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How to Make Flawless Cheesecakes

Decadent, luxurious, thoroughly satisfying...cheesecake is one of those desserts that gets an ooh or an ahh from the crowd at very first sight. There are few treats that feel so tempting...and wrong but so right! But we digress. Here are some techniques you need to know if you want to achieve the perfect cheesecake.

Martha Stewart Living, May 2004

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.


Cheesecakes are notorious for developing cracks on the surface. Most cracks can be prevented if you simply remember to avoid over-beating and over-baking the batter, but if you're really serious about preserving your cheesecake's appearance, you can take a few additional steps to achieve that smooth, pristine surface. For one, make sure everything is room temperature so everyting incorporates evenly. Cake batter really helps keep the cheesecake together but the sugar helps separate the flour to prevent lumpy puckets. The finaly trick is to knock the cake before baking to get rid of bubbles. If you haven't figured this out yet, the key is to make sure the cheesecake is as dense as possible.


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. The one in this video 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. That makes cheesecake a perfect dish to bring to a picnic of a potluck. If you are serving it immediately, let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.


But are you more of a classic cheesecake kind of person? Or would you prefer something more along the lines of a Triple Chocolate Cheesecake or a Citrus-and-Spice Cheesecake? Perhaps you'd enjoy something seasonal, like a Pumpkin Cheesecake or a Red, White, and Blueberry Cheesecake? Or, maybe you prefer making individual cheesecake cupcakes? Whatever style you prefer, you can try all our Cheesecake Recipes here!

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