It is believed that the first “cheesecake” may have been created on the Greek island of Samos, around 2000 B.C. According to historical texts, cheesecakes were served to athletes during the first Olympic Games held in 776 B.C., on the Isle of Delos. By 1000 A.D., cheesecakes were flourishing throughout Scandinavia and north-western Europe and were introduced to Great Britain and Western Europe by the conquering Roman armies.
From its earliest recorded beginnings to its current iconic status around the world, this creamy cake remains a classic favourite for all age groups because nobody can resist a cake that is made out of cheese, right? Interestingly, cheesecake contains a significant amount of protein, especially when compared to other desserts like cakes or tarts. So it’s actually good for health, says Chef Amit Sharma, co-founder of Mumbai-based dessert café, Love & Cheesecake.
“While one slice of cheesecake contains 400 calories, it is still a healthier choice of dessert in comparison to most other cakes available in India that are made with the cheaper base of whipping cream. Whipping cream is popular in India given its stability, consistency, ease of use and affordable pricing. However, whipping cream is also an artificial non-dairy product and is made of vegetable fat. So you have the option of choosing ready-to-use, whipped topping with its worrisome chemical composition, or full-fat natural dairy cream with its inherent cholesterol and saturated fat. Some of our favourite cheeses to make a perfect cheesecake are Cream Cheese and Mascarpone.
“For our savory cheesecakes, we generally like to use Ricotta, Goat, and Feta.
“Cheesecake is a dessert consisting of a layer of sweetened soft cheese like Mascarpone, cream cheese mixed with cream, sugar, and flavourings. It is usually set on a cracker crumb or pastry base. When it comes to cheesecakes that one can prepare, the possibilities are endless,” says chef Amit, adding, “One can make a layered cake which has two layers of cheesecake and two layers of sponge cake. Other innovations include adding fruit blends, syrups, and coulis (a form of thick sauce made from puréed and strained vegetables or fruits). Or one can add nuts that can be roasted, smoked or candied, fresh fruits, cookie dough, brownie etc. Additionally, candies, brittles, and pralines lend a more premium element to the cheesecake.”
“The inclusion of caramel corn, for instance, can place cheesecake as a summer dessert option, while roasted nuts can signal cooler seasons. Always remember to use full-fat cream cheese, sour cream, and sugar at room temperature to make sure the ingredients blend together better to give you a smoother cheesecake. Don’t over-beat ingredients as it can cause the cheesecake to crack when you bake it. This dessert is a delicious canvas that can be customised based on the taste and preference, so try it on for special occasions to impress your guests,” he adds.
Chocolate Cappuccino Cheesecake
1 cup chocolate wafer crumbs
¼ cup softened butter
2 tbsp granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
24 ounces cream cheese (at room temperature)
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 tbsp whipping cream
1 cup sour cream
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp instant espresso coffee, dissolved in ¼ cup hot water
¼ cup coffee liqueur
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp powdered sugar
2 tbsp coffee liqueur
Combine chocolate wafer crumbs, butter, sugar, and cinnamon, mixing well.
Butter sides and bottom of eight-inch springform pan. Press crumb mixture into pan. Set aside.
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add sugar, mixing until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat at low speed until very smooth. Melt chocolate with cream over boiling water, stirring until smooth. Add to cheese mixture, blending well. Add sour cream, salt, coffee, liqueur, and vanilla extract, beating until smooth. Turn into prepared pan. Bake in center of oven at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes, or until sides are puffed. Center will be soft but will firm up with chilled. Turn oven off; leave the door ajar. Allow cake to cool in oven for 45 minutes.
Cover and chill for 12 hours. Remove sides of the pan.
Whip cream with powdered sugar and liqueur. Garnish cake with mounds of whipped cream and chocolate leaves or chocolate espresso beans (Optional).
Best things to pair with Cheesecake
The best way to know the kind of wine that works with cheesecake is to think of the toppings and flavourings that are used in cheesecake recipes rather than the base. One must also take into consideration the kind of cheesecake you plan to serve- baked, layered or cold. The obvious choice is generally a pairing with wine, but other beverages like beer or liquors are also known to be great combinations.
1 Most sweet wines like a Riesling, Moscato or even a Champagne pair beautifully with a layered cheesecake variety. The creaminess of cheesecake lends itself well to a pairing with the softness of the wine. Sweet red wines generally work with a chocolate cheesecake or a Nutella Cheesecake.
2 Another, less obvious, choice would be a coffee or tea pairing with a cold variety of cheesecake. A berry based cheesecake such as blueberry or strawberry pairs wonderfully with a cup of Earl Grey or Darjeeling since these complement the berries nicely.
3 Lastly, a pairing that’s for the beer drinkers out there — try pairing a nutty pecan praline baked cheesecake with a brown ale. The flavours inherent in beer — caramel, grain, chocolate, fruit, and even baking spices, make it a wonderful partner for whatever post-meal treat you can devise.
Banana split cheesecake
for the crust
3 cups vanilla wafers, crushed
1½ cups roasted peanuts, crushed
1½ cup granulated sugar
8 teaspoons butter, softened
1 pound cream cheese, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
¾ cup sour cream
4 (medium to large) bananas, mashed
Process crust ingredients and pat into bottom of (¾ up side) a 10 inch springform pan. Line outside of pan with foil (shiny side facing out).
To make the filling, in a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and lemon juice, mixing all three together well.
Beat in the eggs. Stir in sour cream and bananas.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pour filling into prepared crust, bake about one hour until light brown on top. Cool completely at room temperature. Chill about 24 hours before serving.
Garnish with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, chopped peanuts and cherries.
Brownie Bottom Cheesecake
½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
4 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened
2¼ cups granulated sugar, divided
¼ cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
24 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup sour cream
Melt butter and chocolate in a three-quart heavy saucepan on very low heat, stirring constantly. Cool. Blend in 1½ cups of the sugar.
Add two of the eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition until blended. Blend in milk and one teaspoon of the vanilla extract.
Mix flour and salt. Add to chocolate mixture, mixing just until blended. Spread evenly onto bottom of greased and floured nine-inch springform pan. Bake at 325 degrees F for 25 minutes.
Mix cream cheese, remaining ¾ cup of sugar and one teaspoon of vanilla extract with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.
Add remaining three eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended.
Blend in sour cream; pour over brownie bottom. (Filling will almost come to the top of the pan.)
Bake at 325 degrees for 55 minutes to one hour or until center is almost set. Run knife or metal spatula around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim of pan.
Refrigerate for four hours or overnight.
Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.
Drizzle with assorted ice cream toppings, if desired.