Shavuot

Say Cheese-Cake! And Let The Calories Begin

May 21, 2009
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Everybody has their favorite cheesecake. Cheesecakes are a delicious and popular choice to serve for Shavuot along with cheese kugels and blintzes. You can either buy or bake cheesecakes in a variety of flavors, from plain, marble, strawberry, sugar-free for diabetics, even dairy-free cheesecakes for those who are lactose-intolerant or to serve with a meat meal.

The Cheesecake Bible (Robert Rose) by George Geary offers up a decadent and delicious collection of cheesecake recipes. The fabulous full-color photos almost leap off the pages and onto your plate. You’ll discover everything you need to bake the perfect cheesecake every time in this excellent book by an award-winning chef and baker. George Geary teaches baking and cooking techniques at more than 100 cooking schools across North America every year because of his culinary expertise. He is a food journalist and the author of five cookbooks.

Cheesecake, a delightfully creamy dessert, is easier to make than other traditional cakes, yet it is incredibly impressive. You’ll find recipes for 20 different chocolate cheesecakes in The Cheesecake Bible including Rocky Road and White Chocolate Velvet Cheesecake. Do you prefer fresh fruit? Try French Apple or Butterscotch Peach Cheesecake. Not in the mood to turn on the oven? Try Berry Berry Berry Cheesecake, Chocolate Mocha Chunk or Mint Cheesecake. There are recipes for Passover Honey Cheesecake, New York-Style and Tiramisu Cheesecake, Dulce de Leche Cheesecake, even Ice Cream Cone Cheesecakes for kids of all sizes! There’s even a recipe for Three-Tier Wedding Cheesecake which can be baked up to 3 weeks in advance, frozen and thawed before decorating.

Some tips from The Cheesecake Bible to help you make perfect cheesecake:

• To prevent cracking: Bring all ingredients to room temperature before using. Incorporate eggs one at a time. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Remove the cheesecake from the oven while the center still jiggles. If the center does split or crack, cover it with a decorative topping. The cheesecake will still taste wonderful.

• Oven temperature and Rack Check: Always preheat the oven and place the rack in the center of the oven. Perfect cheesecake requires accurate oven temperatures. Check your oven temperature for accuracy against an oven thermometer. To do this, preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C) for 15 minutes. Place an independent oven thermometer inside for a few minutes, then take a reading. If it indicates that the oven is above or below 350 F (180 C), either recalibrate the oven or rely on the thermometer and adjust your control setting until 350 F (180 C) is attained. It is not difficult to recalibrate an oven. If your owner’s manual does not have instructions, contact a repairperson.

• To prevent overbaking and dryness: Remove the cheesecake from the oven while the center still jiggles. A firm center in a hot cheesecake means it is overcooked.

• Freezing cheesecake: Wrapped properly to be airtight, in plastic wrap and an outer covering of foil, cheesecake suffers no less of texture for up to three months in the freezer. Let it thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before serving. Decorate and refrigerate two hours before serving.

If you love cheesecake, The Cheesecake Bible definitely deserves a place on your cookbook shelf – or why not buy it for someone and let them bake one for you? This wonderful book is guaranteed to become food-stained and well used. Here are some scrumptious cheesecakes that are guaranteed to make your guests say “cheese-cake, please!” Let the calories begin!

Norene Gilletz is a cookbook author, cooking teacher and food consultant based in Toronto, Canada. Her latest book is NORENE’S HEALTHY KITCHEN: Eat YOUR Way to Good Health (Whitecap). For information about her cookbooks, cooking demonstrations and culinary services, call 416-226-2466 or visit her website at http://www.gourmania.com