If you’ve been hanging around kitchens for any length of time you probably have a particular favorite cheesecake. Strawberry-Topped Cheesecake is popular, or maybe your favorite cheesecake is simply sliced and served as in this lemony version from Mark Bittman. Cheesecake is a staple and most cooks have a fairly certain point of view about which type they prefer. However, I’m not one of those cooks. It would be easy to say that this Maple Cheesecake with its truly spectacular topping of Charred Pear Slices was my favorite cheesecake, because it’s really darn good. It has everything I like in a cheesecake: creamy texture, a slight tang, a bit of fruit and it’s not too sweet. In fact there’s no sugar at all in the filling of this cheesecake. Which is a fact that could make this maple cheesecake a whole lot of people’s favorite cheesecake.
Just not mine. Which isn’t to say I don’t love this Maple Cheesecake. I love this Maple Cheesecake.
The point I’m trying to make is this: I don’t love a particular type of cheesecake (like this Maple Cheesecake, or even this Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake). What I mean is I like a certain style of cheesecake which I find endlessly adaptable to seasonal flavors or culinary whims. Once you’ve mastered the process then, like me, you can say you no longer have a particular favorite type cheesecake. You’ll love them all.
Cheesecake starts with cheese. It can be made with many kinds of cheese including: ricotta cheese, havarti, quark, or even twaróg. However in this country cheesecake is usually made from cream cheese, which was invented in 1872. My favorite types of cheesecake are made with cream cheese.
Apart from the cheese, there are predominantly two styles of cheesecake recipes. One that sets by baking, and one that is chilled in the fridge to set. I far prefer a baked cheesecake for its creamy texture, and more complex flavor. However, just because a cheesecake is baked doesn’t mean it’s good. In my opinion, a good cheesecake is baked at 350 degrees and requires a water bath. Higher temperatures or less consistent temperatures often lead to an ugly crack on top, or worse– a grainy texture. Some people (New Yorkers??) like this about their cheesecake. Just not me.
Now that I’ve cleared that up (or have I?) let me tell you why I love this Maple Cheesecake with its thinly sliced charred pears. Or maybe I shouldn’t even bother. Maybe I should tell you to look at the pictures. If they don’t convince that this Maple Cheesecake is well worth your time and effort, I don’t see how I ever could. GREG