Recently, I ate at the Cheesecake Factory for the first time in many years. Meals are pretty good, desserts spectacular. This past weekend I was in Seattle again and attempted to eat there. I was quoted a 2-hour wait. While I like the place, no restaurant is worth a 2-hour wait. Even the Cheesecake Factory cheesecake isn’t worth a 2-hour wait.
If you are one of those who has always believed that cheesecakes are actually ‘cheese’ cakes, then you have loved a lie all your life. Also, if every time you hear the word ‘cheesecake’ and immediately think about the one and only New York Cheesecake, you will be surprised to find out that there are several types of cheesecakes available, the majority of which have originated from different countries and cities.
Cheesecake is undoubtedly one of the oldest and most famous desserts to-date that is made from a common dairy product called cheese. Different types of cheesecakes are made from a variety of cheeses including mascarpone, ricotta, cream cheese, and Philadelphia, to name a few. Other ingredients that are common to all types of cheesecakes include eggs, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla extract, and heavy cream. This is one of the main reasons why you will find such a huge variety of cheesecakes anywhere you go because the number of recipes you can create with these basic ingredients is simply unlimited.
Table of Contents
- The Evolution of Cheesecake
- The Signature Ingredient
- Types of Cheesecakes
The Evolution of Cheesecake
You may want to grab a slice of a creamy cheesecake as you read all about its evolution and history because it will actually leave you craving for one!
While it is typically assumed that the Universal favorite dessert Cheesecake has originated from New York, it actually goes back to Ancient Greece some 4000 years ago. The first cheesecake is believed to have been created on the Greek Island of Samos where it was considered an excellent source of energy.
Historians from the past were reported to have said that cheesecake was served to athletes for its high energy content during the First Olympic Games held in 776 B.C. Soon enough, cheesecake began to be recognized as THE wedding cake where many Greek brides and grooms would opt for cheesecake at their wedding.
Back then, the key ingredients used to make the perfect cheesecake included cheese, honey, wheat, and flour until interesting developments in the world of cheesecake led to different ingredients being used in a variety of different cheesecakes.
The Signature Ingredient
As if it’s not obvious already, the addition of ‘cream cheese’ to the traditional cheesecake is what led to its ultimate popularity. This signature ingredient was believed to be an American addition, after which cream cheese became a staple ingredient in the United States and several other places across the globe.
The production of cream cheese also has quite a fascinating history behind it. Although it was invented by the American dairy farmer called William Lawrence, he actually did it accidentally. The ‘accident’ happened when he was trying to replicate the French cheese Neuchatel but unintentionally ended up creating cream cheese.
Three years later, the very same cream cheese began to be sold as the Philadelphia Cream Cheese, a super famous brand in today’s time.
Types of Cheesecakes
Here are some of the most spectacular types of cheesecakes from all around the world that will actually end up tantalizing your tastebuds.
New York Cheesecake
According to popular belief, there is New York cheesecake, and then there is a list of all other types of cheesecake. It is easily the most cherished and popular cheesecake among all others because of its creamy richness and an unbelievably smooth texture. You can expect a typical New York Style Cheesecake to be super rich, owing to its ultra-smooth, creamy and dense consistency.
It is usually tall with a flat top and a satin-like texture. Some of its key ingredients include cream cheese, egg yolks, eggs, sugar, and heavy cream. You can also add a bit of lemon to give it that freshness and a slight tangy kick of flavor. Some New York cheesecakes also use sour cream as a key ingredient in the filling which is believed to make the cheesecake more resilient to freezing than the ones using heavy cream.
The best way to create that perfectly creamy and dense New York cheesecake is to bake it at a high temperature for a few minutes and then lower the temperature so that the filling stays creamy from the inside. The crust of this cheesecake is usually made of graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter while the filling consists of sugar, egg yolks, cream cheese, heavy cream or sour cream, and eggs.
Philadelphia Style Cheesecake
Also called the “Philly Cheesecake”, the Philadelphia Style Cheesecake is believed to be a mythical cake with a lot more flavor and a super light texture.
Compared to the more popular New York-style cheesecake, this consists of a deeper flavor and a smoother and airy texture.
This incredible cheesecake goes as far back as Ancient Greece, after which it created quite a wave in medieval England followed by Colonial America.
Much to anyone’s surprise or confusion, this cheesecake doesn’t have anything to do with the city, Philadelphia. According to experts, when talking about the Philadelphia style cheesecake, it is a reference to the cheesecake version marketed by the Philadelphia cream cheese brand.
So, a key ingredient used in this delicious cheesecake is, of course, the Philadelphia cream cheese in the main filling. Much like the New York-style cheesecake, this also makes use of the basic ideal combination of melted butter and digestive biscuits for its base.
Chicago Style Cheesecake
This is a baked cheesecake that is relatively fluffier in its texture compared to several other types of cheesecakes. It consists of a super soft, moist, and creamy filling texture on the inside and is slightly firm from the outside.
While the filling typically uses the standard cream cheese, the crust of this cheesecake is slightly different from other types. The crust is most commonly made from crushed shortbread which is then mixed with butter, sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and all-purpose flour. The filling is usually a mixture of cream cheese, whole eggs, egg yolks, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla extract.
Roman Style Cheesecake
Also called “Savillum”, the Roman Style Cheesecake is one of the famous Roman dishes whose recipe was found in the De Agri Cultura, which is one of the earliest known forms of Roman prose. It was written by Cato De Elder, a Roman politician who was known for his love of country life.
This cheesecake doesn’t usually contain a crust at the bottom, and the filling is basically a batter made of flour, eggs, honey, and fresh ricotta or farmer’s cheese.
Once the cheesecake is done baking, it is topped with a spice called ‘poppy seeds’ which is a key and well-known ingredient in the Roman Cuisine.
Fascinatingly, Romans eat this cheesecake as a part of secunda mesa (dessert), and it is also their most favorite and highly preferred sweets.
Swedish Style Cheesecake
As the name suggests, this cheesecake originated from Sweden and is really unique among all other cheesecakes. One of the most distinctive features of this cheesecake is that it is not layered and is traditionally served with whipped cream and jam.
Another interesting thing about this cheesecake is that it is made by adding rennet to the milk after which the casein is allowed to coagulate. The cheesecake is baked in the oven at a moderate temperature and then served warm.
As delicious and different as the Swedish Style Cheesecake is, the process of curdling the milk makes the technique a little more complex, which is why some alternate recipes include the use of cottage cheese to have the same cheesecake texture.
This is the most popular type of cheesecake among most vegans and people with non-dairy food preferences. Because they are entirely different from the traditional kinds of cheesecakes, Vegan cheesecakes are often referred to as “So-called cheesecakes”.
They contain a delicious filling that is made from soaked and softened cashew nuts that are then blended with coconut milk, creating a rich, creamy batter. Other variations of this cheesecake are also made using silken tofu which is an ingredient that works like magic in blended and creamy foods.
In order to make it taste like the traditional, regular cheesecake, some people also add in a bit of citrus to give it that sour, tangy flavor.
The styles of crust can also vary from using digestive biscuits to graham crackers and even different kinds of cookies.
Japanese ‘Cotton’ Cheesecake
As unbelievable as it may sound, Japanese Cotton Cheesecake is actually cotton-soft due to its super light and airy cloud-like texture. This incredibly rich and soft consistency is achieved using thick and glossy egg whites, which are folded into the cheesecake batter.
This cheesecake often ends up looking like a wobbly soufflé, hence giving it another common name called “Soufflé Cheesecake” in Japan.
It consists of a lush, cloudy texture that doesn’t stick to the roof of your mouth at all. The egg whites in this cheesecake that are beaten till they form stiff peaks and then folded into the batter are perhaps its key ingredient and technique that gives the cheesecake its richness and softness.
Interestingly though, the Japanese Cotton Cheesecake has quite a fascinating history to it. Since cheese isn’t exactly a staple ingredient in Japanese cuisine, the creation of this cheesecake was met with a lot of surprise and wonder. Basically, according to historic beliefs, the craze for cheesecakes started in Japan after World War II where a number of Americans wished to cook their favorite foods that represented American cuisine.
This led to a large number of imports of American products into Japan, especially cream cheese. And then naturally, the Japanese were highly fascinated by these exotic imported products and their interest significantly grew in American food, resulting in the incredible Japanese Cotton Cheesecake.
As the name aptly suggests, this type of cheesecake doesn’t involve any baking or cooking. This is best for days when you crave a delicious cheesecake but don’t want to spend all day in the hot kitchen, beating the sweltering weather.
The no-bake cheesecake is believed to contain a very similar kind of a texture that is also super smooth as long as the cream cheese is properly mixed with other ingredients and is allowed to fully soften.
Compared to a baked cheesecake, a no-bake cheesecake will have less creamy centers or firm tops and also less puffy and grainy texture around the edges.
A defining feature or characteristic about these cheesecakes is that they don’t contain eggs, and for obvious reasons, too. In order to ensure a soft and delicate end-result, no-bake cheesecakes often use a cream cheese filling that has gelatin in it. In other variations, they are made with condensed milk and even with sour cream or whipped cream to give it that rich, creamy consistency.
Since this type of cheesecake doesn’t hold well at room temperatures, it is essential to refrigerate them for a number of hours until they are smooth and solid.
While one may think that the cheesecake isn’t really a part of Italian cuisine, it has actually been a staple since ancient Roman times. The Ricotta Cheesecake is an Italian-cheesecake that uses ricotta cheese as its starbase ingredient. This type of cheese produces a drier and less creamy cheesecake that may often contain a slightly granular texture. However, many Italians mix the ricotta cheese with a little milk to produce a wonderful, rich, creamy texture.
An important thing to consider here is that if you use fresh, home-made ricotta to make this cheesecake, it will result in an amazing texture and taste, as compared to when making it with regular, store-bought ricotta cheese.
Interestingly, the Ricotta cheesecake is also commonly called “Ricotta Pie” simply because it uses this particular cheese as a part of Italian tradition.
A ‘Classic’ or ‘regular’ cheesecake typically uses a water bath over moderate oven heating temperatures. This is also one of the most common types of cheesecakes that can be found anywhere around the world and is often compared with a New York Style cheesecake.
An identifying feature of this kind of cheesecake is that the ratio of other ingredients to the cheese base is slightly greater, for example, heavy cream or sour cream. This implies that unlike other cheesecakes, cream cheese may not be the key ingredient used in the base of the Classic
In France, for example, the classic cheesecake often uses a base of mascarpone, chevre, or Neufchatel cheese instead of a pure cream cheese base. And in Italy, the most common choice of cheese for the base is mascarpone cheese.
The fact that it uses a water bath baking technique makes it come out with deeply browned edges as well as a puffier and denser cheesecake texture. You will also find a simple graham cracker crust in most classic, regular cheesecakes, which is the most “classic” aspect of this cheesecake.
Cheesecakes are the ideal, classic sweet dessert that suits every event and occasion, but did you know there is a whole other avenue to explore when it comes to the mighty cheesecake?
Ever had a Savory cheesecake? Probably not. Well, it is about time you had one because savory cheesecakes are going to leave you mesmerized. And also, they are a great way to throw your guests a massive curveball!
The thought of a savory cheesecake may come off as strangely weird; however, they make some of the most delicious appetizers and first course for any party or a lovely sit-down dinner.
You’ll be surprised to know even with savory cheesecakes, you have baked or no-baked and with crust or without the crust. However, baked and crusted savory cheesecakes are the most popular choice among many people.
The crust or base of this delicious cheesecake is typically made of panko crumbs, breadcrumbs, or even cracker crumbs like herbed wafers or butter crackers. You can even have a half-and-half base of crumbled crackers with grated parmesan cheese or chopped pecan nuts to give it that extra flavor boost.
The filling, on the other hand, is often made with eggs, cream cheese, a blend of other cheeses like blue cheese or Gouda cheese, eggs, garlic, caramelized onions, additional seasonings like cumin, paprika, etc. However, this is just a basic filling for this cheesecake. Otherwise, the sky is the limit.
Is your mouth already watering at the sight of these delicious and amazing cheesecakes? Make sure to try each of them before picking your favorite!