Ah...cheesecake. It seems so 80's doesn't it? It's a crowd pleaser that's for sure. If you want to make everyone in the room swoon, cheesecake is what's for dessert. I have heard of people who don't like cheesecake, but I think they are just a little "delicate". And I have no patience for delicate eaters. Okay, I know I'm being harsh but I tend to be that way about dessert.
When I found out that April's Daring Bakers challenge was going to be Cheesecake, I smiled. I have a past with cheesecake. In fact aside from a single cookie recipe I made over and over again as a child, I think cheesecake was my first "specialty". Perhaps the first whispers of a passion to come. It was actually a specialty I shared with my husband. I think Cheesecake is what solidified the beginnings of our now 19 year relationship. You see, DG and I are what popular culture refers to as High School Sweethearts. While I cringe at that term, it is the truth. I credit the cheesecake. In our youth, we would often spend a Saturday afternoon together, shopping, preparing, baking and eating cheesecake. It might have seemed a little geeky or like code for "other things", but no one complained when they had cheesecake for dessert. Since those early years I haven't eaten a lot of cheesecake. I guess I fell in love with other, more refined, desserts or was constantly looking to new things. And perhaps because nothing presses my binge button more than that cheesecake in the fridge. But when I do make it I still love it in all its comfort-food glory. Tonight I've enlisted a handful of bellies to make sure I don't polish this one off late at night in front of the open fridge.
In my mind there is only 1 cheesecake worth its weight in "Philadelphia", and that's the New York Cheesecake. And don't tell, but its actually very simple to make, consisting of a basic cream cheese custard bound together, sometimes, by a crust and baked until just set, then chilled. Some people will say it doesn't need a crust, but its rich, creamy and substantial demeanor beg for something to hold it up. Just a quarter inch base of crushed graham crackers or a shortbread cookie base will do. The crust is where you can get creative too. Since most of the time a cookie crust is what's used, the sky's the limit in terms of the type of cookie used. Gingersnaps with pumpkin, oatmeal with apple, coconut with strawberry, chocolate wafer with chocolate...the options are endless.
The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.