This weekend I discovered a beautiful thing. It was a thing that at first sounded unlikely, but then a world of possibility opened up and there it was…
The crabmeat cheesecake.
But cheesecake is supposed to be a sweet thing, I hear you say.
Wrong my friends. It can be so much more.
Last week I offered to host a friend’s birthday party. We planned to eat food, play board games, and enjoy a few cocktails. Since I had not had the opportunity to make the amazing Gumbo Ya Ya from Mr. B’s bistro this year, I thought it might be perfect for this event, as I would have extra stirrers around to help.
Continuing with the new Orleans theme, my good friend and coplanner for this evening found this recipe.
As a group, the attendees of this party are more savory people than sweet, and she knew her boyfriend, the birthday boy, would be more interested in a great appetizer than a cake at the end. So, she made this crab cheesecake, we lit candles on it, and it was served before the gumbo.
This recipe is killer. It is a win. It is a keeper.
The cheesecake itself is decadent. It is a crab dip that is so creamy that it melts on your tongue, in a crust that is salty and nutty, but it is firm, like a cheesecake. Then the sauce. Oh my, the sauce. The sauce is basically butter and hot sauce with some sautéed mushrooms, drizzled over the top. It is spicy and creamy and absolutely decadent.
There have got to be some occasions to make this again in the new year.
However, this is an epic undertaking. A multi-hour process. But, if you are so inclined and have a special occasion, it is totally worth it.
Palace Cafe Crabmeat Cheesecake
2 cups pecans
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons fine salt
5 tablespoons butter, cold
3 tablespoons ice water
1 cup diced onion
1 tablespoon butter
4 ounces crabmeat
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup Creole cream cheese or sour cream
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce (recommended: Crystal brand hot sauce)
Kosher salt and white pepper
1 lemon, peeled and quartered
1 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup hot pepper sauce
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 pound butter, cold, cut into small cubes, and divided
Kosher salt and white pepper
2 cups sliced mixed wild mushrooms
3 tablespoons butter, softened
24 crab claw fingers
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
Preparing the Pecan Crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Finely grind pecans in a food processor. Add flour and salt. Mix well. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and cut in butter, working butter into flour with 2 knives until dough is in crumbs the size of small peas. Add ice water and evenly incorporate into the mixture, which should remain fairly crumbly. Roll out dough to a 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Press dough into a lightly greased 9-inch tart pan, starting with the sides and then the bottom. Bake crust for 20 minutes, or until golden.
Note: Dough can be made ahead of time. If doing so, wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Allow dough to come to room temperature before rolling out.
Preparing the Filling:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
In a skillet, saute onion in butter until translucent. Add crabmeat and cook just until heated through, then remove from heat. Blend cream cheese until smooth in a mixer fitted with a paddle, or by hand using a wooden spoon. Add Creole cream cheese and mix well. Mix in eggs 1 at a time. Gently fold in the crabmeat mixture. Stir in hot sauce and season, to taste, with salt and white pepper. Spoon filling into prepared crust. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until firm to the touch.
Preparing the Meuniere Sauce and Garnish:
Combine lemon, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce in a heavy saucepot. Reduce over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk until mixture becomes thick and syrupy. Whisk in heavy whipping cream. Reduce heat to low and slowly blend in butter, 1 cube at a time, adding additional butter only after each cube has been completely incorporated into the sauce. This process is called “mounting the butter.” Remove from heat and continue to stir. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Strain through a fine strainer and keep warm.
Saute mushrooms in 2 tablespoons butter until tender and all moisture has cooked off. Excess water from the mushrooms may break your sauce if it isn’t cooked off. Stir mushrooms into Meuniere sauce. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a saute pan and warm crab fingers over low heat. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Slice cheesecake and top each piece with warm Meuniere sauce and 3 crab claws.