Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Story Behind Cheesecake

In 1872, William Lawrence from Chester, NY, along with other dairymen, came up with a way of making an "un-ripened cheese that is heavier and creamier by accident, actually looking for a way to recreate the soft, French cheese, Neufchatel.  Lawrence distributed the cheese in foil, becoming a brand that is familiarly recognized as "Philadelphia". Later on in 1912, James Kraft invented a form of this cream cheese, but pasteurized it- this is now the most commonly used cheese for cheesecake.

Almost all modern cheesecakes in the United States use cream cheese; in Italy, cheesecakes use ricotta; Germany and Poland use quark cheese. Cheesecakes are most easily baked in a Springform pan.
The type of cheese affects not only the texture and taste, but also the ability to incorporate certain types of ingredients. When cheesecake batter is too thin, many cheesecakes will not be structurally sound and fall apart at the table. One way to get around this is to use unflavored gelatin or a little cornstarch beaten with the eggs.

A common difficulty with baking cheesecakes is its tendency to “crack” when cooled. This is due to the coagulation of the beaten eggs in its batter. There are various methods to prevent this. One method is to bake the cheesecake in a hot water bath to ensure even heating. Other methods include blending a little cornstarch into the batter or baking the cheesecake at a lower temperature and slow cooling it in the oven, turned off, with the door ajar. If these methods fail, a common practice is to cover the top of the cheesecake with toppings such as fruit, whipped cream, or cookie crumbs.

Banana Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup margarine, melted
1/4 cup sugar
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons banana extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Caramel Topping for drizzling

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar, and melted margarine.  Press into the bottom of a 9" springform pan.
  • In another bowl, mix together the cream cheese and 3/4 cup sugar until smooth.  Blend in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla, banana extract and mashed banana.  Pour into the prepared crust.
  • Bake for 50 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the center is set.  Cool, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  • Drizzle Caramel topping on and garnish with fresh bananas, if desired.

No comments: