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Posts Tagged ‘Cheesecake’

About New York Cheesecake

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

Cheesecake is one of the most common and popular desserts in the world today. It is also one of the oldest made from a dairy product other than milk. Cheesecakes can be made of ricotta cheese, havarti, quark, or more usually, cream cheese. Other ingredients such as sugar, eggs, cream and fruit are often mixed in, too. This is the reason why there are so many types of cheesecakes because the number of recipes you can come up with are virtually unlimited. New York cheesecake is cheesecake that is as pure as it gets with no fancy ingredients added either to the cheesecake or placed on top of it. It is made with pure cream cheese, cream, eggs, and sugar. Everybody has his or her own ideas and visions of New York Style Cheesecake. If you ask New Yorkers, only the great cheesecake makers are located in New York, and the only people who really know what a good cheesecake is are also in New York.

In the 1900s, cheesecakes were all the rage in New York. Every restaurant had their special recipe. The actual name “New York Cheesecake” came from the fact that New Yorkers referred to the cheesecakes made in New York as “New York Cheesecake.” If you’re a New Yorker, your motto is that “If it’s not a cheesecake made in New York, then it’s not a cheesecake.” There are probably many who will disagree with that. In 1929, a gentleman by the name of Arnold Reuben, owner of the legendary Turf Restaurant at 49th and Broadway in New York City, claimed that his family developed the first cream -cheese cake recipe. While there is no actual proof that this is true, nobody has stepped forward as of yet to refute that claim. All the other bakeries used cottage cheese. The legend of cream cheese cake goes something like this.

Reuben was served a cheese pie in a private home and he just fell in love with the dessert. He used the recipe for the pie and some ingredients that he provided and began to work on his own recipe for the perfect cream cheese cake. In time, he began to serve this cake at his restaurant at 49th and Broadway. In no time this cheesecake became popular with everyone who went to his restaurant and eventually word of this wonderful dessert spread all over New York. Well, at least that’s what the legend says. But how is it that we were even able to make a cake out of cream cheese? Well, to answer that question you have to go back to the year 1872. American dairymen made an amazing breakthrough that brought about the Modern Age of cheesecakes. In attempting to duplicate the popular Neufchatel cheese of France, they came up with a formula for an un-ripened cheese that was even richer and creamier. They decided on the name, cream cheese. The method for producing cream cheese was actually discovered by William Lawrence of Chester, New York.

It wasn’t until 1880 however, that the biggest manufacturer of cream cheese ever, Kraft, got into the business of producing what was called Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese for a distributor in New York by the name of Reynolds. In 1912, James Kraft came up with a method to pasteurize cream cheese and soon after that other manufacturers began to make dairy products with this new kind of cream cheese, including cheesecake. Wherever the New York cheesecake recipe came from, and whatever person or family we have to thank for it, it has become a landmark on our culinary landscape and one of the cornerstones of what we now call American cuisine.