform pan.  Bake just until crust is lightly brown, 6-8 minutes. Set aside.

FILLING:

1. Heat olive oil in small skillet over medium heat. Sauté onions and bell peppers until bell peppers are softened, about 5 minutes.  Turn off heat and stir in garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.  Set aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, mix cream cheese, sour cream, eggs and pepper sauce until well blended. Scrape down sides of the bowl.  Fold in bell pepper mixture, crawfish, corn and mushrooms until well combined.  Spread filling over the prepared crust, and bake until firm in the center, 45-50 minutes. 

3. Spread pepper jelly on top of cheesecake.  Bake until jelly is heated and cheesecake is brown around edges, about 20 minutes. Cool cheesecake completely in springform pan on a rack.   Carefully unmold the cheesecake and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Do Ahead: Cheesecake can be made up to 2 days ahead.  Keep refrigerated and serve chilled with crackers and crudité.