Savoury California Walnut Cheesecakes

These stylish hors d?oeuvres, infused with the crunchy goodness of California walnuts, are best made a day ahead to allow the cheesecake to chill before cutting into squares. Top with your favourite ingredients to provide guests a variety of tastes and colours during the holiday season. Tip: For a lower fat version, substitute regular cream cheese with 1-1/4 packages light cream cheese.

Serves: 15-20
Bake Time: 20 minutes
Refrigerate Time: 8 hours
Advance Time: 1 day


Crust: 1 cup (250 mL) graham cracker crumbs 1/4 cup (50 mL) butter, melted 1 tsp (5 mL) sugar 1 tsp (5 mL) freshly ground pepper Filling: 1-1/4 8 oz (250 g) packages cream cheese, room temperature (11 oz / 312.5 g total) 2 tbsp (30 mL) sugar 1 whole egg 1 egg yolk 4 tsp (20 mL) sour cream 1/2 tsp (2 mL) lemon juice 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt 1/2 tsp (2 mL) freshly ground pepper 3/4 cup (175 mL) California walnuts, finely chopped 1/4 cup (50 mL) finely chopped fresh chives

Cooking Instructions:

Preheat oven to 300F (150C). Line a 9-inch (23 cm) pan with foil, allowing it to hang over the edge for easy removal of cheesecake. Crust: In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar and pepper. Press into lined pan. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Cool completely. Filling: Using a food processor, blend cream cheese, sugar, egg, egg yolk, sour cream, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Process until all ingredients are fully incorporated and batter is free of lumps, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir in walnuts and chives. Pour into pan and spread evenly over crust. Bake for 20 minutes or until centre is firm. Do not over bake. Cool completely in pan, cover and place in refrigerator overnight. Remove cheesecake from pan. With a warm, dry knife, trim off edges. Cut remaining cheesecake into 1-inch (2.5 cm) or 1-1/2-inch (3.8 cm) squares, wiping the knife after each cut. Top as desired and serve.

Topping Suggestions:

Smoked salmon with a sprig of fresh dill

Pear with caramelized onions 

Caviar and sour cream 

Prosciutto wrapped fig

Black olive tapenade