Sopapilla cheesecake is a popular dessert dish in South American cuisine; it seems to be particularly prevalent in the cuisines of New Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. The word sopapilla is derived from sopaipa, a Spanish term for fried bread, and sopapilla is actually a puffy, fried South American pastry, with many sweet, salty and stuffed regional variations. The sweet sopapillas are eaten with honey or syrup, the salted ones are eaten with mustard or sauce, and the stuffed ones may have a bean, meat, or pepper filling. The combination of the sopapilla pastry with a regular cheesecake produces the sopapilla cheesecake. There are variations of these cheese dishes too, including some that incorporate different types of cakes and custard desserts.
The ingredients require to make the basic sopapilla cheesecake include cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, butter, cinnamon and dough. Instead of the dough, crescent rolls can be purchased ready-made. If the rolls are not available ready-made, they can be made by mixing dry yeast, warm water, warm milk, sugar, flour, salt and butter together in a bowl. The resulting dough should be kneaded well until it is soft and smooth, and it should then be set aside to rise for about an hour. The risen dough should then be lightly dusted with flour, rolled into a flat circle and cut into triangular sections.
For the sopapilla cheesecake filling, the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla are mixed together. This sweet filling is spread on top of a dough triangle, and a second dough triangle is placed over the filling. The seams of the two dough sheets are pressed close and the filled pieces are set aside to rise for half an hour. The pieces are then brushed with melted butter, put in a baking pan and baked in the oven for about 20 minutes. The sopapilla cheesecake is ready when the outer crust has turned a rich golden brown.
Sopapilla cheesecake is generally available in many restaurants offering New Mexican and South American cuisine; this dish doesn't seem to feature in purely Mexican cuisine. It can be quite a delicious dessert, but, with the high level of sugar and fat content, it is not the healthiest food around. It is advisable to indulge in these cheese dishes in moderation, and perhaps to make or seek more healthier versions that contain low-fat cream cheese and a sugar alternative.