toodie jane won the grand prize in a cheesecake contest for her savory recipe with a little chile zing. It’s superrich, so it will serve 12 to 16 as an appetizer.
For the crust:
2 cups day-old whole-grain cornbread cubes
3/4 cup whole-grain corn chips (not tortilla chips)
2 tablespoons ground roasted cumin seeds
2 to 3 tablespoons melted butter
For the filling:
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese (1 pound)
1/3 pint mascarpone cheese
1 cup chopped onion, sautéed in butter until soft
1 cup shredded aged white cheddar
1/2 cup grated mixture of Parmesan and Romano cheeses
3/4 cup minced dry-smoked salmon
1 tablespoon adobo sauce from canned chipotle chiles in adobo, or more to taste
A few drops liquid hickory smoke flavoring
For the topping:
3/4 cup sour cream
For the garnish:
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon dry white wine
2 teaspoons adobo sauce from canned chipotle chiles in adobo
Have all ingredients at room temperature. Have ready a roasting pan large and deep enough to accommodate a springform pan. Heat oven to 375°F.
For the crust:
Grind cornbread, corn chips, and cumin in a food processor until they are in crumbs. Add enough butter to moisten the crumbs. Wrap the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, and press crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until firm, then cool. Reduce oven heat to 350°F.
For the cheesecake:
Heat 2 quarts of water to a simmer. Beat together the cream cheese, mascarpone, eggs, onion, and remaining cheeses thoroughly. Spread half the mixture in prepared crust. Add smoked salmon, adobo sauce, and liquid smoke to remaining filling mixture; beat until smooth, then pour over the first half of the filling in the pan.
Whisk together topping ingredients and set aside. Set the springform pan in the roasting pan and place in the oven, then pour simmering water around the springform pan to 1-inch depth.
Bake until edges begin to set, around 50 minutes. Quickly pour sour cream mixture over the top of cheesecake and bake for another 10 minutes. Turn the oven off, set its door ajar, and leave cheesecake in the oven for 1 hour to cool slowly, then chill.
Slice while cold with a damp knife, wiping between each slice, but bring cheesecake to room temperature before serving. Whisk together garnish ingredients, and drizzle over slices to serve.