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Gourmet Cheesecakes

Everyone loves cheesecake, and one of my favorite ways to enjoy it is with a savory recipe that can be cut into appetizer pieces. Whether you savor decadent, sweet cheesecakes, or want to try your hand at something different like Cheesecake Olé, bake one up for your sweetie this month.

SAVORY HERB CHEESECAKE
1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 Tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 lb. ricotta cheese
1 oz. crumbled blue cheese
1-1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and finely chopped
3 Tablespoons slivered almonds
2 Tablespoons fresh chives, snipped

Combine crumbs and butter in a bowl. Press into bottom of lightly greased 8- or 9-inch springform pan. Chill. Combine basil, garlic, and mayonnaise in food processor or blender until smooth. Set aside. Beat together cheeses in a mixing bowl until well-blended. Beat in reserved basil mixture. Spread mixture over crust, pressing and smoothing top. Chill at least 8 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, remove sides of pan and place cake on a platter. Press chopped toasted almonds onto sides of cheesecake, if desired. To garnish top of cheesecake, make a “flower” with slivered almonds and chive stems, if desired. Serve with assorted crackers and toast points. Serves 12.

WHITE CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY CHEESECAKE
1-1/4 cups ground graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 (8-oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
4 squares white baking chocolate, grated
3/4 cup raspberry pie filling
Whole raspberries for garnish

Stir together butter and graham crackers and press firmly into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Beat cream cheese and sugar with mixer and add eggs, one at a time, just until well-blended. Stir in 1/2 of grated white chocolate. Pour over crust. Bake at 350° for 45 to 50 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool completely and refrigerate three hours. Loosen sides of pan and remove. Spread pie filling over top and garnish with remaining half of white chocolate shavings. Serves 10.

CHEESECAKE OLÉ
1 cup finely crushed tortilla chips
3 Tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
2 (8-oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1 packet taco seasoning (divided)
2 eggs
1 pkg. shredded colby/Monterey Jack cheese
1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chilies, drained
1-1/4 cups sour cream

Garnish
1 cup chopped bell pepper
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 cup sliced green onion
1/3 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup pitted ripe olive slices

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix chips and butter in a small bowl and press into 9-inch springform pan. Bake 15 minutes. Beat cream cheese and eggs in large mixing bowl at medium speed until well-blended. Add 1/2 of taco seasoning. Mix in shredded cheese and chilies and pour over crust. Bake for 30 minutes. Mix remaining taco mix with sour cream. Spread sour cream mixture over cheesecake. Bake for 15 more minutes. Cool on a rack. Loosen cake from rim of pan. Refrigerate until ready to serve, at least 30 minutes. Garnish with remaining ingredients just before serving with taco chips. Serves 12.

MARSHMALLOW CRÈME CHEESECAKE
16 whole graham crackers, crushed
4 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup margarine or butter, softened
3/4 lb. marshmallows
3/4 cup whole milk
2 (8-oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1 pint whipping cream

For crust, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and margarine in bowl and mix until combined. Press onto bottom of 13×9-inch pan. For filling, melt marshmallows in milk over low heat. Remove from heat and transfer to large bowl. Add cream cheese and beat until smooth. Set aside to cool. In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat whipping cream until stiff. Gently fold into cooled marshmallow mixture and pour over crust. Refrigerate overnight. Cut into squares. Serves 16-20.

LITE CHEESECAKE
1 cup honey graham crackers, finely crushed
3/4 cup sugar, divided
3 Tablespoons margarine, melted
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 cup fat-free milk
2 (8-oz.) pkgs. fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon grated lemon peel

Mix graham crackers, 1/4 cup sugar, and margarine in small bowl. Press onto bottom and side of 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 350° for five minutes, then cool. Sprinkle gelatin over milk in small saucepan; let stand one minute. Stir over low heat until gelatin is completely dissolved, about three minutes. Cool slightly. Blend cream cheese and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add vanilla and lemon peel. Gradually blend in gelatin mixture on low speed until well-blended. Pour into crust. Refrigerate two to three hours or until firm. Garnish with strawberry slices before serving, if desired. Serves 8.

Coming Next Month:Mexican Recipes

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