Besides being a music venue, the House of Blues also has a pretty darn good restaurant within. I've only eaten at the ones in New Orleans and Los Angeles, but I've never had a bad meal there. They specialize in Southern, Cajun and Creole cooking, and they do quite a good job (and lemme tella ya, they got a lot o' competition in New Orleans).
Gumbo Pages contributor Greg Beron sent in this recipe, which is similar to an excellent dessert once served at the House of Blues. Unfortunately, it's no longer on the menu ... but you can put it on the menu at home. The ground toasted pecans in the ginger-snap crust are a perfect touch.
If you want to be really extravagant and decadent (and this is dessert, so that's exactly how you want to be), substitute Mascarpone cheese, a wonderfully sweet and rich Italian cream-style cheese, for good ol' Philadelphia Cream Cheese.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the ground pecans and cookie crumbs; add the melted butter and mix well. To form the crust, press the crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- For the crust:
- 1-1/2 cups finely ground ginger cookie crumbs
- 3/4 cup toasted pecans, ground
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- For the filling:
- 8 ounces cream cheese or Mascarpone cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup puréed sweet potato (or yam; the orange kind, not the yellow kind)
- 5 eggs
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- For the praline sauce:
- 8 ounces unsalted butter
- 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
In a mixer, beat the cream or Mascarpone cheese until smooth, then add the sugars and spices and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, approximately 3-4 minutes. Add the sweet potato purée and mix until just blended. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping bowl after each egg. Stir in heavy cream at low speed until completely blended.
Pour the filling into into the pan. Put the pan into a 1 to 1/2 inch bain marie, or warm water bath (it's a good idea to wrap the bottom and sides of the springform pan to prevent water from leaking in.) Cook the cheesecake in the bain marie for 50 minutes at 350°F.
Cool the cheesecake at room temperature for 45 minutes. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.
While the cheesecake is cooling, make the praline sauce: melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the brown sugar, cream and pecans. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Keep warm.
To serve, place each serving a slice of pie onto a dessert plate, then spoon a pool of warm praline sauce over and around each serving. Top with a dollop of fresh whipped cream, and garnish with a sprig of mint.
YIELD: 8 servings.
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Chuck Taggart (e-mail chuck)