Friday, July 29, 2011

Cheesecake - yummm

By Diane Forrest

Today is National Cheesecake Day.  I'm talking about the dessert, not pictures of scantily clad ladies.  Is it a coincidence that it follows lasagna day?  Not only is it a perfect dessert  to follow lasagna, but it also has its origins in Greece.  It was later also adopted by the Romans as was lasagna.

Cheesecake is a dessert consisting of a topping made of soft, fresh cheese on a base made from biscuit, pastry or sponge.  The topping is frequently sweetened with sugar and flavored or topped with fruit, nuts, fruit flavored drizzle and/or chocolate.  It comes in 2 forms, baked or unbaked.   Baking a cheesecake is not as simple as you might think.  It is a difficult process because of the types of cheeses used, getting them to bake evenly and keeping them from cracking or crumbling.  There is a special spring-form pan that is used, as well as baking in a water bath, or wrapping with a wet towel after removing from the oven.  I have found the easiest way to enjoy baked cheesecake is to order it at my favorite restaurant!

The no bake cheesecake is much easier to prepare.  You can find a box mix on the baking aisle at your grocery store, or use a simple recipe like this one:

No Bake Cheesecake:
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 (12 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust
  • 1/2 pint sliced fresh strawberries

  • Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Spoon mixture into graham crumb crust. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
  • Once the cheesecake has set, garnish with sliced strawberries. Serve.

When I was younger I never tried cheesecake.  To me, the words cheese and cake didn't really belong together.  I love cake, and I love cheese, but didn't think I would like it together.  Another reason was my mother would cover the top with that canned cherry pie filling.  Those also didn't appeal to me.  While I like raw cherries (especially floating in a pina colada) I never cared for the canned cooked cherries.   Then one day I discovered Sara Lee Frozen Strawberry Cheesecake.  It was love at first bite!  I would buy one, take it over to my cousin's, get two forks and we would eat the whole thing right out of the box.  Who wants to wash dishes?  We sat on the floor and placed the cheesecake on the coffee table between us and munched away while watching a favorite movie. Recently, while I was in Jackson when my husband was hospitalized, my cousin came over to the hotel room where I was staying.  She brought her 10 year old daughter with her, and in her hand guessed it!  A frozen Sara Lee Strawberry Cheesecake!  We sat on the bed this time( too hard to get all the way down on the floor) and armed with 3 forks we did some major damage to that cheesecake. So the tradition continues!  So today, after you eat some leftover lasagna, finish it off with a delicious slice of cheesecake and celebrate national cheesecake day.

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