This is almost like dessert week in this column and although I disdain “theme” weeks, I must admit. I kind of like this. All the research, the testing and the eating. Especially the eating.
Today’s feature is cheesecake. I love cheesecake. From New York Style Cheesecake to Pittsburgh’s famous Cheesecake Kludys to pin-up girl cheesecake calendars.
Cheesecake dates back to ancient Greece when the Greek physician, a gastrologist named Aegimus wrote a cookbook devoted entirely to the art of making cheesecake. But that’s ancient history. Actually cheesecake is not really cake at all. It’s more a cheese and egg custard.
There are a few ways to bake a cheesecake, the most common beating all the ingredients together and pouring the filling in to a graham cracker crust. New York style is usually baked in a spring form pan using a shortbread crust. New York Style is unique because it’s baked at 500 degrees the first 15 minutes, then at 200 degrees for the next hour.
But ideas for cheesecakes have dramatically evolved over the years. Fudge, lemon curd, coconut, nuts, even liquor have found themselves in cheesecake. It’s a totally different cheesecake out there these days. Here’s a twist on cheesecake that may surprise you.
Green Tea Cheesecake
1 ½ Cups Puffed Rice Cereal
2 Tbs. Sugar
¼ Cup Melted Butter
24 Oz. Cream Cheese
16 Oz. Sour Cream
1 ½ Cups Sugar
2 Tsp. Cornstarch
2 Tbs. Green Tea Powder
Crush the cereal and combine with the sugar and melted butter, mixing well.
Coat the mixture evenly on the bottom of a deep-dish pie pan.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a food processor pulse the cream cheese until fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until well mixed. Pour filling in to crust and bake for 1 hour or until surface is browned.
The sexiest of all the cheesecakes in all the world is a pretty recent concoction. Only around since the 1970’s, Tiramisu is the quintessential decadent cheesecake using sweet marscapone cheese instead of cream cheese.
“Tiramisu” in Italian literally means, “This is freakin’ awesome cheesecake”. Much easier to do than you may think, give it a shot and dazzle your family and friends.
1 Pkg. Pecan Sandies
1/3 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Marsala Wine
½ Cup Heavy Cream
2 Tsp. Vanilla
12 Oz. Marscapone Cheese
4 Oz. Semi-sweet Chocolate, Shaved
1 Tbs. Dutch Cocoa Powder
Soak the Sandies in a bowl of Frangelico for 15 minutes.
In a double boiler, beat together the eggs, sugar and wine. Fold in the marscapone cheese and combine well. Remove from heat.
In a separate bowl beat the cream and vanilla together. Fold in to cheese mixture.
Line a serving dish with soaked Sandies, the bottom and the sides. Pour cheese mixture in to serving dish and smooth out. Sprinkle chocolate shavings over top and dust with cocoa powder. Refrigerate for an hour or so before serving.
The ancient Roman Cato the Elder, not to be confused with Inspector Clouseau’s man servant Cato the inept secret attacker, wrote in his cheesecake recipe,
“When your soul is listless, wan and weary and you know what not to do; You need a lift, a comfort zone, to sink and curl into…
“I nearly purred in complete bliss, as it passed my eager lips, as it crept into my hungry heart, and settled gently on my hips.”
Say cheese everybody.