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I’m a sucker for a cheesecake. Sweet or savory, it doesn’t matter. I love it any way I can get it. When I recently was asked to bring an appetizer to a friend’s house, I immediately thought of cheesecake. It’s elegant, yet super easy.

ImageThe first step in making this classy hors d’oeuvre is to make the sun-dried tomato pesto. Don’t worry. It’s fast and easy. Or you could buy it already made.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

  • 1 5oz jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Place sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and nuts in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until well blended into a paste. Slowly pour the oil through the top while processor is running. Set aside while you prepare the cheesecake base.

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Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Cheesecake

  • 1 Tble butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tble parmesan cheese
  • 2 8oz pkgs cream cheese, softened
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup prepared basil pesto, homemade or store-bought

In a small bowl mix together the panko bread crumbs and 2 Tble of the parmesan cheese. Using a pastry brush or your fingers, spread the softened butter in the bottom and on the sides of a 9 inch springform pan. Sprinkle mixture over buttered pan. Turn to coat.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream cheese, remaining parmesan, salt and cayenne until light. Add eggs, one at a time. Continue beating until mixed well. Pour half of the batter into a medium bowl. Add reserved sun-dried tomato pesto and stir well.

Spread sun-dried pesto mixture into the bottom of prepared pan. Smooth top. Spoon basil pesto on top of sun-dried tomato batter, being careful not to mix the two. Carefully pour the remaining batter on top of the basil pesto. Bake at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until set. Cool completely. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours prior to serving. When ready to serve, remove sides of the springform pan and serve with crackers.

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