The subject is a minefield.
There are as many opinions as to what constitutes a good Cheesecake as there
are recipes. When I was a girl in California, there was only one sort served.
It was Vanilla flavored, made from Cream Cheese in a Graham Cracker crust, with
no topping. The place to find it was in one of the few bakeries which catered
to those who had relocated from the East Coast. I was utterly indifferent to
its charms. Then, on a visit to New York, a dear cousin took me to the famous
old Lindy's restaurant and I began to see the light. In short order I discovered
Italian Ricotta pies, and my search for new ways to enjoy this treat has never
Some basics about Cheesecakes--
You must acquire a 9"
springform pan, since virtually all recipes call for one. A springform pan (sometimes
called a latch pan) is made in two pieces. One is a flat disc, and the other
is a ring, about 3 inches high, which fastens around the disc. The ring is controlled
by a lever which is a spring, hence the name of the pan. When something is made
in a springform pan, the disc becomes a base for the finished product. The sides
of the pan are removed, and the disc is placed on a serving plate with the Cake
upon it. If you want to give a party and serve several Cakes, buy several pans.
Please take my word for this. If you try to remove the Cake from the disc, it
will break, probably fall all over the place, and undoubtedly give rise to indelicate
language. You will also need another pan which is a few inches larger than the
springform one, and deep enough to hold about 2 inches of water.
When you are going to make
a Cake, turn the springform pan upside down, and wrap it with wide heavy-duty
Aluminum foil. Place the pan in the middle of the sheet of foil and press the
foil to it, up to the top. Springform pans leak, unless you do this. Most Cheesecakes
have a Crumb Crust which you will bake in the pan at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.
You will then pour the basic mixture on top of the Crust.
To bake the Cake, place
the large pan in an oven which has been preheated to 325 degrees, then place
the springform pan inside it. Pour hot water into the larger pan until it is
about 2/3 of the way up the sides of the springform pan. Then push the rack
into the oven and leave the cake alone for about 1 1/2 hours. DO NOT try to
do these machinations before you put the pan in the oven. If you try to lift
a pan filled with hot water and Cheesecake batter into the oven, you will slosh,
spill, get burned, and make a terrible mess. When the hot water sloshes on you,
you will drop the whole thing and it will take ages to clean everything. Although
you will sometimes see recipes which do not call for this method of baking in
a water bath, I wouldn't do without it. Cakes done without the waterbath run
the risk of being dry, and the cracks being much worse. (Most cheesecakes have
cracks, which is why you always see them with toppings, even the plain ones
do have something to mask the cracks)
When the Cake is done,
chill it before you remove the sides of the pan or try to cut into it in any
way. Although many things are very nice right from the oven, Cheesecake is not
one of them. The structure must be cold, before it is disturbed. To remove the
Cake, run a thin bladed spatula around the sides, then open the latch and remove
I am certain that many
of you will want to know if there is a way to have Cheesecake without Fat and
Sugar. The answer is yes, and no. The texture of the finished Cake is dependent
upon the Fat content of the ingredients. If a recipe calls for Cream Cheese,
Cottage Cheese, or Ricotta Cheese: feel free to play with it and find the lowest
Fat version which is acceptable to your palate. You may substitute Non-Fat Evaporated
Milk for Whipping Cream, and use Low-Fat Sweetened Condensed Milk rather than
the full Fat sort. The texture WILL be different, but it may be fine to you.
A word of warning--Because the "mouth-feel" of low Fat Cakes is different,
there is a tendency to consume a great deal more in order to be happy. Do be
careful. About sugar--You may substitute a non-aspartame artificial sweetener
for up to half the sugar in baked cheesecakes. Do not use an aspartame based
sweetener, because it will break down with the application of heat. Unless you
are Diabetic, do not try to do away with Sugar altogether, because there will
be a large difference in both flavor and texture. Do not omit or lessen the
amount of Flour in these recipes. If you run across a recipe anywhere which
does not call for Flour, ignore it, unless you are a very accomplished baker.
Milk and Eggs both have long Protein molecules which curl together at high temperatures
in cooked mixtures, ergo curdling. The only sure way to prevent curdling is
by coating the molecules with Starch; that is why you should use Flour. Apply
this piece of advice if you are making any sort of Egg and Milk combination
which is cooked. A tablespoon of Flour added to a Custard will prevent disaster.
On to our recipes....
2 cups fine dry Crumbs from any flavor Cookie
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted Butter OR 2 Egg Whites
Mix the Crumbs with Sugar. Add either the melted Butter OR Egg Whites, and mix
thoroughly. Press into the bottom and partly up the sides of a springform pan,
or on the bottom and all the way up the sides of a 10 inch glass pie plate.
Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Remove from oven. Fill as directed in the
recipe. Either proceed with further baking, or chill and serve.
Basic Cottage Cheese
4 cups smooth whipped Cottage
1/3 cup Whipping Cream
1 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Flour
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Almond extract
5 Eggs, separated
In a large mixing bowl, beat the Egg Whites until stiff but not dry, and set
aside. In another mixing bowl, beat the remaining ingredients together until
smooth. Add one large spoonful of the beaten Egg Whites to the Cheese mixture,
and stir in, to "lighten" it. Pour the Cheese mixture into the bowl
with the rest of the beaten Egg Whites, and fold until completely combined.
Pour the Batter on top of a prepared Crumb Crust in a 9 inch springform pan.
Bake in a water bath at 350 degrees for 1 1/4 hours. Chill, remove the ring
from the pan, and serve. You may decorate the top of this cake with a tin of
any flavor prepared Pie Filling or sliced fresh Fruit.
Increase Sugar to 1 1/3 cups and Whipping Cream to 1/2 cup. Add 1/3 cup Cocoa
Powder. Dissolve 1 tablespoon instant Coffee Powder in the Extracts before adding.
Decorate the top with a bit of shaved Chocolate before serving.
Use one teaspoon Orange extract in place of the Almond extract. Add 2 tablespoons
grated Orange Peel. Before serving, glaze with 1/2 cup melted Orange Marmalade.
Use Ginger Snap Cookies for the Crust. Add 4 teaspoons fresh grated Ginger Root.
Before serving, decorate the top with 1/2 cup finely chopped Candied Ginger.
Use 1 teaspoon artificial Maple extract in place of the Almond extract. Add
1 teaspoon Cinnamon. Before serving top with a tin of prepared Apple Pie filling.
Basic Cream Cheese
4 (8 ounce) packages Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Flour
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Almond extract
In a large mixing bowl, beat the Cream Cheese until very light and fluffy. Add
the remaining ingredients and beat until completely smooth. Pour on top of a
prepared Crumb Crust in a 9 inch springform pan. Bake in a hot water bath at
350 degrees for 1 hour. Chill, remove ring from pan, and serve. This may be
topped with a tin of prepared Pie Filling, or sliced fresh Fruit.
Use 5 eggs. Melt 1 (12 ounce) bag Semisweet Chocolate Chips with 1/2 cup Whipping
Cream. Add to batter and beat thoroughly before pouring into Crumb Crust. Bake
as above. Decorate with sweetened Whipped Cream before serving.
Use 1 teaspoon Lemon extract in place of the Almond extract. Add 2 tablespoons
grated Lemon Peel. After pouring the batter into the Crumb Crust, pour over
it a jar of Lemon Curd which has been stirred until smooth. Swirl the Curd slightly
through the batter for a marbled effect. Bake as above. Decorate with sweetened
Whipped Cream before serving.
Drain and squeeze the juice from 2 tins of Crushed Pineapple. Mix the drained
Crushed Pineapple into the batter before pouring into the Crumb Crust. Bake
as above. Before serving, decorate with Pineapple Slices.
Add 2 tablespoons Espresso Powder, 1 teaspoon Cinnamon, 1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
and 1/4 cup Whipping Cream. Use 2 teaspoons Rum flavored extract in place of
the Almond. bake as above. Before serving, decorate with shaved Chocolate and
sweetened Whipped Cream.
You may prepare any of
the above cakes to be individually sized by this method. Line muffin cups with
foil liners. Don't use paper liners or the cakes will stick to them. in the
bottom of each liner place a small round cookie of any flavor you like. Pour
the batter on top of the cookies and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Chill,
remove from foil liners and serve.
2 packets unflavored Carageenan-Based
1/2 cup boiling Water
1 cup Sugar or Artificial Sweetener to equal 1 cup Sugar
3(8 ounce size) packages cream cheese
2(4 serving size) packages Vanilla flavor Instant Pudding Mix
3 1/2 cups Milk
1 cup Cookie Crumbs or chopped Nuts
Dissolve the Jelling product in the Water. In a large mixing bowl, beat together
the cream cheese and sugar or artificial sweetener. Add dissolved Carageenan,
and beat until until smooth. In another bowl, whisk together the Milk and Pudding
Mix. While beating, add the Pudding mixture to the cheese mixture and beat until
smooth. Pour on top of a prepared crumb crust in a 9 inch springform pan and
chill for 8 hours. When you are ready to serve, dip a knife in hot water and
run it around the side of the cake before removing the ring from the pan. Press
the Crumbs or Nuts into the sides of the Cake to decorate.
Omit Sugar or Artificial Sweetener and Milk. Puree 3 packages frozen Strawberries
in Syrup in the blender. Measure 3 1/2 cups of the puree, and use in place of
the Milk. Chill as above and decorate with sweetened Whipped Cream or sliced
Use Chocolate flavor Instant Pudding Mix. Beat 1/3 cup Cocoa powder into the
Cream Cheese. Proceed as above. Decorate with shaved Chocolate
Use Banana flavor Instant Pudding Mix and only 3 cups Milk. In the blender,
whir 3 Bananas with the Milk until smooth. Proceed as above. Decorate the Cake
with Banana slices which have been dipped in Orange Juice to prevent discoloration.