Let's talk cheesecake and share a recipe

Oct 5, 2011

In this week's Food for Thought Seattle Times food blogger Nancy Leson rhapsodizes over New York style cheesecake. Who knew there were so many other kinds?

The Bulgarians top it with smetana, not the composer but a soured heavy cream. Ancient Romans made it with honey and a cheese similar to modern-day ricotta. The Bavarian Quarkkuchen is put together with quark cheese, not the elementary particle but a cheese made from soured milk. 

It seems almost every nation on Earth has its own version of the waist-thickening wonder.

The grifters and gamblers of the Broadway show "Guys and Dolls" sang the praises of the cheesecake at Mindy's, the show's nom de deli for New York's famed Lindy's Delicatessen

So what makes New York style cheese cake, different from all others? Heavy cream and plenty of it. 

Here's Nancy's favorite recipe.

Alaska Joe Britton's Chocolate Cheesecake

For the crust
1 1/2 packages chocolate wafer cookies, ground into crumbs in a food processor (or by hand in a Zip-Loc bag using a rolling pin)
1 cube (8 tablespoons) butter, melted and cooled

Prepare crust by mixing cookie-crumbles with melted butter and pressing into a springform pan. (I've used a 9-inch and 10-inch pan for this, both work well.)

12 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce bricks) Philadelphia Cream Cheese
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
(note: cream cheese and eggs should be brought to room temperature before preparing)

Melt chocolate and butter together, and incorporate.

Using an electric mixer: beat cream cheese in a deep bowl till smooth; slowly add melted chocolate/butter mixture; then whipping cream and vanilla extract; slowly add sugar; add eggs one at a time and incorporate each well before adding the next one; add coffee.

Carefully pour into the cookie-crusted pan. Turn the pan several times to settle.

Bake in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Turn oven down to 325-degrees and continue baking 30 minutes more for a total of 1 hour. Turn off oven, partially open the oven door and leave the cheesecake in the oven until the cake cools. Remove from oven, cover and chill for at least four hours.

"Just because you don't live near a bakery doesn't mean you have to go without cheesecake."

– Hedy Lamarr

Food for Thought” is a weekly KPLU feature covering the world of food as well as the thinking that goes into it. The feature is published here and airs on KPLU 88.5 every Wednesday during Morning Edition and All Things Considered.