Cheesecake From Philadelphia Cream Cheese (Without a Scale!)
Cheesecake is very popular in some areas of the world, and known as a dessert with one or more layers: one layer consists of a mixture of cream cheese, ricotta or another fresh cheese, eggs and sugar and the base is usually made from crushed biscuits, pastry, crackers or sponge cake.
You can make cheesecake without and oven, or with an oven, depending on the recipe. The unbaked version is set in the fridge, and they are therefore very quick and easy to make once you have the ingredients ready.
Cheesecake is often sweetened with sugar, but feel free to experiment with agave nectar, yacon syrup and stevia. There are liquid stevia products available now that are flavoured, which might go very well with fruit, nuts or chocolate. You could add strawberries, pumpkin or lime to this recipe to change the flavour and experiment for yourself.
An ancient form of cheesecake may have been a popular treat in ancient Greece before the conquest of Greece by the Romans. Aegimus is said to be the first person to mention a cheesecake, and he wrote a book all about cheesecakes!
The first cheesecake was found in a British book called Forme of Cury written in 1390, but the modern version of cheesecake made on a bed of biscuit with no oven is an American invention that’s pretty different from the modern English version, which is traditionally made with dried fruits and spices and baked.
Almost all modern cheesecakes made across the pond involve cream cheese. In Italy, they use ricotta. In Germany, Holland and Poland, it’s quark. Some think that cheesecake is a cake, others swear it’s a torte. But could it be a custard pie, in fact? The debate goes on.
If you make your cheesecake in South African style, you’d make it with whipped cream, gelatine and a butter digestive biscuit crust. Why not add some Amarula, too, for a super South African flavour?
In Asia, cheesecakes are made with matcha – Japanese green tea, powdered! They might also add lychee or mange. Doesn’t that sound delicious?! Asian-style cheesecakes are lighter in flavour, less sweet and may have a spongy texture.
Australian cheesecakes are uncooked and made with raspberry, lemon, caramel, chocolate, vanilla, or passionfruit.
Do you like the idea of a honey and ricotta cheesecake? Well in ancient Rome, that’s how they made ’em. Flour was added and they were formed into loaves. The modern version may contain mascarpone and barley flakes with candied fruits sprinkled on top.
So coming back to the UK, now – and what is our tradition? Well, buttered biscuit cheesecakes get topped with a fruit compote. Oh yes, that’s right! Lemon curd, black cherry, blackcurrant, passionfruit, Irish cream, marshmallow and banofee varieties are often filled with cream cheese, sugar and cream, and we might pop some gelatine in there to keep everything firm. In Scotland people make smoked salmon cheesecakes. But don’t worry, it’s a savoury dish.
To make the following sweet, simple cheesecake, you’ll need the following ingredients. Feel free to play around with it. Add a fruit compote if you so desire. You’ll need a medium-sized mug and a tablespoon to measure out the ingredients.
Ingredients (serves 8)
1 cup of biscuit crumbs
2 1/2 tbsp. butter, melted
1 1/4 cups of Philadelphia cheese, or another cream cheese of choice
a 397g can of condensed milk
1 tub of double cream
1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
1 cup of mixed summer fruits, like strawberries, raspberries or blueberries and/or a fruit compote.
- Add the biscuit crumbs and melted butter to a large bowl and mix well.
- Press the mixture into an 18cm loose bottomed cake tin then chill it in the fridge while you make the filling.
- Whisk the cheese, condensed milk and double cream really well. Then add the lemon juice and whisk it really well again until the mixture is very thick and creamy.
- Pour this mixture over the base and put it back into the fridge for 2 more hours, or until it’s set.
- Take out the cheesecake once set and decorate with the summer fruits, and/or your fruit compote.
Image courtesy of Rafel Miro