Cheesecake, shmeesecake. What’s the big deal?
When I was a girl, then a teenager, and even a young married woman, I knew very little about cheesecake. I’m actually not sure I had had cheesecake.
Cheesecake is one of those words that for me had negative connotations. I liked cake and I liked cheese but I could never marry the two in my mind. All I could envision was a slice of American cheese somehow inserted into sweet cake. It felt incongruent. It just didn’t jive.
When I discovered the truth about cheesecake and ate cheesecake, well, it all made sense.
The first “cheese cake” may have been created on the Greek island of Samos. Anthropologists excavated cheese molds there which were dated circa 2,000 B.C. Cheese and cheese products had most likely been around for thousands of years before this.
In Greece, cheesecake was considered to be a good source of energy and there is evidence that it was served to the athletes during the first Olympic Games in 776 B.C. Greek brides and grooms were also known to use cheesecake as a wedding cake. The simple ingredients of flour, wheat, honey, and cheese were formed into a cake and baked—a far cry from the complicated recipes today.
A little history about the cream cheese. In 1872, a New York dairy farmer was attempting to replicate the soft, French cheese Neufchâtel. He instead accidentally came up with an “unripened cheese” that was heavier and creamier. Thus, modern commercial American cream cheese was developed. Three years later, cream cheese was packed in foil and distributed to local stores under the Philadelphia Cream Cheese brand.
Of course, no story about cheesecake would be complete without talking about the New York style cheesecake. The classic New York style is served with just the cake – no fruit, chocolate or caramel is served on the top or on the side. This famously smooth cheesecake gets its signature flavor from extra egg yolks in the cream cheese cake mix.
As much as I like New York things, I do not want New York style cheesecake. If there is something that can be added, then add it, baby. A couple of my oh so favorites are raspberry swirl chocolate cheesecake, dulce de leche caramel cheesecake, and chocolate hazelnut crunch cheesecake. Have mercy.
As divine as those sound, and are, no cheesecake is complete unless accompanied by a steaming cup of coffee with cream. If I can’t get the coffee, I will pass on the cheesecake. That is truth.
When my boys were young and we made chocolate chip cookies at home, they would always make sure we had plenty of cold milk in the refrigerator. If not, they didn’t want the cookies.
Once you’ve experienced the perfect complement, nothing else will do.