I used to make cheesecakes for a living. I had business cards and stickers made, I went to Divisoria to buy 100 cake boxes, and I was buying Philadelphia cream cheese by the boxload. I donâ€™t lie when I say that I could make cheesecake in my sleep. Iâ€™ve even made them in all shapes â€“ from big hearts to little hearts from 6-inch circles to 9-inch squares, and everything in between. In 2000, a local food magazine proclaimed my cheesecake the best in town. I was even supplying a restaurant with cheesecake baked in specially bought pans for them until their demands and that of my full-time job became too much.
After a few years of everyone I know always requesting me to make a cheesecake for birthday parties and get-togethers, I quit. I refused to make any more cheesecakes for anybody by saying, â€œI can make other things, you know.â€ At that time, I never wanted to see another bar of cream cheese ever again.
So I stopped making cheesecake for about two years. Of course there was the occasional whine from family (from my Bin, especially) but I held firm and fast to my resolve. In that time, I concentrated on baking other things â€“ everything from caramel popcorn to candy to bread. I also ate a few cheesecakes during that time, baked by other people. Always I said, â€œMine is better.â€
Iâ€™ve only just started making cheesecakes again. Iâ€™m horrified by how much a bar of cream cheese costs now: anywhere from P113-P126. Itâ€™s one expensive dessert. An acquaintance asked me if I could supply cheesecake to his coffee shop â€“ but requested that I keep the cost down to P400 per 9-inch cake. Dream on, buddy.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine from the gym asked me to make her two cakes. It was for her husbandâ€™s despedida (going away party), so I agreed. I made my special nut crust. Itâ€™s a great crust that I use with whatever nuts I have on hand â€“ cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts. Itâ€™s agreeable with every nut. (Ha! That sentence sounds funny). Anyway, here it is (baked) in my 9-inch heart-shaped pan.
The secret to a cheesecake thatâ€™s as smooth as a babyâ€™s bottom is to mix, mix, mix it well. Donâ€™t think that the lumps youâ€™re too lazy to scrape out from the bottom will disappear magically during baking. They wonâ€™t. Here is how smooth the batter should be.
A day later, hereâ€™s the finished cheesecake. I used canned strawberry topping but almost anything from chocolate curls to caramel swirls will do. Cheesecakes are versatile, the perfect dessert palette. Iâ€™m a purist, but Iâ€™ve enjoyed an occasional Oreo cheesecake and one that was bursting with chocolate bars.
Could you call this cheesecake zen? I shot this 6-inch cheesecake in my garden, near the Japanese fountain.
How I created the perfect cheesecake plus an awesome cheesecake recipe.