Professional Secrets For Creating Mouthwatering Cheesecake

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Dense and rich, light and fluffy or silky smooth, cheesecake is one of America's favorite desserts. Because the basic recipe can have so many variations, the chef who bakes this self-indulgent treat can get as creative as s/he wants. Plain cheesecake is the perfect canvas for developing elegant desserts that send your taste buds soaring.

However, as some culinary school graduates and professional chefs will tell you, there are definite dos and don'ts to making mouthwatering cheesecake. Let's find out one of the most failsafe methods taught in cooking schools for creating this to-die-for dessert.

Most Popular Ingredients

Since 1872, we've enjoyed cream cheese. Made from cream and cow's milk, this dense, smooth, unripened cheese was designed to be rich and spreadable. Culinary school students can quickly learn that cream cheese is the most popular ingredient in cheesecake. It is not, however, the only foundational ingredient. Many recipes include ricotta cheese or cottage cheese in place of or in addition to cream cheese. It's the flavor and consistency of cream cheese that make it the overwhelming first choice by those who make and those who consume cheesecake.

The most frequently found variety of cheesecake seen in restaurants is plain cheesecake topped with fruit or sauce. This allows the chef to create one type of cheesecake yet still offer options to guests by varying the toppings. Strawberries, blueberries and chocolate sauce are by far the three most popular.

Preventing Lumpy Batter

When you think of culinary excellence, a city that often comes to mind is Miami. Culinary school graduates who enter the workforce in this food-oriented town quickly find there are certain professional secrets to making cheesecake that is as smooth as glass. Lumpy batter is to be avoided at all costs.

The biggest contributor to lumpy batter is moisture. When too much moisture collects in your filling, it tends to bind ingredients together, causing lumps. To alleviate this, add ingredients separately and blend well in between each addition.

Start with room temperature cream cheese and blend it in a mixer until it is creamy and smooth. Add eggs one at a time then allow time for each egg to incorporate fully into the batter before adding the next. This rule applies to all liquids including cream or liquid or semi-liquid fillings such as pumpkin, chocolate or caramel sauce; bananas; amaretto; lemon or lime juice; etc. Lastly, some cooking school instructors will recommend scraping the mixing bowl frequently as a final measure to preventing lumps.

Avoiding Cracks

A cracked surface to cheesecake is not only unattractive, but it can also signify that your cheesecake is going to be dry. Too much air added too quickly, too much moisture and too high an oven temperature are the three primary reasons cheesecakes crack.

When too much air is incorporated into the batter too quickly (usually from setting your mixer on medium-high or high), it gets trapped within the moisture. Once the cheesecake begins to bake, the moisture is released and rises to the surface. As the air expands in the heat of the oven, it usually causes a cracked surface.

Tapping the bottom of your filled pan on the countertop is a good way to release some of the air from within the batter. It will not release all the air, however.

To counteract excess moisture and air, blend your batter on low or medium-low speed. Also, even if your recipe doesn't call for it, add one to two tablespoonfuls of flour. Lastly, bake your cheesecakes in a water bath. Fill the exterior pan until hot water reaches halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan. This helps keep moisture on the outside of the cheesecake (rather than the inside) and also regulates the temperature of the oven, so it doesn't get too hot.

The next time you want to impress your family or guests, use these tips to create a cheesecake that delivers a beautiful presentation as well as luscious taste!

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About The Author, Mike C
Mike Churchill provides online marketing support for Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Miami. Cooking school applications are currently being accepted. If you love cooking and are in Miami, culinary school could be your next step. Visit us at http://www.miamiculinary.com.