Anyone can mash together shredded and cream cheese and roll it around in dried beef and parsley flakes. But to be the rock star guest at a party, walk through your host’s door carrying a bucket of iced Coronas and a platter full of taco cheesecake.
Don’t crinkle your nose on this one. Taco cheesecake seems odd, I know. We think of cheesecake as being sweet and creamy and on our dessert plate, not as a savory appetizer on our party menu or in our tailgating cooler in the back of a truck.
Think of it this way — you stir together taco seasoning, cream cheese, chili peppers, pepper jack cheese, and roll it in into a cheeseball. So why not add a few more ingredients to make it even creamier, bake it, and then chill before serving with tortilla chips and crackers?
It’s the kind of food you can’t stop thinking about once you start craving it. And you won’t want to tell anyone this, but it is not difficult to make. You don’t even need a special pan.
Taco cheesecake is one of my sister’s favorite cheesecakes. She likes to add chopped black olives. You should also serve it with homemade pico de gallo.
You may want to buy a few more party dresses because your social calendar is about to fill up like a teenager in the cool kid crowd. Especially if you make Key Lime Cheesecake with Patrón Sauce. You will simply be walking the red carpet at that point.
4 teaspoons yellow cornmeal
24 ounces (3, 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1/2 cup taco sauce or salsa
1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning
2 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup (4 ounce chunk) shredded pepper jack cheese
4.5 ounce can chopped green chilies OR 1/4 cup finely diced jalapeno pepper and 1/4 cup finely diced bell pepper
Pico de gallo
Chopped black olives
Lightly spray a 9-inch springform or 9-inch round or square cake pan. (Or, two mini cheesecake pans.) Sprinkle the cornmeal onto the bottom of the pan. Preheat oven to 350˚.
In a large mixing bowl, beat softened cream cheese on medium high until smooth with no lumps. Add the sour cream, taco sauce or salsa, and the taco seasoning. Beat on medium until creamy. Slowly beat in the eggs, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl.
Fold in the pepper jack cheese and green chilies and/or peppers until it is all mixed in with the batter.
Pour the cheesecake filling into the prepared pan. Bake at 350˚ for 30-35 minutes or until the edges are lightly brown and the center looks just set. Cool on a wire rack for one hour. Chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 8 hours before serving. (If using mini cheesecake pans, bake approximately 15 minutes.)
Cut into small slices. Serve with toppings, crackers, crispbreads, tortilla chips, or spread on bagel or bread pieces. Serve cold or at room temperature. The cheesecake is fine to sit out on your party platter for a couple of hours.
Taco cheesecake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in refrigerator overnight.
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