Cake and cheese. Perhaps two of the most loved delicacies in the entire foodie hemisphere. Put them together and you get a creamy, luscious sweet treat that is enjoyed by millions of fans the world over. I don’t know about you, but I think cheesecake has got to be up there as one of the greatest desserts ever created.
Whenever I make a cheesecake, it always seems to be a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Serve this bad boy up anytime, anywhere, and I bet there will be plenty of grinning faces queuing up for a slice of your tasty creation.
If you have never made a cheesecake before, I definitely suggest you give it a shot. It’s probably not as hard to make as you might first imagine. You might be surprised to learn you can whip up a delicious cheesecake with six ingredients, or less, depending on the recipe you choose.
In honor of this mouth-water dessert, I want to take a break from cheesecake troubleshooting and take a look at its origins, as well as the main reason why we think Cheesecake is so damn delicious!
The Origins of Cheesecake
Since it’s one of the most popular sweet treats among Americans, you would be excused for assuming that cheesecake was invented by a New Yorker.
It definitely wasn’t though! So, where did cheesecake originate then?
The oldest written recipe for it dates back to 230 B.C, although “cheesecake” had been doing the rounds 2000 years earlier. In fact, the origins of its creation go back 4000 years to a dish first created in ancient Greece.The first cheesecake (although basic and very different from the modern dessert we know and love) may have originated on the Greek island of Samos, based on the cheese molds excavated there.
Ancient Greeks considered it a good energy source given the amount of dairy, honey and fat in it. A basic cheesecake version made with wheat flour, honey and cheese was served to athletes competing in the first Olympic games in 776 B.C, and even used as a wedding cake.
Invading Romans added eggs and crushed cheese (instead of pounded cheese), and baked their libuma under a hot brick. Marcos Cato recorded the first Italian cheesecake recipe in the first century B.C.
From here the concept traveled throughout Europe, and the great age of cheesecake began. The first modern cookbook printed in 1545 described it as a flour-based dessert.
Americans are credited with adding cream cheese to old recipes, although cheesecake has always been made with real cheese. Interestingly credit goes to a New York farmer who accidentally invented cream cheese in 1872. Cheese. Cream cheese companies and deli chefs have provided us with the modern avatar that we cherish and relish with delight.
Why is cheesecake so good?
Cheesecake has been a firm favorite the world over for thousands of years, and at Mom’s Baking Co, we are no exception. Cheesecake is one of our favorite desserts, hands down.
So how has this simple delicacy gone on to become such a popular dessert? Why is cheesecake so good?
Here are a few reasons I think this might just be one of the best desserts ever invented.
There are endless types and flavors
Cheesecake, much like cookies and cakes, offers numerous flavors and variations. Some cheesecakes require only five ingredients and an hour to make, others can demand a larger amount of ingredients and many hours to make.
Cheesecakes come in two categories – baked and no-bake. Within these classifications, you have almost unlimited variations of both. From the heavy New York style and Philadelphia cheesecake to the Spanish Basque burnt and the spongy Japanese cheesecake, you can make the type you fancy.
You can change the flavors of the custard or fill with fruit purees, different soft cheese combos, chocolate, fruit curd and more. The options are endless and limited only by your imagination.
Want a banana and peanut butter cheesecake or a blueberry mascarpone cheese version? There’s definitely a recipe for that.
What can I say about the crusts? The base or foundation of this creamy and velvety dish can be made in different ways from biscuits, crackers, kinder, oreo, cookie and pastry crusts.
Which type is the most popular?
There are no hard and fast statistics on the amount of cheesecake eaten by the public but New York-style seems to be the most popular type of cheesecake.
Strawberry cheesecake comes a distant second. Lemon, chocolate, and blueberry were well received by cheesecake lovers. An Oreo cheesecake always goes down well with sweet-tooth lovers. Pumpkin has also become a trendy flavor to try.
The delicate balance of textures
So, what goes into a cheesecake exactly?
Good quality cream cheese is obviously the main ingredient that makes this dessert taste so good.
You then add full cream or sour cream and sugar. Eggs and flour (some recipes) go into a baked version, while recipes for unbaked cheesecakes call for gelatin or its plant version (agar-agar).
You need a good crust base to support your dessert. From graham crackers and crushed cookies to pastry base, you have quite a few options.
The base is set or prebaked and the batter is poured into it. It is then baked or chilled to set as your recipe demands of it.
No-bakes are easier and quicker to make, while the baked ones need the additional chilling time to set properly.
We enjoy numerous flavors and varieties of cheesecake today. But have you ever wondered which baking genius invented this delicacy?
It’s surprisingly easy to make!
All this flavor talk is making you hungry for cheesecake, isn’t it? So, go ahead and make one.
Don’t let those cheesecake haters scare you from baking it. Cheesecake is pretty easy to make if you follow the instructions and use the right ingredients.
You make the New York-style cheesecake with minimal ingredients and no toppings. Many cheesecake recipes go easy on the layers. A simple cracker crust, a tasty custard made with eggs, sweetener, fruits and flour, and little to no extra topping is sometimes all you need.
If baking intimidates you, the no-bake option is your best bet. No-bake cheesecakes are almost impossible to get wrong!
Make the crust, pour the batter and chill it to set in the fridge. Cheesecake making cannot get any simpler.
What’s more, they are great make-ahead options. These chilled beauties store well. Bake and store or leave an unbaked one to set. Freeze them for later – one of those days when your desire for cheesecake is overpowering and cannot be wished away.
And you have a mouthwatering dish ready anytime you crave cheesecake. These are versatile foods and you can turn them into bars or mini cheesecakes perfect for picnic, potluck or house parties.
It’s just downright delicious
Whether you make it tarty with berries and fruits or use chilies and chocolate for a flavor twist, the result is deliciousness personified!
The cheese custard beautifully complements other elements of the dish from the crust to the flavorings. The topping from whipped cream, chopped fruits, chocolate and caramel sauce take the dish up a notch in terms of savor and tang.
Why I love cheesecakes is that they make perfect summer desserts. The chilled and sweet delicacies make perfect antidotes to the heat outside.
The delicious, creamy and smooth cheesecake is indeed a crowd-pleaser.
No matter where you bake it, set an unbaked one, or buy it from a bakery, it’s an iconic dish that has stood the test of time and remained popular among foodies with a sweet tooth.