How to make the perfect cheesecake
Let’s close our eyes for a second and imagine the perfect cheesecake. We are sure that if we compared the delicious cheesecakes our imagination has created they would be very different from each other, but they would all be proud members of the best cheesecake society.
What is a cheesecake?
A cheesecake is something as simple as a sweet cake, baked or not, made with cheese, sugar and eggs. After that, the cook’s imagination is the true protagonist and we can find an infinite variety of cheesecake recipes with different flavours, textures and presentations. Allegedly European in its origin, cheesecakes can be very different depending on the country and traditions of each region. However, we have to admit that it is on the other side of the Atlantic where the cream cheese cheesecake has become the undisputed king of cakes, from where it now returns with renewed popularity.
Cream cheese, the star ingredient
The most important ingredient of all cheesecakes is a good cream cheese. We can safely say that this type of creamy and spreadable cheese was made for cheesecake. It’s what we call a true love story, to the delight of all the gourmands in the world!
There are good reasons for this: it makes the cake creamy and it gives it a good structure and a delicious flavour. There is a different cream cheese for every type of cheesecake we are making, but there is one important thing we always have to take into account: the quality of the cream cheese we are using. The balance between fats and proteins has to be right for the recipe that we intend to make, in addition to its stabilizer content to ensure the cake is as firm as we want it. This may seem very complicated, but it is easier than you imagine. To help you make the perfect cheesecake, whatever recipe you have in mind, we will go through everything you need to know.
So many cheesecake recipes
We will not bore you too much with historical information, but we do find quite interesting that in Ancient Rome they used to take baked cakes made with cheese, flour, eggs and honey as offerings to the temples. With these simple ingredients, it is not surprising that the recipe spread throughout Europe during the Roman expansion. The first ever recorded cheesecake recipe was in a recipe book in 14th Century France. In the next few centuries, as Europeans crossed the pond, the recipe and its variants spread throughout the Americas.
Fast-forward to our modern pyrolytic electric ovens with time and temperature control. Today we can find all kinds of cheesecakes, from the simplest creations, reminiscent of what the origins of the cheesecake might have been, to the most sophisticated and elaborate recipes. All of them have their own method and ingredients but knowing the basics can guarantee success. We will describe the different types of cheesecakes highlighting their particularities and the best cream cheese to use.
First, we will differentiate two basic types of cheesecake, which in turn are subdivided into a wide variety of recipes: the baked cheesecake and the no-bake cold cheesecake. They are very different in texture and flavour, as some set with heat and others when refrigerated, so they will need different ingredients and proportions.
It is one of the most traditional cheesecakes and a lesson in simplicity. Starting with three basic ingredients, cream cheese in a proportion of 40-50%, sugar and eggs, the result is a simple but exquisite dessert. Its main characteristic is that it is cooked in the oven, either directly or in a water bath, at moderate baking temperatures ranging from 160 °C to 200 °C. Some baked cheesecakes can contain other dairy ingredients such as butter, sour cream, milk or other cheeses.
Its most basic recipe is one of the easiest cakes to bake and not only it can be adapted in many ways, it can become the most sophisticated of recipes. Our most suitable product for baked cheesecakes is our Regular Cream Cheese, also available in a lactose-free, light or organic version. It has a balanced composition that makes it very creamy, but still light, ensuring a creamy cheesecake that is stable after baking. It has a natural and fresh flavour, which can be combined with many ingredients, with the added advantage that it emulsifies perfectly with other fats and liquids.
Another option is our Original Recipe Cream Cheese, ideal for cheesecakes that need a consistent texture that guarantees there will not be any unpleasant surprises after baking, such as cracks or sunken areas. Especially suited for American-style cheesecakes, such as New York Cheesecake or Philadelphia-style cheesecakes.
If you feel like experimenting try our flavoured range. With the pink pepper, Manchego cheese and blue cheese varieties you will be able to create cheesecakes with a lot of personality and all the benefits that cream cheese has for this type of recipes.
No-bake cold cheesecake
If you don’t have a lot of time or you don’t want to use the oven, a cold no-bake cheesecake is the easiest option. It is also a perfect alternative for those who prefer a lighter cheesecake. A no-baked cheesecake is made without eggs and, instead of being baked, it sets in the refrigerator. They tend to be thinner cakes, normally with less than 5cm in height. The proportion of cream cheese is usually smaller than for the baked version, around 20-30%.
It is a simple recipe that sometimes uses gelatine or other stabilisers. Its flavour is more neutral and its texture is similar to a pudding or curd, which is why it is so important to choose a cream cheese with a fresh and lactic flavour and creamy texture that will add character to your cold cheesecake. These cakes normally have a biscuit and butter base with a double function: hold the cheese batter and, at the same time, add a crunchy and rich contrast. In addition, this also means we can experiment with different types of biscuits (such as spicy speculoos, digestive, with oats or even salty) for a unique twist.
When making this recipe, you can use Quescrem’s Regular Cream Cheese and Original Recipe Cream Cheese. This is an ideal ingredient for no-bake cheesecakes because its high proportion of cheese means you can use less gelatine. This also means it will set faster and stay stable for longer. Another option is to use one of our flavoured cream cheeses if you want to add a distinctive twist. You can use them on their own or combined with another of our cream cheese varieties.
The most popular cheesecakes
Now that we know what the two basic types of cheesecake are, it is time to start baking. True cheesecake fans will know what we are talking about, the number of recipes is endless. Traditional cheesecakes, with their own name, specific to a country or region, with fresh fruit, jam or luxurious chocolate… As it is impossible to describe all of them, we will focus on what now seem to be the three most popular cheesecakes, partly due to the great influence of social media.
1. New York Cheesecake
The New York-style cheesecake is undeniably one of the most copied and popular cakes on the planet. It has a higher proportion of cream cheese than other recipes, which is then combined with eggs, sugar and some flavouring. The end result is a dense and extra creamy cheesecake. Its appearance, with raised edges, is unmistakable.
Its more classic version is baked in two stages, first at a higher temperature and then at a lower temperature until it is fully set. It normally has a biscuit base, but there are hundreds of versions, so we can also find recipes for no-bake cold New York cheesecakes. Quescrem’s Original Recipe Cream Cheese is an ideal ingredient for this type of cake as it helps to achieve a visually perfect baked cake.
2. Japanese cheesecake
This recipe has come to us from the far east. It is similar to cheese souffle as it has an airy, fluffy and elastic texture. Its main characteristic is that it has no flour and is made with more eggs than other recipes. The whites must be whipped into stiff peaks before folding into the cream mixture. The Japanese cheesecake has many admirers that rival to make the fluffiest and lightest recipe: it should melt in your mouth like a cotton cloud!
For this type of cheesecake, without a doubt, the best option is our Regular Cream Cheese because it has a very fresh and light flavour that adapts to the texture requirements of this cake and helps it keep its structure after baking.
3. Lava cheesecake
A very trendy cheesecake, but what is it all about? Similar to a coulant, this is a baked cake with a liquid centre. When cutting the cake, the melted cheese comes out like lava out of a volcano. They usually have a salty touch as it is made with stronger cheeses such as blue cheese or Manchego.
The secret to the recipe lies in how the oven temperature is controlled, hot enough so that it sets and the exterior is firm and does not crumble, but not too hot so that the inside does not set. Temperatures around 175-180 °C are usually recommended.
To make this type of cake we recommend using any of our basic cream cheeses as a base, in a proportion of 80-85% of the total amount of cheese, and then add our Cream Cheese with Blue Cheese or with Manchego Cheese. The proportions will vary depending on your personal taste or how strong you want the flavour to be.
The perfect cheesecake
If you have a patisserie business or restaurant and you must deal with the problem of having to process and refrigerate a large volume of cakes, then you need a special cream cheese that can withstand all kinds of eventualities, without last minute unpleasant surprises during catering or special events that require a lot of planning. Quescrem Plus has been developed with this in mind: an innovative and versatile cream cheese that withstands extreme temperatures. Frozen cheesecakes made with this cream cheese will not crystallize and will not lose their structure when thawed. After baking you will notice that your thawed cheesecakes maintain their structure and creaminess as if they were freshly made.
Do your recipes need an extra creamy touch? A great option is to totally or partially replace cream cheese with mascarpone cheese. Quescrem Mascarpone has a very creamy texture and in addition to adding a delicate dairy flavour to your cheesecake, you will be able reduce the amount of stabilisers and butter. A lactose-free version is also available.
If you are looking for a different touch with a more acidic and fresh taste, we recommend cream cheeses made with other milks. For example, our Goat Cheese Log Cream Cheese, with the intense and characteristic flavour of goat cheese log, but easier to work with so you don’t waste time. With this original twist, your cheesecake will be the talk of the town!
The other alternative is yoghurt. For this we recommend our Culinary Yoghurt, an innovative and 100% natural product developed for cooking that has received a Sial Innovation 2018 distinction. There is no other product like this in the market, because it combines the texture of cream cheese with a rich yoghurt flavour. With it you can make amazing yoghurt cheesecakes that will become your most popular recipes.
We hope that the different cheesecake options we have shown you on this post will fire your imagination and when you close your eyes again you will have thousands of ideas for new recipes. We invite you to share them with us on our social media but also to ask us any questions or suggestions you may have.
We cannot wait to help you make the perfect cheesecake!