The best dessert ever!
Cheesecake is a sweet dessert consisting of one or more layers. The main, and thickest layer, consists of a mixture of soft, fresh cheese (typically cream cheese or ricotta), eggs, and sugar; if there is a bottom layer it often consists of a crust or base made from crushed cookies (or digestive biscuits), graham crackers, pastry, or sponge cake. It may be baked or unbaked (usually refrigerated). Cheesecake is usually sweetened with sugar and may be flavored or topped with fruit, whipped cream, nuts, cookies, fruit sauce, and/or chocolate syrup. Cheesecake can be prepared in many flavors, such as strawberry, pumpkin, key lime, chocolate, Oreo, chestnut, or toffee.
Cheesecake with cream
Almost all modern cheesecakes in the United States and Canada use cream cheese; in Italy, cheesecakes use ricotta; Germany, the Netherlands, and Poland use quark. Cheesecakes are most easily baked in a leak-proof springform pan, often paired with a water bath to more evenly distribute the heat. Because of the high density of most cheesecakes, they continue baking for some time after removal from an oven.
The early Greeks considered it a cake. Some modern authors point to the presence of many eggs, the sole source of leavening, as proof that it is a torte. Still others claim that the separate crust, the soft filling, and the absence of flour prove that it is a custard pie.
Cheesecakes can be broadly categorized into two basic types: baked and unbaked. Each comes in a variety of styles determined by region:
- South Africa
- South Africa has many different varieties of cheesecake. One popular variant is made with whipped cream, cream cheese, gelatine for the filling, and a buttered digestive biscuit crust. It is not baked, and is sometimes made with Amarula liqueur. This variant is very similar to British cheesecake. This cheesecake is more common in British South African communities.
Asian-style cheesecake flavors include matcha (powdered Japanese green tea), lychee, and mango. Asian-style cheesecakes are also lighter in flavor and are sometimes light and spongy in texture. Compared to its counterparts, Asian cheesecake is also considerably less sweet.
- Japanese-style cheesecake relies upon the emulsification of cornstarch and eggs to make a smooth flan-like texture and almost plasticine appearance.
Australian cheesecakes are more commonly unbaked. Common flavors include passionfruit, chocolate, raspberry, lemon, caramel, and vanilla.
German-style cheesecake (Käsekuchen) uses quark
- Bulgarian-style cheesecake uses cream cheese in a New York–style filling and smetana for a top layer. Ground nuts are often added to the crust mixture.
- French-style cheesecakes are very light, feature gelatin as a binding ingredient, and are typically only 3 to 5 cm (1 to 2 inches) high. This variety gets its light texture and flavor from Neufchâtel cheese.
- German-style cheesecake (Käsekuchen, Quarkkuchen, Matzkuchen; Topfenkuchen in Austria) uses Quark (dairy product) and a freshly made dough, not Graham crackers. The Käsesahnetorte(cheese cream tart) adds cream and is not baked. This recipe is sometimes translated into English using rennet-based cottage cheese, but a true Quarkkuchen uses quark cheese made from sour milk. Quark is used for the famous German or Bavarian baked cheesecake.
- In Greece the cheese cake has been made since antiquity and is now traditionally made using mizithra. There are many regional variants of the mizithropita.
- Ancient 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. Italian-style cheesecake uses ricotta or mascarpone cheese, sugar, vanilla extract, and sometimes barley flakes. This type of cheesecake is typically drier than American styles. Small bits of candied fruit are often added.
- The Netherlands and Belgium
- Dutch/Belgian-style cheesecakes are typically flavored with fruit or melted bittersweet chocolate, are generally made with quark, and are not baked. Belgian cheesecake also includes a speculaas crust (speculaas is a traditional Dutch-Belgian biscuit).
- Polish sernik (cheesecake), one of the most popular desserts in Poland, is made primarily using twaróg, a type of fresh cheese.
- Swedish-style cheesecake differs greatly from other cheesecakes. 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. 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.
- United Kingdom and Ireland
- In the United Kingdom and Ireland, cheesecake is typically made with a base of crushed, buttered biscuits and often topped with a fruit compote. The most common commercial varieties are black cherry, blackcurrant, strawberry, passionfruit, raspberry, and lemon curd. The usual filling is a mixture of cream cheese, sugar, and cream and it is not baked, but refrigerated. Gelatine (sometimes in the form of fruit-flavored dessert jelly) may also be mixed in with the cheese/cream mixture to keep the filling firm. Variations are common, and include banoffee, coffee, tea, chocolate, Irish cream, white chocolate, and marshmallow flavors. Savory smoked salmon cheesecake is made in Scotland.