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Mini Savory Cheesecakes Recipe topped with Pepper Jelly

Well have I got a great game day treat for you this week – a mini savory cheesecake recipe.  Best of all, these little darlings are topped with a dollop of pepper jelly. I hope you’re hungry!

I originally devised this recipe about a month ago prior to the first presidential debate. My friend Andrew was having people over to watch the debate, and I wanted to bring a dish that was tasty yet not too heavy.  I had some cream cheese in the fridge and a jar of pepper jelly, and thus these savory delights were born!

Mini savory cheesecakes topped with pepper jelly

Overall this recipe is very easy to make.  And it delivers big in the flavor department.  Also, it’s one of those dishes that seems like it took a lot more work than it actually did so it makes you look like a bona fide chef when you show up with these at a party. Which is always a win. That’s why I’m here – to help make you look good in whatever small way I can contribute to your already obvious fabulousness!!

Let’s take a look at the ingredients and techniques we’re working with here, and then we’ll move along to the recipe.

This recipe is very basic in terms of the number of ingredients needed.  The bulk of the filling is made from Neuchâtel cheese and sour cream. Neuchâtel is very similar to cream cheese and is found right next to cream cheese in your grocer’s dairy case. It’s a little softer than cream cheese and to me has a little more of a “savory” flavor to it, which is why I like to use it in savory cheesecakes.  It also has a lower fat content, but that’s not why I use it.  You know me, I love full-fat dairy products!

Neufchatel Cheese Filling

The seasonings in the cheesecake batter are my standard seasoning spices – kosher salt, garlic powder, onion powder, celery salt and green onion.  If you happen to taste the cheesecake batter before baking, you will notice that it is highly seasoned.  It might seem over-seasoned.  Don’t fear – it’s not.  During the baking process, the salt and seasoning levels chill out a bit, and the finished product is perfectly seasoned. Also, if you do try the batter, make sure you try it prior to adding the egg.  We don’t want anyone contracting salmonella!

Neufchatel Cheese filling, adding green onions

The base for this savory cheesecake is a mini phyllo dough cup. Phyllo is very thin, paper-like unleavened pastry dough that’s usually layered to form a crispy shell for fillings.  It’s the famous shell for both baklava and spanakopita. While phyllo can be made at home, it is much more convenient to just buy the pre-made shells.  Athens brand makes a great version and that’s what I’ve used in this recipe.  You can find them in the freezer section at the grocery store next to the pie crusts.

Phyllo dough shells with savory cheesecake filling

Interestingly, while doing research on phyllo dough, I learned that it is thought to have originated in Topkapı Palace in Istanbul.  When Jeremy and I went to Istanbul a couple of years ago, we had a great time roaming through the park next to the palace. It houses lovely large trees and a beautiful rose garden.  Istanbul is such a lovely place.

Baked mini savory cheesecakes

Back to cheesecakes…. And pepper jelly.  Ah, really this is the pièce de résistance of this recipe.  It truly makes the dish.  While we start with a crispy phyllo base then fill that with a creamy savory cheesecake filling, it’s really the pepper jelly topping at the end that makes it complete.  While I know it’s not restricted to the South, pepper jelly is a most beloved item down here.  We eat it on crackers with cream cheese, use it in dressings, and sometimes we even just top our toast with it!

Topping the mini cheesecakes with pepper jelly

A good pepper jelly is spicy and sweet all at the same time.  Most of the best pepper jellies I’ve had have been homemade.  Not by me, sadly, but by other great home cooks! Tabasco does make a good one if you’re looking at the grocery store.  But mainly, if you can get your hands on some homemade pepper jelly, that’s the best bet.  I have some dried, ground peppers from my dad and want to make some pepper jelly real soon. Perhaps Christmas gifts?? We’ll see how motivated I can be.

One thing I do need to point out here before we wrap up is that these don’t store extremely well.  After a few hours, the shells are no longer as crisp as they were right out of the oven. Of course, they are still perfectly edible. But if you’re making these for a party, I suggest baking them the afternoon of the party, leaving them at room temperature, and waiting to top with pepper jelly until the last minute.  Also, as soon as you refrigerate these, the phyllo will lose some of its crisp.  It will still taste good but won’t be as crunchy.

Platter of mini savory cheesecakes topped with pepper jelly

So now that your head is swimming with thoughts of delightful savory mini cheesecakes, on to the recipe.

Yield: 30 mini cheesecakes

Mini Savory Cheesecakes Recipe topped with Pepper Jelly

This mini savory cheesecake recipe uses mini phyllo cups as the crust and a delicious Neufchâtel cheese filling. Topped with sweet and spicy pepper jelly for a kick!

Ingredients:

  • 1-8 ounce block Neufchatel cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
  • 1 large egg
  • 30 mini phyllo shells (2 packages)
  • 1/2 cup pepper jelly

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 ºF.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the Neufchatel, sour cream, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, celery salt and green onion. Cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides as needed to ensure the mixture is throughly mixed.
  3. Add the egg and mix on medium just until mixed.
  4. Next lay out the fillo shells on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat.
  5. After the shells are laid out, transfer the filling from the mixing bowl to a pastry big fitted with a star tip.
  6. Pipe filling into each of the pastry shells.
  7. Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, shut the oven off and allow the cheesecakes to cool in the oven for one hour.
  8. Once cooled, remove the mini cheesecakes from the oven and top each with a little dollop of pepper jelly.

Total time includes the hour it takes for the cheesecakes to cool in the oven.

Prep:15 min

Cook:30 min

Total:1 hour 45 min

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