Grilled Cheesecake Sandwiches
Grilled Cheese Palooza
Happy New Year pie lovers! I hope you had a fun holiday weekend filled with good food — I sure did. On New Year’s Day, I celebrated Festivus with my friends and in lieu of pie made my traditional, and insane Chocolate Festivus Cake. It takes me a couple days to make, and borders on Capownie in it’s complexity — I’m going to do you a favor and preserve your sanity by not detailing it here. Instead I’ll give you my New Year’s gift of a fabulous party idea along with a fabulously indulgent and unique dessert.
A couple of months ago I ran into this on Cakespy.com. Grilled cheesecake sandwiches?! How awesome is that! It was kismet in that I’d been jonesing to have a grilled cheese party, and this seemed to seal the deal with the perfect dessert. What is a grilled cheese party? Well, it’s more than just some white bread and cheddar slices. C’mon, this is the Summerofpie.com, we don’t do ordinary.
Actually, it’s a fairly easy party to host in many ways as the guests do a lot of the cooking and can bring a lot of the food. Basically, what you want is to have a variety of breads, cheeses (including cheese spreads, and cream cheese), toppings (think hummus, or chutney, or olive tapanade), veg (tomatoes, caramelized onions, spinach), meats (pulled pork or chicken, salami, bacon), and sauces (bbq, mustards, hot sauce, curry sauce) — you get the idea, pretty much everything but the kitchen sink. Put it all out on a table, round up a bunch of panini press style grills from your friends (like the George Foreman grill), and tell everyone to get creative and go to town. It was enormous fun seeing how inventive everyone got with their sandwiches, and I think the average person made at least two or three before the night was over. Finding myself in possession of a deep fryer, I couldn’t resist dipping a grilled cheese sandwich in beer batter and deep frying it — it worked fantastically.
Oh, and with this for dessert? Couldn’t have been more perfect.
GRILLED CHEESECAKE SANDWICHES
(from Epicurious.com “Elvis Presley’s Favorite Pound Cake”)
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for buttering pan
3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring) plus additional for dusting
3/4 tsp salt
3 cups sugar
7 large eggs, at room temperature 30 minutes
3 tsp vanilla
1 cup heavy cream
Special equipment: a mini loaf pan (such as this)
Put oven rack in middle position, but do not preheat oven.
Generously butter pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess flour. Sift together sifted flour (3 cups) and salt into a bowl. Repeat sifting into another bowl (flour will have been sifted 3 times total).
Beat together butter (2 sticks) and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes in a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or 6 to 8 minutes with a handheld mixer. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add half of flour, then all of cream, then remaining flour, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down side of bowl, then beat at medium-high speed 5 minutes. Batter will become creamier and satiny.
Spoon batter into pan (batter is enough for approximately 6 mini loaves) and rap pan against work surface once or twice to eliminate air bubbles. Place pan in (cold) oven and turn oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in middle of cake comes out with a few crumbs adhering, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Cool cake in pan on a rack 30 minutes. Run a thin knife around inner and outer edges of cake, then invert rack over pan and invert cake onto rack to cool completely. Once cooled, wrap in plastic and keep at room temperature until assembly.
adapted from bakerella’s “Cheesecake Bars”
Graham Cracker Crust
1 1/2 cups finely crushed graham crackers (about 9 crackers or 1 package)
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 stick butter
Preheat oven to 350°.
Melt butter and thoroughly combine with crushed graham crackers and sugar in a medium bowl. Press mixture firmly into the bottom of a 13 X 9 pan.
3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp flour
8 oz. sour cream
2 tbsp vanilla
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 325°.
Cream the sugar, cream cheese, and flour with an electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy. On medium low, add eggs one at a time, mixing well with each addition. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until just combined; fold in chocolate chips if desired. Pour on prepared crust and bake for about 45 minutes. Remove and cool, then cover and refrigerate until needed.
Slice cheesecake bars into squares, and pound cake into slices. Butter the outside of each slice of cake with softened butter and make into a sandwich with the cheesecake squares (crust included). Grilled until golden brown on both sides; serve warm.