Cheesecake is a large family of sweet, cheese-based custard pies.
Cheesecakes are generally made with soft, fresh cheeses. Other ingredients such as sugar, eggs, flour, liquids are often mixed in as well. Typically, the filling covers a crust, which may be pastry, cookie, or digestive biscuit.
The word cheesecake is also used to describe the creamy, cheesy flavour of the dessert. There are also savoury cheesecakes, often flavoured with blue cheese and served as hors d'oeuvres or with accompanying salads.
cheesecakes generally rely on cream cheese
, invented in 1872 as an alternative to French Neufchâtel
- New York-style cheesecake, made famous by Lindy's and Junior's Deli, relies upon heavy cream, cream cheese, eggs and egg yolks to add a richness and a smooth consistency. Also called Jewish-style, it is baked in a special 13-15 cm (5- to 6-inch) tall spring form pan in many restaurants. Some recipes use cottage cheese and lemon for distinct texture and flavor or add chocolate or strawberry to the basic recipe.
- Chicago-style cheesecake is a baked cream-cheese version that is firm outside and creamy inside.
- Pennsylvania Dutch-style cheesecake uses a slightly tangy type of cheese with larger curds and less water content, called pot or farmer's cheese.
- Philadelphia-style cheesecake is lighter in texture, yet creamier in flavor than New York style cheesecake.
- Farmer's cheese cheesecake is the contemporary implementation for the traditional use of baking to preserve fresh cheese and often is baked in a cake form along with fresh fruit like a tart.
- Sour cream cheesecake is thought to have originated in the mid-20th century in the United States after the mass homogenization of milk and the loss of cream as a widely available ingredient. It still uses cream cheese but has no heavy cream. It is the most widely used recipe for cheesecake other than New York-style in the United States. It can be frozen for short periods of time without ruining the texture. Many factory-made cheesecakes use this method because of this trait.
- Country-style cheesecake uses buttermilk to produce a firm texture while decreasing the pH (increasing acidity) to extend shelf life.
- Lactose free cheesecake may be made either with lactose-free cream cheese or as an imitation using Vegan recipes combining non-dairy cream cheese alternatives with other lactose-free ingredients.
- Cottage cheese and lemon versions.
- Vancouver-style cheesecake is a light, airy style made without a crust, primarily in vanilla and chocolate and often served refrigerated with various local fruit toppings such as British Columbia strawberries, raspberries and cherries. Seattle-style cheesecake has been modelled closely after Vancouver-style. It is usually made with cream cheese.
British and Australasian
In the United Kingdom
and New Zealand
, cheesecake is a rich creamy dessert, neither cooked nor baked, which is served chilled. Queen Elizabeth I
was said to have enjoyed strawberry cheesecake.
It is made with a biscuit base, the filling is a mixture of soft cheese, sugar, cream, and sometimes gelatin. It can come in a variety of flavours including such traditional flavours as strawberry, cherry, raspberry and lemon. It can also be made with banoffee flavour, chocolate and Irish cream and white chocolate.
- Roman-style cheesecake uses honey and a ricotta-like cheese along with flour and is traditionally shaped into loaves. Some recipes call for bay leaves, which may have been used as a preservative. It is still baked in areas in Italy that kept culinary traditions alive after the fall of Rome.
- Italian-style cheesecake is a modern version of Roman cheesecake. It uses ricotta or mascarpone cheese, replaces the honey with sugar, omits the bay leaves, and adds other modern ingredients such as vanilla extract and barley flakes. This type of cheesecake is typically drier than American styles. Often, small bits of candied fruit are added.
- French-style cheesecakes are very light, feature gelatin as a binding ingredient and are typically only 3 to 5 cm (1 to 2 inches) tall. This variety gets its light texture and flavor from Neufchâtel cheese and is found in outdoor markets in the South of France and fine pastry shops in Paris.
- Swedish-style cheesecake differs greatly from other cheese cakes. A Swedish cheesecake is not layered and is traditionally produced by adding rennet to milk and letting the casein coagulate. It is then baked in an oven and served warm. Since the process of curdling milk is somewhat complicated, alternative recipes intended for home cooking instead use cottage cheese as a base to simulate the texture of the dessert. Swedish-style cheesecake is traditionally served with jam and whipped cream or ice cream. There are two different types of Swedish cheesecake, from different regions in Sweden. To avoid confusion with other cheesecakes Swedish cheesecake is usually called ostkaka, its Swedish name.
- German-style cheesecake (Käsekuchen, Quarkkuchen, Matzkuchen) uses quark cheese. The Käsesahnetorte (cheese cream tart) adds cream and does not get baked. Germany is famous for its unique cheesecake recipes that add a bit of sweet and sour taste said to "melt in your mouth".
- Dutch/Belgian-style cheesecakes are typically flavored with melted bittersweet chocolate. Belgian cheesecake includes also a speculaas crust (speculaas is a traditional Dutch-Belgian biscuit).
cheesecake flavours include matcha
(powdered Japanese green tea) and mango
Culinary uses and challenges
Almost all modern cheesecakes in the United States use cream cheese
; in Italy, cheesecakes use ricotta
and Germans use quark cheese
The type of cheese not only affects texture and taste but the ability to incorporate certain types of ingredients. When cheesecake batter is too thin many cheesecakes will not be structurally sound and fall apart at the table. One way to get around this is to use unflavoured gelatin or a little cornstarch beaten with the eggs.
A common difficulty with baking cheesecakes is its tendency to "crack" when cooled. This is due to the coagulation of the beaten eggs in its batter. There are various methods to prevent this. One method is to bake the cheesecake in a hot water bath to ensure even heating. Other methods include blending a little cornstarch into the batter to prevent the coagulation of eggs or baking the cheesecake at a lower temperature and slow cooling it in the oven, turned off, with the door ajar. If these methods fail, a common practice is to cover the top of the cheesecake with toppings such as fruit, whipped cream, or cookie crumbs.
Another common problem, particularly with baked cheesecakes, is the biscuit base becomes too soft. For extra crunch, replace around a quarter of the crushed biscuits with Grape Nuts.
Many types of cheesecake are essentially custards, which can lead a novice baker to overcook them, expecting them to behave like true cakes.
A sour cream-style cheesecake uses close to a 1:1 volume ratio of cream cheese to sour cream to make the traditional texture that crumbles like a good roquefort cheese with a distinctive sunken center and a golden-colored top from the Maillard reaction. An extra egg white brushed on the top can achieve the same effect in less time if you desire the cheesecake to be "gooey" when set.
Uncooked fruits that contain live protein eating enzymes such as papaya, pineapple, kiwifruit or mango should be avoided for inclusion in the mixture, as cheesecakes containing them have a tendency not to set. However, when pineapple and mango are crushed and used in moderation, the cheesecake will set.
- In 1999, at one of the weekend-long Phish festivals, Big Cypress, held at the Seminole Indian Reservation in southern Florida, New Years Weekend, ABC Nightly World News broadcast a performance of Heavy Things. In an attempt to confuse viewers, members of the band requested that instead of applause at the end of the song, the audience chant "cheesecake" over and over. It became a running joke for Phish to reference cheesecake throughout the duration of the show. During a performance of You Enjoy Myself, the band went into a trademarked, vocal jam in which each of them sang "cheesecake", types of cheesecake, and so forth. This has since been commonly referred to as the "Ben Milan Jam".