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Sunday
Apr272008

Little Cheesequakes: A Cheesecake FAQ and a Daring Bakers Challenge

Little Cheesequakes
It's that time of month again--that magical moment before rent is due, and when it's time for a Daring Bakers Challenge, a monthly online baking event. The Cakespy crew always awaits this moment with bated breath: it's always such a fun opportunity to misbehave. This month, the challenge was Cheesecake Pops, a recipe chosen by Elle and Deborah, from the aptly titled Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor. What could be cuter (or more decadent) than bite sized cheesecakes, dipped in chocolate and served on a stick? How 'bout mini cheesecakes shaped like slices of "big" cheesecake? See above for our offering. While we offer our apologies for the lack of chocolate dipping, we believe we've more than made up for this omission through cuteness--it has a mini graham cracker crust! And a dollop of faux-whipped cream (made of a daub of cake frosting)! And even a mini marzipan strawberry with glaze!


But while going through the various steps of baking a cheesecake, letting bite-sized pieces freeze, and shaping our little cheese bites and then impaling them, we began to ponder the subject of cheesecake, that humble confection which has been tantalizing palates since ancient Greek times and which has been cited as the downfall of many a diet. What's going on with this cake--or is it a pie? And so, in an effort to better inform you on this treat, we took some time to address some important questions about cheesecake:
CHEESECAKE FAQ
Question: Is cheesecake a pie, or a cake?
Answer: Ah, the age-old question. On the one hand, its name speaks for itself--cheesecake. However, there is strong evidence on the pie side: while cakes rise, the cheesecake does not; also, cheesecakes often have a decidedly pie-reminiscent crust. Recently in a heated argument over the subject, a Cakespy acquaintance phoned the Cheesecake Factory Headquarters to inquire on the subject; they say cake. But the evidence to the contrary still bugs us; perhaps this is just a mystery never meant to be solved, or perhaps the true answer will come to us as a vision while on a soulful pilgrimage through the desert.

Marbled Cheesecakes from Junior'sQ: Can I use any type of cheese in cheesecake?
A: Cream cheese, Neuchâtel and Ricotta are probably the most common types of cheese used, for their soft texture and high level of malleability. Cream Cheese is particularly popular because its low water and high fat content tends to yield a dense, smooth and creamy result. Quark and Mascarpone versions also exist, as well as soft farmer's cheeses in Pennsylvania Dutch country. While we wouldn't say it's impossible to use other types of cheese, our stomachs tend to curdle (just a little dairy humor) when considering a Swiss or Cheddar cheesecake.

A: What is New York Cheesecake?
A: New York-style cheesecake, made famous by establishments such as Junior's in Brooklyn, is a dairy-loaded confection: its filling consists of heavy cream, cream cheese, eggs, and sometimes sour cream too: the result is just about the densest, creamiest, dreamiest cheesecake you'll ever find. The New York Cheesecake is most frequently, but not always, made using a springform pan; most versions have a graham cracker crust, but of course Junior's famous cheesecake has a sponge cake layer.

 

Organic Honey Cheesecake from Eat LocalQ: I have a problem really like wine. Any suggestions for pairing wine with cheesecake?

A: According to classicwines.com, you should seek out two traits: Moderate sweetness and some sort of acidity or fizziness that can cut through the heaviness of the flavor and prepare your palate for the next bite. To that end, Moscato d'Asti is perfect: Sweet, rich with the aromas of stone fruits, (like peaches and nectarines) and just the slightest bit fizzy, which cuts through the richness of the cake perfectly. You can also go with a nice German Riesling, which will have both enough sweetness and acidity to make for a great match. For more adventurous palates, Vouvray works beautifully, as does Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise. And don't forget about Prosecco, which is almost always an excellent partner for desserts of this sort.

Pumpkin CheesecakeQ: My cheesecake cracked on top! Do I have to throw it away?
A: On the contrary. Cracked cheesecakes are fairly common--it is often attributed to over-beaten eggs. However, don't despair! Just take a hot knife to the surface and make like a sculptor to redistribute the cake to smooth the cracks. If so moved, this is a great chance to get artistic with your cake, perhaps creating lovely whirls or design elements to the surface. If still lacking a little flair, perhaps you could consider adding a sweet topping in the likeness of a celebrity visage to cover a multitude of cheesecake sins.

Mini Cheesecakes, Sweet Farm, BrooklynQ: Will cheesecake make me fat?
A: No doubt about it, cheesecake is delicious--but in all its rich, creamy and decadent glory, it is not what one might call a low-cal food. However--may we preach for a moment?-- this ought not be a reason to deprive yourself. Fact is, anything can make you gain weight--from carrots to rice cakes to pizza and chips, depending on how much you eat and how active (or inactive) the lifestyle you lead. It's our belief that while it's smart to enjoy rich foods in moderation, it's not at all smart to avoid them entirely if you love them--you'll just keep on eating other foods to compensate, and will end up miserable! So just enjoy your cheesecake!*

 

*In moderation. As an example of how not to eat cheesecake, consider the example of professional eater Sonya Thomas, who holds the World Record for cheesecake eating, having put away 11 pounds of cheesecake in a mere 9 minutes.

More Heart CheesecakesQ: I'm lactose intolerant / vegan / or otherwise can't or won't eat dairy. Whaddya have to say about that?
A: Go soy! Soft tofu varieties and Tofu cream chees, combined with soy milk or creamer, yield a silky-smooth and absolutely decadent result; even nonvegans may find they don't miss the dairy! This one looks pretty awesome to us.

Q: I like cheesecake so much better the day after it's made! Is there something wrong with me?
A: On the contrary. Cheesecake flavors do tend to develop after baking, making the smooth, creamy cheese blossom on the taste buds once the flavors have had some time to set (though truly, we suspect fairies or elves might play a part too). Our serving suggestion? Make your cheesecake, keep it in the fridge overnight, then leave it at room temperature for an hour or two before serving. Sublime.

Q: I just did a Google search on Cheesecake and came up with pictures of scantily clad girls. What gives?
A: We see you've stumbled upon a classic pinup genre of photography. Here's the story: The "Cheesecake Pose" is said to have gotten its name in 1915 when a newspaper photographer named George Miller noticed a visiting Russian diva, Elvira Amazar, just as she was debarking her ship in New York. Miller asked the opera singer to hike up her skirt a little for the sake of the picture. Later, the photographer's editor, something of a gourmet, is supposed to have exclaimed, "Why, this is better than cheesecake!". So there you go.

 

 

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Reader Comments (84)

Just love your mini cheesecakes wedges :)

Rosie x

April 28 | Unregistered CommenterRosie

Your mini slice is is just perfect, with the crust and all! Great idea!!

Uh Leave it to you to have the perfect challenge! This was going to be my first DB challenge but I was having awful results and it was a total mess ( i think my heart was not in it) so I ended up saying forget buying mass amounts of more cheese and what not I give up and will sit this one out :O( I knew I could count on you to have it turn out perfect though.... I am def jealous if you cant tell!

April 28 | Unregistered CommenterSweet Sins

Wonderful! I love that cute lollipop! Very well done!

Cheers,

Rosa

I agree w/previous comment that they crack as they cool, not b/c of overbeaten eggs, which brings me to my second point: I think they do rise, since the finished cake is much airier than the raw batter.

April 28 | Unregistered Commenterredman

I really love your idea with the miniature size cheesecakes. How cute!

I know somebody mentioned this, but cheesecakes are actually a form of "baked custard." And I've also learned that cheesecakes can rise a lot if you beat the mixture (with the eggs) a long time. Eventually though they sink back down.

April 28 | Unregistered CommenterTanya

The cheesecake pose so made me giggle on a Monday morning (much needed)! I have a serious weakness for cheesecake (of the vegan variety of course)... but 11 lbs in 9 min?!? Wow.
And I love your interpretation of the daring baker's challenge. Especially the cute little strawberry :-)

April 28 | Unregistered CommenterVegan_Noodle

What an adorable mini cheesecake! I love the touch of the diminutive strawberry ;)

April 28 | Unregistered Commentermarias23

No way, those pops are way too cute!

Thanks for the in-depth cheesecake FAQ, too, it was very interesting. I had never heard of the "cheesecake pose" before! Haha

April 28 | Unregistered CommenterHannah

Aw, the marzipan strawberry is adorable!

Loads of fun reading your 'Cheesecake FAQs'! Although, I prefer a shortbread-like crust to a graham cracker crust. I haven't tried it with a spongecake base, so I can't say I don't prefer it.

Christina ~ http://runningfoodie.blogspot.com/" REL="nofollow">She Runs, She Eats

April 28 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

What a clever idea! and love your cheesecake facts and questions!

April 28 | Unregistered CommenterKelly-Jane

The mini cheesecakes are super cute ;) love them and am a bit scared of that cheesecake pose!

April 28 | Unregistered CommenterGolightly

i now feel i am a cheesecake expert. many thanks. my favorite new fact however, is the tale of the cheesecake pose. what a great story!

hmph, you learn something new every day!
Very interesting!

April 28 | Unregistered CommenterJaimee

I freakin hate you cakespy! All of your sweets look so damn good! You got me craving cheesecake now!!! gahhh!

April 28 | Unregistered CommenterLina

Too cute! I had a similar idea but my execution wasn't nearly as cute as yours.

April 28 | Unregistered CommenterTracy

Cakespy how do you manage to do MAGIC
all the time!! They are awesome!!
You have been tagged by me.. do check it out !!

You are so hysterical~ and you managed to discuss wine and cheesecake in the same post. You are a girl. after. my. heart.
Absolutely love the miniaturized version of a cheesecake. And yes, I declare you get MAJOR props and forgiveness for not dipping them in chocolate. I of course only have any real authority in my own mind/ world.

April 29 | Unregistered CommenterTempered Woman

Cakespy, there's nothing I could add that hasn't already been said.

Your cheesecake on a steeek looks so delectable! It is the one dessert I can't be trusted with.

April 29 | Unregistered CommenterMarysol

Recipegirl: Thanks! The strawberry really is the icing on the cake--er, pie--er, custard, huh? :-)

Dagmar: Thanks so much!

KayKat: They were pretty good...but the story makes the experience that much richer!

Karen: Nope, that is not wrong. Get drivin'!

Amy: Yeah, I was gonna ask if it was OK to put that up... ;-) Glad you enjoyed the pops!! We love a shortcut but when there's cuteness involved we will pursue it! :-)

Rosie: Thanks! :-)

Proud Italian Cook: Isn't it precious? We loved the mini crust!

Sweet sins: Lots of cheese is not a bad thing...with sugar, even better! Yours sound awesome!

Rosa's Yummy: Thanks so much! Yours look awesome too!

Redman: Yes, we found some conflicting data--I think that while they rise, it's just not quite to the degree that cakes do. I think it's interesting what Tanya says below too--the more beaten the eggs, the more it rises--and then when it sinks after baking it cracks. Interesting, these little culinary things, aren't they? Either way, a cracked cheesecake doesn't ruin a good time! :-)

Vegan Noodle: Glad you enjoyed! Mr. CS and I have had and enjoyed vegan cheesecake too. It's dense and dreamy. ;-)

Tanya: I still think cheesecakes might need their own genre. "Delicious cheesey mass" perhaps!? Thanks for the insight too about the rising and falling--that makes total sense!

Marias: Thanks! That little berry is rather diminutive, isn't it?

Hannah: See? You learn something new every day!!

Christina: I personally like the more crackery crust but that particular type is very popular!

Kelly-Jane: Thanks, glad you enjoyed!

Golightly: I'm a bit scared too.

Octavine: Some cheesecake pose illustrations please!?

Jaimee: Thanks! Glad you enjoyed!

Tracy: Thanks! I think yours are super cute!

Swati: Magic is inevitable when you chase cuteness like we do. Thanks!

Tempered woman: Wine and dessert--when done right--is so wonderful! When done badly--well, you can just tell. Glad you enjoyed!!

Marysol: Oooh, a cheesecake junkie! Do you go for plain or something exotic?

April 29 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

I love cheesecake! And the mini-pop is so cute! I've had cream cheese on my mind too recently, because I made muffins with cream cheese. : )

April 29 | Unregistered CommenterAnali

those mini cheesecake slices..amazing they look wonderful!! and I loved all the little FaQs!!! Great job and wonderful info!

April 29 | Unregistered CommenterSweetDesigns

Oh, this is just too much! Love, LOVE the tiny cheesecake slice, really! And the Q&A had me laughing out loud, and I learned a few things! :)

April 29 | Unregistered CommenterLyB

What a wonderful cheesecake write up! Thanks.

Great FAQ!
Cute slice!

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