When I read the title of the recipe I let out such a sound that the dog perked his ears up at me. I LOVE goat cheese. There's a story about my fave Crotin de Chavignol, but that's a blog in of itself. So here's Sheila to tell us about the recipe.
I set out to write mysteries, so I find it very funny that I've published a growing number of recipes. Not that I'm complaining–I love to eat, I love to cook, and the research is a lot of fun!
I took this to a whole new level with my most recent book, Red Delicious Death, in which I created not only recipes but an entire restaurant for my fictional town! Of course, for this I had to eat in a lot of restaurants (oh, poor me), and even interview chefs. I owe a lot to Justin Melnick of Tomasso Trattoria in Northborough, MA, who (a) uses local foods (very well!) and (b) was willing to give me a tour of his kitchen and answer all sorts of dumb questions. The following is modeled after one of his yummy desserts, which I modified for those of us with mere mortal skills.
GOAT CHEESE MINI CHEESECAKES
You may make these as tangy or as mild as you like, depending on your choice of goat cheese (okay, if you hate goat cheese you can go with all cream cheese, but keep the hazelnuts for flavor).
Makes one dozen
1/2 cup crumbled sugar cookies (homemade or purchased)
1/4 cup finely chopped hazelnuts
1 Tblsp plus 1 tsp sugar
3 Tblsp unsalted butter
1 8-oz package cream cheese, at room temperature
8 oz. goat cheese of your choice, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
Combine cookie crumbs, hazelnuts and sugar, then stir in melted butter. Press one Tblsp crumb mixture firmly in the bottom of each lined cup (the bottom of a glass works well for this). Bake until set, about 7 minutes.
Lower oven temperature to 275 degrees.
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese and goat cheese together until smooth. Gradually add sugar, followed by vanilla. Beat until well combined, about 3 minutes. Drizzle in the eggs slowly, stopping often to scrape down sides of bowl. Beat in sour cream and salt.
Pour batter into lined cups, filling almost to very top. Bake for 20-22 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks. Refrigerate in tins at least 4 hours or overnight.
To serve, you may drizzle honey or a berry syrup lightly over the cakes.
Blurb for Red Delicious Death: Granford newcomer Meg Corey has more than enough to do, between restoring the colonial house she's inherited and trying to manage her orchard. Then a trio of young chefs fresh out of cooking school arrives in town to open a restaurant using local foods, and Meg volunteers to help them out.
But then one of the chefs is found dead in a farmer's pig wallow. When Meg begins looking into the death, her investigation digs up some old town secrets–and Meg soon realizes that they have a locally grown killer on their hands.
Author bio: Sheila Connolly has been an art historian, a financial consultant, a political fundraiser, and a professional genealogist. Now she writes mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime: the Glassblowing Mysteries as Sarah Atwell, whose debut book, Through a Glass, Deadly, was nominated for an Agatha Award; and the Orchard Mysteries, under her own name. Sheila's new series, the Museum Mysteries, also from Berkley Prime Crime, will debut in October 2010. Sheila is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of American and Romance Writers of America. She also serves on the planning committee for the New England Crime Bake conference.