Sunday, June 2, 2013

Cheesecakes 101: Getting to Know Everyone's Favorite Dessert

There's a lot more to cheesecake than just being everyone's favorite dessert. For the benefit of those who may not know what a cheesecake is, it's a type of dessert with a topping made from fresh cheese on a base of sponge, biscuit, or pastry. The topping is usually filled with sweeteners such as sugar or fruit.

Many make the mistake of assuming that cheesecakes come from New York (thanks to the ever so famous New York Cheesecake), but it actually goes further than that. Cheese molds dating around 2000 B.C. that were excavated in the island of Samos in Greece provide evidence that the first cheesecake was probably made here. Although the Greeks have been serving cheesecake long before 230 A.D., the first ever Greek cheesecake recipe was written by Athenaeus around this time.

Perhaps one good thing that came of the Roman conquest was the spread of the cheesecake recipe to the Europeans and later on, to the Americans. Cream cheese is a signature ingredient of all cheesecakes, whose accidental discovery can be credited to a New York dairy farmer. The classic style New York Cheesecake is served without fruit, chocolate, or other sweeteners on top. The secret to its flavor is the extra egg yolks in the cheesecake mix.

There are two basic kinds of cheesecakes - baked and unbaked. Eggs are not used in unbaked cheesecakes, although gelatin can be used instead. A variety of ingredients can also be used for the crust (Oreo's, Corn Flakes, cookies, etc.) although butter mixed with Graham cracker crumbs are most often used.

An easy-to-bake cheesecake starts out with 2 packets of cream cheese mixed in a bowl. Add 2 teaspoons sugar, a can of condensed milk, and beat until you have a smooth and rich texture. Add 2 eggs (one at a time), beat thoroughly, and add sour cream as well as a bit of vanilla and/or lime juice depending on your preference. Pour the mixture on a ready-to-bake crust purchased from a store, and bake at a temperature of 325 degrees Fahrenheit for around 40 minutes.

Each region in the word and even some states in the US add their own twist to the traditional recipe. Chicago adds a bit of sour cream to give the cake a creamier texture; Philadelphia style has a lighter texture and is said to be richer in flavor than NY Cheesecake, mainly because the cake is usually served with chocolate or fruit toppings. Around the world, the ingredients are even more varied. Italians like to use their trademark ricotta cheese, while the Greeks prefer feta. In the UK and Australia, their cheesecakes are usually made with a base of crush biscuits mixed with butter, and topped with fruits.

Over in Asia, flavors include powdered Japanese green tea or matcha, and exotic fruits like lychee and mango. The cakes are also less sweet, and more light and spongy compared to their counterparts. At Obolo Bakeshop, one of Singapore's premier bakeshops, the usual flavors (e.g. Blueberry and New York) are sold but it's the more unique flavors that people line up for. There's Mango Passion, Cookies n Cream, Salted Caramel, and Nutella.

So on the next National Cheesecake Day (celebrated every 30th of July), make sure to grab a slice of your favorite cheesecake!

Cheesecakes in Singapore. Obolo's Cheescakes are a slice of life that melts in your mouth & touches your heart. Obolo produces award winning cheesecakes in Singapore.

0 diner's comment: