A cheesecake is usually a dessert consisting of a soft cheese on top of a pastry or sponge base. Hard biscuits are also frequently used as the base for a cheesecake occasionally. The cheesy layer is often sprinkled with sugar and given a topping consisting of nuts and bits of fruit. Fruity flavors or extracts are used as well while a cheesecake recipe recommending a chocolate topping is not unheard of either.
Although the cheesecake is considered to be a dessert item, savory or spicy tasting cheesecakes are served as hors d'oeuvres frequently along with a salad.
History Of The Cheesecake
A cheesecake was one of the most popular food items in ancient Greece. The Romans then adopted the cheesecake recipe after conquering the land. The Grecian physician Aegimus is credited with formulating two distinct kinds of recipes known as Placenta and libum. The cheesecake recipe followed till this day is the former where the crust gets to be prepared and subsequently baked quite separately.
William Lawrence of Chester in New York accidentally created the soft and heavier form of cheese in the late eighties which was creamier than its counterparts as well. This cheese gained popularity as ‘Philadelphia’ which was later on pasteurized by James Kraft in 1912 and went on to be used in the preparation of the cake.
Ingredients Used In A Cheesecake Recipe
Cream cheese along with eggs and a little corn starch are the primary ingredients of a cheesecake. The Italians prefer to use the ricotta cheese while the Polish and Germans make use of the quark cheese while baking the cheesecake. A springform pan paired with a water bath is most commonly utilized during the baking process. The high density of the cake, however, makes it continue to be baked for a few minutes even after it is removed from the oven.
The cheesecake recipe emphasizes on the quality of cheese as the cheesecake is bound to disintegrate if the batter becomes too light. A solution to the problem can be obtained by adding a little unflavored gelatin or some cornstarch beaten with eggs.
An assortment of fruits can also be used while baking the cheesecake. A strawberry cheesecake recipe demands the use of fresh fruit while the Pineapple flavor can be obtained by adding canned pineapple chunks to the cheese filled dessert.
Some types of cheesecakes are very similar to custards topped with a drizzle of chocolate and nuts. The sour cheesecake, on the other hand, uses sour cream in the 1:1 ration with the cream cheese. A fresh egg white is recommended to be brushed over the top by the cheesecake recipe which describes the preparation of a sour cheesecake.
Popular Cheesecake Recipes & Serving Methods
The cheesecake recipe varies from region to region and tastes quite different in other parts of the world. The cheesecake baked in New York for instance uses heavy cream while the ones from Pennsylvania is a little tangy in taste. Country styled cheesecakes uses buttermilk along with the cheese which leads to a longer shelf life.
Most of Britain, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia prefer to prepare their cheesecakes without baking. The base is made up of biscuits with a filling of cream cheese and sugar topped with a fruit compote is kept refrigerated until it hardens.
Barley flakes and ricotta cheese along with vanilla extracts are the mainstay of an Italian cheesecake while the ancient Roman cheesecake recipe calls for the use of bay leaves and honey.
The unduly light French cheesecake is due to the addition of Neufchâtel cheese which is very soft and creamy. Gelatin is serves as the main binding agent in the French variety. They are also much smaller in size.
The Greek variation is called the Tiropita and consists of buttered layers filed with an egg and cheese mixture. It is quite unlike the other cheesecakes found in other parts of the world.
The cheesecake recipe for Swedish cakes differ considerably too where the dessert is served warm along with jam or ice cream. The milk curdling agent rennet is directly added to the cake during the process of baking.
The sweet and sour taste of the unbaked cheesecake is unique to Germany and is expected to literally melt in the mouth. The Dutch and Belgian cheesecake varies widely too and is flavored with the bitter sweet chocolate.
The cheesecake prepared in Latin America is served with marmalade. Berry marmalade are popular in Argentina while the Brazilians prefer to have guava marmalade along with their cheesecake.
The cheesecake is not very popular in Asia although Japan prepares a form of it flavored with greren tea extracts, lychee or the mango.
Types of Cheesecakes
There are quite a lot of cheesecakes available with possibly one to suit every taste.
Chocolate : A cheesecake created on a base of chocolate cracker crumbs with the filling liberally spruced up with chocolate chips is a strong favorite.
Fruit : Fruit flavored cream cheese cakes are the commonest type with almost every country having their own specialty.
Holiday : A cheesecake baked with a holiday theme in mind like using pumpkin for Halloween or candy cane during the winter holidays are extremely popular too.
Diet Cheesecakes : Sour cream or low fat cheese is often replaced for cream cheese while trying to bake a low calorie version.
No Bake : Cheesecakes that require no baking are popular in a lot of countries and no bake mixes are now available at the local supermarkets and grocery shops too.
Savory cheesecakes are excellent appetizers and the bacon, cheddar cheese combination or the onion and ham filling can also be served as finger foods at a party. Adding artichokes or freshly ground herbs is enough to convert the humble cheesecake into a gourmet snack.
- The cheesecake Truck is a song by the King’s missile band which mentions the food item fourteen times in one minute.
- The popular sitcom ‘Friends’ has an entire episode called ‘The One With All The Cheesecakes’ in their 7th season.