‘Tis the season! I love everything the holidays has to offer—the sights, sounds, smells, and food combine with the joy, hope and love and make the season magical. But, let’s be real. All that joy creates a crazy, busy schedule. Yet no one wants to miss a holiday party or chance to catch up with old friends for the lack of an easy to prepare, fantastic appetizer.
This is one of my family’s favorite appetizers. This Southwest Appetizer Cheesecake is so easy, for you bake it in the slow cooker. (The moist even heat is ideal for a cheesecake.) The 7-inch size makes it just right for any party or gift. The creamy goodness and hint of jalapeno complements any menu yet hints at Mexican without overpowering. Accompany it with tortilla chips and set out a small spreader and let the feast begin.
Do you have a 7-inch springform pan? If you do, you are well on your way to appetizer success. Yes, it is the same size pan we use for the new, luscious cheesecake or carrot cake mixes. (And we sell the pan and mix here.) If you give a gift of the mix and pan to a friend, you can always direct them back to our site for this (and future) recipe(s) for the pan. Another wonderful gift for anyone is to make a cheesecake, carrot cake or this appetizer cheesecake, and tie them in a cellophane for a show stopping, yet easy-to-give gift that is always perfectly sized.
I love the make-ahead convenience, especially this time of year. Bake it the day before so it is ready to serve when the party begins.
While we have made it for many years, it is as timely and trendy today as it was years ago. When my daughters were young, they loved to garnish it to fit the season or holiday—salsa, chopped red tomatoes and chopped red or green peppers for Christmas are perfect. Today, it is still a favorite, but we often accompany it with margaritas. Oh, how life marches on! Enjoy!
Southwest Appetizer Cheesecake
3/4 cup tortilla chip crumbs
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 tablespoon finely chopped, drained pickled jalapeno peppers, or to taste
2/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
Shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes, salsa, sliced green onions or other favorite toppings
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 7-inch springform pan with nonstick spray.
Crumple a sheet of aluminum foil, about 18 to 24 inches long into a strip, then shape into a 7-inch spring. Place the ring in a large slow cooker (5 to 7 quarts, round or oval.)
Combine tortilla chip crumbs and melted butter. Pour crumbs into the prepared 7-inch springform pan. Press crumbs evenly to cover the bottom of the pan. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool.
In a medium mixing bowl, using an electric mixer at medium high speed, beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Beat in egg. Beat in cream, Monterey Jack cheese and jalapenos. Blend until smooth. Spoon into prepared crust. Place the filled pan on the aluminum foil ring in the slow cooker. Cover and bake on High for 2 hours or until softly set.
Turn the slow cooker off. Spoon the sour cream gently over the top of the cheesecake. Cover the slow cooker and let the cheesecake and slow cooker cool together for an hour or so. Remove cheesecake from slow cooker and cool completely. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Gently run a table knife around the outside edges of the cheesecake. Remove the sides of the springform pan. Garnish the cheesecake as desired with salsa, cheese or tomatoes. Serve with chips.
Makes 1 (7-inch) appetizer cheesecake
Tip: Of course, you can bake it in the oven instead of the slow cooker. Bake the crust as directed. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Prepare the cheesecake filling as directed, spoon into baked crust. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and spoon sour cream evenly over crust. Allow to cool completely. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.