Friday, September 25, 2009
If you love cheesecake, then you're going to love the cookbook that we're reviewing today! If you don't like cheesecake (what planet are you from?!) you might want to make better use of your time than reading this blog today. (Non-cheesecake-lovers please rejoin us for Monday's menu plan.)
Our cookbook today is The Joy of Cheesecake by Dana Bovbjerg and Jeremy Iggers and was published in 1980 by Barron's. The ISBN is 0-8120-4278-6. To give us a clear picture of the passion these two male authors have for cheesecake, they start the book with a sensual description of the attributes of a good cheesecake and why so many people love this particular dessert.
To further substantiate the importance of cheesecake's place in the history of food, they give the recipe for cheesecake that belonged to Cato, a Roman soldier and statesman. Cheesecake was already popular in ancient Greece, so when they were conquered by Rome, the cheesecake recipe fell into enemy hands. As Rome broadened her conquests, the cheesecake was introduced to Great Britain and Western Europe. In Russia, cheesecake became part of the Easter tradition. As we later tried to duplicate the Neufchatel cheese of France, American dairymen came up with cream cheese; a revolutionary dessert discovery that ushered in the new age of cheese cakes! (I found this type of history much more captivating than the history of war, European royalty, or the development of the automobile; after all, there was so much at stake here!)
The very-focused guys who wrote this book have collected cheesecake recipes from all over the world. There is Kilimanjaro Cheesecake that requires beating the egg whites into soft peaks before folding them into the cheese mixture; Blue-Bottom Pie, which is a cheesecake with blueberries in the bottom crust; Cider Cheesecake made with apple cider ("a fall favorite that tastes like apple pie with a slice of cheese"); Snow White cheesecake which uses only egg whites, a pound of cream cheese and sour cream to make a totally white cake (it suggests substituting a cup of well-drained vanilla or coffee yogurt for the sour cream to give it a delicious, mysterious flavor.) I could go on and on; there are so many unique and wonderful-looking cheesecakes in this book. My son, Blake, suggested that I start by making the first recipe and then work my way through the book! That's a great idea, except that we would have to have all of the doorways widened in our house. Cheesecake can only be an occasional indulgence around here because nobody in our crew ever turns down a piece of homemade cheesecake.
Finally, I want to say that I appreciate the authors going to the trouble of covering individual ingredients that are most often required for cheesecake, and how important quality is. They also give practical tips on preparation methods for baking and cooling which are crucial to a cook who is attempting a first cheesecake (cheesecakes need to be cooled very slowly to room temperature so they don't crack.)
It was difficult to choose one recipe to sample, but I went with this Frozen Cheesecake on page 133. This recipe is courtesy of Lee Fidge of Detroit. It's a cross between ice cream and cheese cake, it keeps "practically forever" in the freezer. Once frozen, the authors suggest keeping it covered with plastic wrap.
P. 133 Frozen Cheesecake
Basic graham cracker crust in a spring form pan
1 C (1/2 lb.) cottage cheese
1/2 lb. cream cheese
1 C granulated sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 C heavy cream
- Place the cottage cheese in a sieve and drain.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cottage cheese and the cream cheese.
Add the sugar and blend until smooth and light.
- Add the egg yolks, salt, and vanilla and blend thoroughly.
- Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then gently fold them into the cream cheese mixture.
- Whip the cream until it is stiff and fold into the batter.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared crust. Place the cake in the freezer for 4 hours, or until frozen solid. Serve frozen.
I will be at these blogs today: