Dessert Comes First

An obsession with dessert and other unabashed opinions of a food writer

Magnum White King
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comments

Cheesecake love

posted by in Recipes

strawberry cheesecake

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 don’t lie when I say that I could make cheesecake in my sleep. I’ve even made them in all shapes – 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, “I can make other things, you know.” 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 – everything from caramel popcorn to candy to bread. I also ate a few cheesecakes during that time, baked by other people. Always I said, “Mine is better.”

I’ve only just started making cheesecakes again. I’m horrified by how much a bar of cream cheese costs now: anywhere from P113-P126. It’s one expensive dessert. An acquaintance asked me if I could supply cheesecake to his coffee shop – but requested that I keep the cost down to P400 per 9-inch cake. Dream on, buddy.

nut crust

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine from the gym asked me to make her two cakes. It was for her husband’s despedida (going away party), so I agreed. I made my special nut crust. It’s a great crust that I use with whatever nuts I have on hand – cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts. It’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 that’s as smooth as a baby’s bottom is to mix, mix, mix it well. Don’t think that the lumps you’re too lazy to scrape out from the bottom will disappear magically during baking. They won’t. Here is how smooth the batter should be.

A day later, here’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. I’m a purist, but I’ve enjoyed an occasional Oreo cheesecake and one that was bursting with chocolate bars.

cheesecake sideview

Could you call this cheesecake zen? I shot this 6-inch cheesecake in my garden, near the Japanese fountain.

Related post:
How I created the perfect cheesecake plus an awesome cheesecake recipe.

43 Responses to “Cheesecake love”

  • I’m in awe of the cheesecake, Lori!

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  • Lori, your passion for creating the best cheesecake really astounds me. :)

    The cheesecake you created is such a beauty… :D And yum, more of the crust! :D

    I’m horrified by how much a bar of cream cheese costs now: anywhere from P113-P126.
    I’ve only made cheesecake once (and it came out so wrong! hahaha). Although i have several cheesecake recipes at hand, i never get around to baking them because they require a minimum of 3-4 bars. O.o So i always end up baking other kinds of cakes instead XD I can’t wait to try out the cheesecake recipe you provided!

    From your other entry…

    What most people don’t understand is that the crust provides an ideal foil for the cheesecake, guarding against the typical cloying taste that most cheesecakes are wont to give.
    I understand this perfectly. I once tried to make a cheesecake without a crust (and with sour cream) and it was too tart and rich (in a bad way). The crust provides a really nice counterbalance :)

    As i was reading your recent entry about cheesecakes, another question popped into my mind. It’s actually been bothering me for a long time. I know that Philadelphia is the best cream cheese (it wins hands down as compared to Magnolia cream cheese, based on experience). But what about butter? I’ve been using Anchor butter ever since because it is the only “local” butter that I’ve come across that clearly indicates the percentage of butterfat in it (and more affordable than the other Danish butters). I’m rather skeptical of Magnolia Gold butter because no percentages are indicated. But a classmate of mine (who works in a bakery in Cebu) in our cake decoration class (a year ago) said that there’s really no difference between the two butters because they are both processed by the same company…daw.

    Lori, which brand of butter do you use and why? :)

    ~ April

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  • I love cheesecake!

    It’s so horribly fattening though. But I forget that when it’s time for dessert.

    I actually only use 2 bars of cream cheese for my cakes. I figure since I add so many other liquid ingredients (cream, eggs, lemon juice, vanilla), it spreads okay. And it does. So far I’ve had no complaints.

    I’m a believer of BAKING cheesecakes, and I applaud your methods. Frozen cheesecakes made me shudder. Ick.

    Oh, just a small piece of trivia: cheesecakes are Jewish in origins, just like bagels. My Jewish cousins are very proud of reminding me of this fact.

    ~Mahar

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  • Hi Nic,

    Coming from a now fully certified pastry chef (you, that is!), that’s a high compliment for me. Thanks!

    :) lori

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  • Hi Mahar,

    Using just 2 bars of cream cheese for your cheesecakes is fine. It really depends on your recipe and the liquid to dry ratio. Wow, you bake too! Cool!

    I know that the Jewish community churns out astounding goodies like babka and yes (!) cheesecake. When I go back to New York one day, I’m gonna make sure I plant myself inside a Jewish bakery and binge. :P

    lori

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  • Hi April,

    I suggest that you stick to a good cheesecake recipe and then play around with it in terms of crusts, fillings, toppings, and other embellishments. This way, you won’t waste your time (and money!) being disappointed. :)

    As for your question about butter…

    I use Queensland, sometimes Che-Vital butter if Queensland is not available. This is purely because Queensland is the least expensive, but I ALWAYS use butter. No exceptions.

    Package labeling is not something that most Filipino manufacturers are in the habit of doing, which is why you won’t know how much butterfat your preferred butter has. Knowing that figure is not important (in most cases). I don’t agree with your Cebu friend who asserts that the two butters made by the same company will have the same level of butterfat. Anchor and Magnolia Gold are directed at two different markets, hence the price difference and quality.

    Just remember this: butter is more than 80%fat. It is essentially a water-in-oil emulsion, where in the richest grades, will reach up to 40% fat (versus water). There will be different percentages depending on just how much fat has been used in the butter. The pricey European butters like Plugra and Elle & Vire have less water and more fat, which when used, will produce a richer product. I would recommend only using these high-grade butters when it is the dominant ingredient, such as pound cake, butter cake, rum cake, shortbread, etc.

    Hope this helps.

    :) lori

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  • I love cheesecake — and I love making cheesecake. Unfortunately not enough people in my family share my passion and I’m often stuck with an entire cake whenever I feel the urge to bake one.

    What lazy/busy me loves is that they have crushed graham crackers available in local groceries.

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  • Lor,

    I didn’t know that the overwhelming demand for your cheesecake was the reason you quit making it. eek.

    I must say, though, that your cheesecake quite explains the phenomenon. Perhaps, if you find another signature cake (as if you needed one, really), or if you start getting serious about opening a bakery…or a restaurant…

    I honestly see the word “legacy” around your cooking.

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  • Lagot ka Lori, people are now gonna bug you about making cheesecakes for them after this post : )

    (looking at your pictures, kumikirot na ang tiyan ko!)

    Nice lighting for the zen garden shot. Many photogs swear by natural light (but not direct light) as the best for food shots.

    d.m. is right. “Legacy” is going to be associated with your dishes/writing. Where’s Karina Bolasco and that book contract she’s supposed to give you, heheh?
    -K

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  • as always, thank you so much, lori, for anwswering my question :)

    ~April

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  • as always, thank you so much, lori, for answering my question :)

    ~April

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  • Hi I was wondering about your cheesecake recipe which you posted. I’m kinda worried about trying to make one, kasi I heard it was mahirap daw. What tips can you give? Is it better to beat the creamcheese on high or will that put too much air into the filling?

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  • Lorraine-

    Cheesecake is one of the easiest desserts to make. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

    There are plenty of tips I could give, but the most important one really, I think, is to beat the cream cheese (before you add any of the other ingredients) until it’s smooth and creamy and lump-free. At this point, it’s impossible to incorporate too much air into it because there is nothing for the cream cheese to interact with in order to produce air. Just be careful not to overbeat once you put in the eggs.

    Lori

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  • hi! have you tried making turtle cheesecake and tiramisu? and do you happen to know where i can get the best recipe for those?ü i’ve seen some turtle cheesecake recipes that needs unwrapped caramels (such as kraft), but then i can’t seem to find one here in manila, do you know where i can find them? thanks! ü

    ps. i REALLY love your blog, keep it up!ü

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  • Hi, Apple

    I love turtle pie but I don’t really like it in cheesecakes. I’m a purist. I have a recipe for turtle pie that I can post if you want. But if you want a recipe for turtle cheesecake, I can also post one for you. :)

    It’s easy enough to make your own caramels or caramel sauce, although I know it’s easier to just go to the store and buy them. Try the larger supermarkets like Landmark, Unimart, and Hi-Top in QC. Also look for them in specialty candy stores like Candy Corner and Aji Ichiban, believe it or not.

    As for tiramisu, I must admit that it’s the one dessert that I don’t like. (jaw drop), so I can’t help you there.

    I’m glad you like my blog. :) Please continue to visit and comment.

    lori

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  • it really would be nice if you can post/send me the recipe for the turtle pie and the caramel as well. thank you so much. ü

    i tried making the cheesecake recipe that you posted, it was really good!! i’ve been trying to find that kind of cheesecake, those i tried before didn’t have that kind of “feeling” in my mouth (sorry i can’t really explain it! hehe ü) it was really really good.ü maybe i’ll try the chocolate chip cookie next. :P i wonder where or how you can come up with those recipes.. they’re totally different from what i’ve been baking from recipe books/magazines.

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  • Apple-

    I will do my best to post a recipe for the turtle pie. I can’t say when but it’ll be soon. I don’t want to post just any recipe because I only post recipes that I’ve tweaked to my liking AND that I’ve tried (and tested).

    The sensation you describe is called “mouth feel.” It’s a word that really exists okay, I didn’t make it up.

    As for my recipes, they’re versions of recipes that I’ve already tried. You and I must have the same taste in dessert because someone who has a different taste may not like my recipes so much.

    Lastly, because I read up on baking science, I’m aware of how ingredients react with each other, and by just reading a recipe, I can already tell if it’ll give me the result I want (crispy, chewy, fudgy, cakey, etc.)

    lori

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  • i’ve been baking since i was 11 but i don’t know anything about baking science. maybe i should try and learn that science (the only science that i think i’ll be ever interested in. haha ü) because that will probably help me to figure which recipes i should try.(but then, culinary school is VERY expensive =[ ).
    brownies is one example. there are so many recipes out there and i know i can’t possibly try all of them just to find the type of brownie that i want. i’ve tried so many but i’m still looking for that kind of recipe that’s very moist and fudgy. some even suggested i add in corn syrup but i haven’t tried that yet. oh well, it’s hard and expensive but i’m not giving up! hehe :P

    thank you for all the insights, you’ve really helped me a lot.ü

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  • Hi Lori,

    A beautifull story with almost a sad end. Yo can always limit your orders but not quiting the job.

    Any way you remind my of my self with cheesecakes. My familly swear that mine are the best, they urge me to open a bakery too (i wish i could!). At least there words give me a self confidence.

    Happy Baking.

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  • I wish I could cook & bake & write all about food like you! :)

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  • have you tried the cheesecake at itallianis? it’s sooo good. quite expensive, though. P375 for a slice.

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  • Lori,
    I am from the US and I just started making cheesecakes for a living. I have always loved food, cooking, and especially desserts. My home bakery is called The Cheesecake Shoppe. It’s fun to find other people who do/did that. :) I did my first wedding reception Saturday. If you have any tips, pointers and suggestions on running a cheesecake business, I would appreciate it so much. My e-mail is cheesecakeshoppe@hotmail.com Thanks so much!
    ~Sara

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  • Hi Lori! Your cheesecake is really awesome! How it makes me drool…being a cheesecake lover here. Kudos to your very nice site! I’m so glad I stumbled in this wonderful blogsite of yours…my day isn’t complete without browsing through your pages. Cheers! =)

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  • I was wondering what you use to cut the cheesecake without tearing the smooth cheese out when pulling the knife out… I always use a heated knife and wipe it clean with each cut, but it still is not perfect… ideas? Special cutting wire?

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  • Anonymous- Tips abound in cookbooks as to how to cut a cheesecake cleanly: dental floss, a hot sharp knife, etc. I use a regular chef’s knife which I don’t even bother to heat up. I just make sure that I let the cheesecake chill for at least 24 hours. That gives it ample time to solidify and cut cleanly.

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  • how do you make a cheese cake from scratch? ccan you tell me step by step and the ingredients?

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  • Hi Lori. What can size of condensed milk should I use?

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  • i LOVE LOVE LOVE cheesecake but it’s so hard to find a decent one out there. and it’s 10 times harder to bake one myself. Maybe it’s just me being picky. (not too dense but not fluffy, strong cheese taste but not cloying and with depth ie.i must taste a little more than just cream cheese)

    I’ve tried your recipe and the tip about beating the hell out of the cheese before adding other stuff so that it doesnt become too fluffy and that work wonders. the texture was good, the taste was awesome but the thing was it looked horrible. I fail to remove it out of the pan(mine is non-stick baking pan) in one good looking piece. something will always break off or the edges look messy. How can i make it look as good as it taste?

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  • Hi!! I’m starting to love your blog. I’m a dessert addict. I want to learn how to bake cheesecakes for my boyfriend since it is his favorite and I’m just wondering if there is really such a thing as no-bake cheesecake. Does it taste as good? Thank you and I’ll surely be an avid blog reader.

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  • And one more thing Lori, if you don’t mind, is it okay if I ask a cheesecake recipe that is easy to make? Thank you :)

    Kristine –
    My cheesecake recipe is here.
    –lori

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  • Thank you so much lori :) I’m so excited to try it

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  • I’d like to try baked baked cheesecake but I don’t know how.can you please tell me how it’s done.

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  • I would like to try baked cheesecake but I don’t know how.can you please tell me how it’s done. T

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  • Hi Lori,

    Love your cheesecake recipe. I would just like to know what kind of kitchen equipment you are using in making the cheesecake. Thanks!

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  • I like philadelphia cream cheese, but its hard to find it the Groceries here in Lucena City.
    I’ve been waiting for almost a month now. Send me philadelphia dheese, pleaseeeeeeee
    Im begging!

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