Ok, I am obviously some kind of cheese pie freak, and I admit this is my third cheesecake type recipe in the last couple of months, but you will just have to bear with me.
In the past, we made a couple of 18th century dishes that were called cheesecakes, but they were very different from the familiar modern cheesecake. 18th century cookbooks seem to have a lot of recipes that are called cheesecake, a few even containing cheese, but most do not come very close to what we now call a cheesecake. This dish comes a bit closer than most, but with a interesting twist: Parmesan.
The recipe is from William Rabisha’s The Whole Body of Cookery Dissected (1682)
This recipe makes quite a large tart so we are going to cut the recipe in half.
Parmesan Cheese Tart
- 6 oz Parmesan cheese, grated fine
- 3 whole eggs plus 3 additional egg yolks.
- 4 oz of butter, melted
- 1/2 tsp of powdered ginger
- 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- 1/2 of a nutmeg, grated (about 1/2 tsp)
- 3 oz fresh bread crumbs (the crumb of any white bread, crust removed, and pulsed in a food processor will work perfectly)
- 3 Tbs of sugar
- somewhere around 2 to 3 cups of heavy cream
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, except for the cream, and stir with a spoon until well incorporated. Add as much cream as necessary to make a thin batter. The amount of cream needed will vary depending on the type of bread you use. The goal is to have a batter that you can pour — like pancake batter. The cheese and the bread crumbs will make the batter lumpy.
For a savory pie cut back the sugar to 1 or 2 Tablespoons. If you want it a sweeter pie, add 3, even 4 tablespoons.
Pour the batter into pie pans lined with a short paste. This recipe filled one of our 9″ pie pans with enough left over to fill a tart made in our pewter bowl. You can place optional strips of puff paste across the top. Finish by sprinkling a little sugar on top just before you place the pie in the oven, or add some sugar after baking and brown it with a salamander or torch.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. Larger pies will take longer than smaller ones. The puff paste will puff up and brown, indicating when the pie is done.
The finished tart has a texture similar to that of a modern American cheesecake but is not nearly as sweet. You can take detect in this cheesecake the subtle bite of the Parmesan Cheese, but it’s not overpowering — perfect for the addition of fruit.