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January 14, 2015
Homemade Cheesecakes Impress, Delight
By Janet Tharpe
Whether you're a cheesecake purist or a cheesecake innovator, there's no denying the silken creamy comfort that comes with every bite.
One of the first things I learned to make as a newlywed was homemade cheesecake. For so few ingredients it sure was easy to go astray! Or at least it was for this gal back in those days. What really helped me was finding a solid "foundation" recipe to build from. With a quality base, the possibilities for embellishment were endless!
It's that sturdy foundation that was brought to mind when we first tried Jacqueline Fowler's Crack Proof New York Style Cheesecake.
"This recipe was handed down to me from my mother," says Jacqueline of her family's cheesecake recipe. "Every holiday my siblings and I (all seven of us) would request this awesome cake along with homemade fruit toping. It's gotten so that she has to create two cakes, due to there never being enough."
The single word that this recipe brings to mind is creamy. True to the New York style, this cake is pure, unadulterated creamy goodness - no frills, no add-ins, just the key ingredients needed for perfect flavor and consistency. It's special in its super straightforward preparation and well-developed flavor.
Once I was able to get a handle on the basics, the whole family and I took to experimenting with fun toppings and unusual mix-ins. (You just can't even imagine how many ways Oreos can be used in cooking until you put them in the hands of a 9-year old boy!)
A grown-up take on such youthful whimsy comes from California's V. Seward. Her Blue Ribbon Cheesecake Recipe incorporates the exotic liquor Amarula, which she equates to other more familiar Irish Cream liquors.
"Amarula has hints of chocolate, vanilla and caramel," she explains. "Once I tried it, I knew I had to experiment with it... and so created a decadent cheesecake. I made this cheesecake for a couple of friends coming by for coffee. Their reaction to this dessert was amazing and I knew I had a hit."
With a light, creamy consistency, Ms. Seward's recipe is highly reminiscent of a wonderful flan or caramel custard.
"Believe it or not, three of us ate the whole cheesecake in one sitting. It was so delicious we couldn't stop ourselves. This is by far one of my best creations."
Another show-stopper on the dessert table comes from home cook Gina Gonzalez. Her Coconut Strawberry-Rum Cheesecake exudes the light freshness of fruit while retaining the silky texture of classic cheesecake.
"I decided to be a little creative for once," smiles Gina, who flavors her cheesecake with tasty coconut cream and coconut rum.
Topped with either rum-soaked strawberries or fresh strawberry rum jam, I think it's safe to say that Gina's creative efforts have paid off, tenfold. Her Blue Ribbon winning recipe will be a regular at our holiday table for years to come!
If you're anything like me, your wheels are spinning and your tummy is grumbling! These fabulous recipes are just a sampling of the wonderful cheesecake concoctions that have been shared by home cooks on Just A Pinch. I'm always up for a cheesecake challenge, so keep those recipes coming! There is simply no such thing as too much dessert.