Caramelized Pear and Blue Cheesecake with an Almond-Walnut Florentine Crust

In a bold and daring move, I made cheesecake using blue cheese.  This recipe can go savory or sweet, and can be served as small slivers as an appetizer or after dinner bite.  The Almond-Walnut Florentine crust is more like a cookie wafer that is actually quite delicious on its own.  My recommendation is to use a creamy, buttery blue such as Fourme D’Ambert.  The buttery notes from this style of blue cheese mellow out any overbearingly piquant qualities you’d typically find in other styles and the the texture makes it easy to incorporate, which leaves you with a dish that achieves both umami and deep winter fruit flavors.

The cheesecake pairs well with light bodied red wines such as pinot noir or a brighter, fruitier white wine such as Riesling.

Recipe (adapted from the Seattle Times)

Makes 24 small servings

For the crust:
  • 4TB Butter
  • 2/3 cup Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Honey
  • 1/4 cup Cream
  • 3/4 cup Almonds
  • 1/4 cup Chopped Walnuts
  • 1/3 cup Bread Flour
Filling:
  • 1 pound (two 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 8 ounces creamy blue cheese, such as Fourme D’Ambert
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
Pears:
  • 4 fresh, firm pears such as Bosc
  • 1 1/2 cups cabernet sauvignon
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Pinch salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a spring form pan and set aside. Bring the butter and sugar to a boil in a small sauce pan. Whisk the egg and temper it into your butter mixture. Add the toasted nuts and flour to the egg and butter mixture and stir together poor this into the spring form pan and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the Florentine is a light golden brown. Allow the crust to cool and harden completely.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese, blue cheese, flour and sugar. Mix on medium-low until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating and scraping the bowl in between until the eggs are thoroughly incorporated.
  3. Pour the filling into the crust pan and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until the center just barely jiggles when you shake the pan and the top slightly puffs. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours (and up to 2 days) before serving.
  4. To prepare the pears, peel (or don’t peel) the pears, then cut each half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the core.
  5. In a deep sauté pan, combine the wine, vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer and add the pears, core side down. Allow the mixture to simmer until the liquid is syrupy and the pears are caramelized and tender, occasionally basting the pears with the liquid, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate.
  6. When ready to serve, run a knife around the edge of the springform pan to loosen the cheesecake. Remove the sides of the pan. If desired, run a long spatula under the crust and slide the cake onto a serving plate. Top the cheesecake with the caramelized pears.

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