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Parmesan Artichoke Cheesecake Countdown Clock and Mini Time’s Square (Cheese) Balls

After baking and decorating tons of sweets for Christmas, I was so ready to make a few savory dishes for New Year’s and was happy when a friend invited us to her party and actually asked if I’d bring some festively decorated appetizers and help her decorate the food table.

I love decorating in black and white with silver accents and have lots of dishes that match that theme, so that part of her request was quite easy.

For the food, I had a few ideas. My friend loves cheesecake and had served a savory cheesecake at one of her New Year’s Eve parties a few years ago. Sadly it wasn’t very good. She had never made a savory version of a cheesecake before and tried a recipe that just didn’t have a great flavor. She asked if I had any good recipes. I had never made a savory cheesecake either and did not have a recipe, so I did some research.

After looking at dozens of recipes, and not finding exactly what I wanted, I decided to try to marry two of our favorite recipes together instead of using any of the recipes I found. I figured that way I was assured I’d have a flavor profile that we really loved.

I started with the ultimate cheesecake recipe, eliminating the sweet stuff, of course, and combined it with a fabulous Parmesan Artichoke dip and baked it on a crispy Town House Sea Salt Pretzel Thin crust. It was an absolute perfect marriage of flavors. I kept the cake thin so with each bite you’d get a nice crunch to go along with the rich creamy texture. The Parmesan cheese is pronounced with hints of marinated artichokes throughout.

To make the cheesecake festive, I decorated it to look like a countdown to midnight clock.. I’ve used this idea several times for New Year’s. It’s easy yet looks impressive.I’ll be serving the cheesecake clock on one of my funky silver serving platters which gives the clock a more finished look.

To go along with the cheesecake, I also turned some cheese balls into Time’s Square Cheese Balls. By wrapping a scoop of cheese ball mixture around a black stir stick then coating it in crushed Town House Sea Salt and Olive Oil Flatbread crisps it looks like the cheese balls are suspended on the black poles and have the look of the Time’s Square Ball Drop.

To serve the cheese balls, I filled a silver box with Styrofoam covered with silver shred and arranged the sticks at different heights. They’ll be easy to pick up out of the box and eat as guests are chatting with friends at the party.

Being my friend and I both love the combination of sweet and salty, I couldn’t resist making some chocolate ganache to be served with some Town House Pretzel Thins for dipping. It’s a simple combination of chocolate and heavy whipping cream and is such an amazing compliment to the salty pretzel thins.For a fun touch, I will serve the ganache in a martini glass that I set inside a serving bowl that’s filled with the pretzel thins.

Ingredients :
  • 40 Town House Sea Salt Pretzel Thins
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese*
  • 16 ounces 2 blocks cream cheese, softened and divided
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese*
  • 6 cloves roasted garlic minced
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt plus more, to taste
  • 2 - 10 or 12 ounce jars marinated artichokes
  • pepper to taste
  • *Being the Parmesan flavor is very pronounced in this cheesecake I highly recommend using Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese.
Supplies :
  • 8 inch round springform pan
  • non-stick baking spray
  • food processor
  • 9 inch x 13 inch baking pan
  • black food coloring
  • pastry bag
  • coupler and #3 and #6 pastry tips
Instructions :
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spray the springform pan with non-stick spray.
  3. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  4. Pour the Town House Pretzel Thins in the bowl of a food processor.
  5. Pulse to fine crumbs.
  6. Add Parmesan Cheese and butter and pulse until it resembles wet sand.
  7. Press crumb mixture into the bottom of the springform pan.
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the crust starts to brown around the edge of the pan.
  9. Cut two ounces of cream cheese off one block and reserve for later.
  10. Clean food processor bowl, and place remaining 14 ounces of cream cheese inside.
  11. Pulse until creamy and smooth.
  12. Add the sour cream, Parmesan cheese, roasted garlic, egg, egg yolk, and salt.
  13. Pulse until well combined.
  14. Add artichokes, and pulse until chunky.
  15. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
  16. Pour cheesecake filling over crust and spread into an even layer.
  17. Wrap bottom of springform pan in tin foil.
  18. Set in the 9x13 baking pan, set it in the hot oven, pour hot water into the baking pan, being careful to not spill any into the cheesecake.
  19. Bake for 40 minutes.
  20. Turn off oven, open oven door, and allow cheesecake to remain in oven for 15 more minutes.
  21. Remove cheesecake from water bath and allow it to cool at room temperature for an hour. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to several days.
  22. Remove from springform pan and set on a serving platter.
  23. Stir black food coloring into the reserved 2 ounces of cream cheese and put it in a pastry bag fitted with a #3 pastry tip.
  24. Pipe on 1 through 12 onto the round cheesecake in a clock sequence.
  25. Change the tips and put the #6 tip on the pastry bag.
  26. Pipe on the hands of the clock.
  27. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
  28. I popped my cheesecake in the freezer and will thaw it on New Year's Eve before the party.
  29. You can serve the cheesecake all on it's own, or with more Town House Sea Salt Pretzel Thins or some Town House Sea Salt and Olive Oil Flatbread Crisps.
  30. To make the chocolate ganache, heat 6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate with 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream on high in the microwave for 30 seconds, then stir, and heat for 15 second increments, stirring after each until melted.
  31. Serve with Town House Sea Salt Pretzel Thins.
  32. To make my cheese balls, I crushed 10 Town House Sea Salt and Olive Oil Flatbread Crisps to fine crumbs then blended 4 ounces cream cheese with 4 ounces garlic and herb Boursin cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and 4 ounces Italian blend shredded cheese. I scooped out a tablespoonful and wrapped it around a black stir stick and sprinkled on the crumbs.
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