When most people think of cheesecake, they think of dessert. Crabmeat Cheesecake is one of the signature dishes at Palace Cafe on Canal Street next to the French Quarter. Palace Cafe is owned by Dickie Brennan, a member of the Brennan family that owns Commander’s Palace. Dickie is the only member of the Brennan family that has trained to be a chef. When Palace Cafe first opened, he was the executive chef. The Crabmeat Cheesecake is an excellent way to start a meal at Palace Cafe. It is the perfect appetizer to share at a table.
Pecan Crust ¾ C – Pecans 1 C – All-purpose flour ¼ T – Salt 5 T – Butter, cold 3 T – Ice water
Filling ½ C – Onion, small diced 1 T – Butter 4 oz – Crabmeat 8 oz – Cream cheese, room temperature ⅓ C – Creole cream cheese or sour cream 2 ea – Eggs 1 T – Hot pepper sauce (we use Crystal hot sauce in this recipe) Kosher salt and white pepper to taste
Meunière Sauce 1 ea – Lemon, peeled and quartered ½ C – Worcestershire sauce ½ C – Hot pepper sauce ¼ C – Heavy whipping cream 1 lb – Butter, cold, cut into small cubes Kosher salt and white pepper to taste
Garnish 2 C – Sliced, mixed wild mushrooms 3 T – Butter, softened 24 ea – Crab claw fingers Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Preparing the Pecan Crust Preheat oven to 350°. Finely grind pecans in a food processor. Add flour and salt. Mix well. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and cut in butter, working butter into flour with two knives until dough is in crumbs the size of small peas. Add ice water and evenly incorporate into the mixture, which should remain fairly crumbly. Roll out dough to an 1/8″ thickness on a lightly floured surface. Press dough into a lightly greased 9″ tart pan, starting with the sides and then the bottom. Bake crust for 20 minutes, or until golden. Note: Dough can be made ahead of time. If doing so, wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Allow dough to come to room temperature before rolling out.
Preparing the Filling Sauté onion in butter until translucent. Add crabmeat and cook just until heated through, then remove from heat. Blend cream cheese until smooth in a mixer fitted with a paddle, or by hand using a wooden spoon. Add Creole cream cheese and mix well. Mix in eggs one at a time. Gently fold in crabmeat mixture. Stir in hot sauce and season to taste with salt and white pepper. Spoon filling into prepared crust. Bake at 300° for 30-40 minutes, or until firm to the touch.
Preparing the Meunière Sauce and Garnish Combine lemon, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce in a heavy saucepot. Reduce over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk until mixture becomes thick and syrupy. Whisk in heavy whipping cream. Reduce heat to low and slowly blend in butter one cube at a time, adding additional butter only after previously added butter has completely incorporated into the sauce. This process is called “mounting the butter.” Remove from heat and continue to stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Strain through a fine strainer and keep warm. Sauté mushrooms in 2T butter until tender and all moisture has cooked off. Excess water from the mushrooms may break your sauce if it isn’t cooked off. Stir mushrooms into meunière sauce. Melt 1T butter in a sauté pan and warm crab claws over low heat.
To serve Slice cheesecake and top each piece with warm meunière sauce and three crab claws.