National Cheesecake Day is July 30th, and it's an excellent excuse to indulge in a fabulous dessert -- even if it's still months away. A soft mixture of eggs, sugar, and cheese paired with a sweet, crunchy crust, this dessert suits both special occasions and dessert after family dinner. Go ahead -- treat yourself to cheesecake.
Cheesecake lovers have the Ancient Greek civilization to thank for their favorite party dessert. History tells us a basic form of cheesecake was given to those participating in the Olympic Games to boost their energy and motivation. Aegimus, a Greek physician, first mentioned cheesecake when he put together a book on preparing these treats. The concept was passed on over centuries, before really taking off in the 1900s.
National Cheesecake Day is always a big day for those in the cream cheese industry. The rise of cheesecake as a modern dessert is due in large part to the mass production of Philadelphia Cream Cheese. James Kraft invented this product in 1912 and acquired the trademark in 1928. Before long, it was a household name and a common ingredient in dozens of recipes. To this day, this brand is the most popular choice for both novice and professional cheesecake makers.
While there are plenty of fun twists on traditional cheesecake, a basic recipe is always a good starting point. Two pounds of cream cheese, a cup of sugar, and a cup of sour cream will give you 8 servings. You will also need a teaspoon of vanilla extract, 3 eggs, and graham crackers for the crust.
Make graham cracker crumbs with a food processor and combine them with melted butter and sugar. Press the crumbs into a pie pan and use a mixer to beat the cream cheese and other ingredients before pouring it into the pan.
Cheesecake is ideal for people of all baking abilities because it has so many options -- including bake and no-bake. The latter set in the fridge instead of the oven. For a no-bake variety, pack the graham cracker crust into the pan, then prep the cheesecake filling and add a bit of powdered sugar to keep it nice and thick. Using heavy cream will make it super smooth. Refrigerate for at least six hours or up to two days, and serve cold to see what the no-bake cheesecake buzz is all about.
Baked cheesecake is thicker and more velvety compared to light and fluffy no-bake cheesecake. Skip the heavy cream and mix the filling before heating the cream cheese, milk, and sugar over a double boiler on the stove. Whisk gently until there are no lumps and let the mixture cool for 15 minutes before adding in eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Combine with the flour mixture and add the filling to the crust. Bake for an hour, then leave it to cool in the oven for a few hours.
Out of the seemingly endless array of cheesecake varieties to choose from on National Cheesecake Day, chocolate has got to be one of the fan favorites. Whether you go with milk, dark, or white chocolate, you won't be disappointed with the rich, melt-in-your-mouth flavors. Make a crust from Oreo crumbs and mix eight ounces of chocolate in with the filling. Use 1 and a 1/2 cups of heavy cream to thicken the filling before setting the cake. Top it all off with melted chocolate or fresh fruit.
New York cheesecake is always baked with extra cream cheese. Mix graham crackers or cookies with caster sugar and melted butter for the crust. While that bakes for 10 minutes, make the filling with 32 ounces of full-fat cream cheese. Beat with 1 cup of granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, and some vanilla extract and lemon zest before spreading the batter evenly over cooled crust. Bake for at least 60 minutes and cool for several hours before indulging in a divine NYC delight.
Blueberry cheesecake is fresh and fruity, and it only requires one extra step: making a fruit puree with berries, sugar, and lemon juice. Add this to your regular cheesecake filling and mix well before pouring over the crust. Bake for an hour and a half and let the cheesecake cool for another hour in the oven. Referigerate the cake for five hours or even overnight, and then put blueberries and whip cream on top for serving.
National Cheesecake Day is a great time to try a red velvet variety if you haven't already. Stick to your traditional cheesecake recipe, but add 1/2 a cup of buttermilk and an ounce of red food coloring to the filling. Bake for an hour and cool for an hour, before covering and leaving in the fridge overnight. Make some red velvet frosting to layer on top, or drizzle chocolate across the cake. Swapping the crust for a brownie base is another mouthwatering option.
You don't have to wait until autumn to enjoy pumpkin cheesecake. Sprinkle cinnamon in with the graham crackers for a seasoned crust, and pour one can of pureed pumpkin in with the rest of the filling ingredients. Add nutmeg and ground cloves for that unforgettable pumpkin pie flavor. Bake for an hour and let it cool for 15 minutes before covering in plastic wrap and refrigerating for four hours.
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