Cheesecake is the purist's dessert, simple and elemental. But it also requires a sleight of hand in which an unassuming ingredient magically blossoms into an elegant, almost sculptural study of texture and flavor. Most often, cream cheese is that ingredient. Mixed with sugar, vanilla, and eggs, then baked, it creates an irresistible result that is technically as close to a custard as it is to a cake.
But for cheesecake's admirers, it has much more appeal than either. Waiting to be sliced, it seems to whisper promises of delicate tang and sweetness. You might wonder how it will taste, how it will feel in the mouth. Softly yielding? Lusciously thick? Light, like mousse? The temptation will quickly prove too great: Resistance crumbles, you grab a spoon, and the cheesecake completes its seduction.
Getting Flawless Results
To avoid cracks in a finished baked cheesecake, start with the ingredients at room temperature; don't overmix the eggs, and don't overbake. Before unmolding, run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake. If the top does crack, consider concealing imperfections with fresh fruit or a berry or chocolate sauce.
Marbling cheesecake is an easy way to elicit oohs and ahs. This one and its miniature siblings have a raspberry puree swirled in. To marble, drop dollops of fruit puree onto the unbaked cake with a teaspoon, then use a wooden skewer or toothpick to tease out tendrils of sauce across the surface.
These cheesecakes, once set, can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to three days. Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.
Try our Raspberry-Swirl Cheesecake.