Prep 10 mins
Cook 1 hr 35 mins
Adapted from _Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining_ by Braiden Rex-Johnson. Serve as an appetizer with crostini or crackers, or serve as an after-dinner cheese or savory dessert course, drizzled with honey or served with seasonal fruits.
- 1 head garlic, cloves separated
- 1 1⁄2 cups water
- 1⁄2 cup polenta or 1⁄2 cup medium-grind cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon dried basil, crumbled (optional)
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons herbes de provence, crumbled
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1⁄2 lb blue cheese, cut into chunks and at room temperature
- 3 large eggs
- 1⁄4 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
- 1⁄2 cup hazelnuts or 1⁄2 cup pine nuts or 1⁄2 cup almonds, toasted
- crostini (optional) or cracker, for serving (optional)
- Arrange the oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F Remove as much skin as possible from each clove, place in a small baking dish without crowding (a pie plate also works well for this), cover tightly with aluminum foil, and bake until the garlic is very tender and easily squeezed from the skin, 35 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
- Meanwhile, combine the water and cornmeal in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring often, then add the chopped garlic, basil (if using), herbes de Provence, and salt. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until smooth and creamy, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as necessary so the polenta doesn’t overcook or bubble up and splatter, 12 to 15 minutes.
- While the polenta is cooking, place the cream cheese and blue cheese in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs one at a time and mix by hand or beat with an electric mixer until the eggs are thoroughly incorporated. Set aside.
- When the garlic is done, reduce the heat to 325 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9-inch springform pan or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- When the polenta is done, remove it from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Let cool for 5 minutes. With a rubber spatula, press the polenta into the bottom of the prepared springform pan and set aside.
- Pour the reserved cheese filling evenly over the polenta crust. Tap the pan lightly on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Squeeze the garlic cloves from their skins and arrange them around the perimeter of the pan at equal distances. Sprinkle the hazelnuts evenly in the center of the cheesecake.
- Place the cheesecake on a baking sheet to catch any drips, transfer to the oven, and bake for 1 hour, or until the cake springs back when lightly jiggled and the internal temperature on an instant-read thermometer reaches 160 degrees F. Cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour.
- To serve, release and remove the sides of the springform pan. Serve the cheesecake warm or at room temperature, cut into slices as an appetizer or spread onto crostini or crackers for a more rustic look. The cheesecake can be covered and kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 week (its flavors meld and deepen the longer it sits). If serving from the refrigerator, slice and warm it in a 350 degree F oven or microwave briefly before serving.