NEW! Google Custom Search

Loading

Cheesecake Density Dilemma

Meryl's picture

WHAT can be done to make a cheesecake more dense and firm? I want it creamy, but as someone on eGullet described, not as if I'm eating sweetened cream cheese. It seems many people are trying to solve this dilemma. How to achieve a creaminess that's not overly creamy, mixed with a slightly drier cakey texture. I remember in the good old days when I lived in NYC, I experienced that exact texture at the Carnegie Deli. Their ultra-high NY Cheesecakes were superb.


Paula Wolfert said she thinks if you drain the cheese for a day or two you would get that dense texture. Do you agree?


I've also heard that using all whole eggs instead of yolks, might make a difference because of the drying effect of the whites. The NY Cheesecake recipe I use has 5 whole eggs and just 2 yolks, so I'm wondering how much effect, if any, only 2 yolks would have as opposed to using two whole eggs instead? Or perhaps replacing the 2 yolks with just the whites?  What do you think?


The other specifics in the NY Cheesecake recipe I use, are: 40 oz cream cheese, 1/4 cup sour cream, 3 Tbsp flour, 1 3/4 cups sugar, 1 tsp each lemon and orange zest, 3/4 tsp vanilla. It's baked at 500 F for 10 minutes to brown the top, then at 200 F for close to 2 hours, ie, until the top is set 3 inches from the edges. I don't use a waterbath, but just set a shallow pan of water under the rack where the cheesecake is sitting. (I've also made it without the pan of water - texture was basically the same, except there was a crack). I've noticed a slighter firmer texture after chilling it for 48 hours as opposed to 24, but no difference in the 48  as opposed to 72 hours.


    



Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces. --Judith Viorst


Edited 10/8/2004 5:55 pm ET by Meryl

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

JoanneB17's picture

(post #63275, reply #132 of 156)

I'm not a cheesecake maker (made one in my life) although I like it, so didn't visit this discussion today. But I'd like to say: this kind of discussion is what makes this forum so great, along with the smaller conversations...! Maybe it could be T&T as a GREAT CHEESECAKE RECIPES And What Makes Them Different (unlike CI's THIS IS THE BEST CHEESECAKE).

APonKP's picture

(post #63275, reply #133 of 156)

this kind of discussion is what makes this forum so great, along with the smaller conversations...! Maybe it could be T&T as a GREAT CHEESECAKE RECIPES And What Makes Them Different (unlike CI's THIS IS THE BEST CHEESECAKE).

I agree, Jo, I love these types of discussions.  I always learn so much. 

And yes, that would be a good approach for T&T.  Variety is the best spice, and there's no way just one could be the best.  Phooey on CI.


Tonight I am reading numerous cheesecake recipes in different cookbooks, and just as I would have guessed, each cookbook author has his/her own opinion about what is best, as well as the best way to achieve it.  Emily Luchetti says to not use Philadelphia Cream Cheese, but to use "natural" without additives in order to achieve a light texture.  Anne Willan says for the American favorite style, use only the ordinary packaged kind.  Jim Dodge said bake it in a water bath, and on and on.  Maida Heatter has one that is the original Longchamps cheesecake, and I definitely want to try that. 

Tonight I made one with 1 lb. fresh Bellweather Farms ricotta, 5 oz. real Greek yogurt, lemon rind, 2 whole eggs, less than only 1/2 cup of sugar, pinch of salt, 2 T. cornstarch, 1 t. vanilla.  Tomorrow we will try it.  I don't expect it to be exactly like the German one I loved, or the NY one we are trying to create, but I had the ricotta and love a Northern Italian ricotta variety also.  I do wish I had made it in the FP instead of the Kitchen Aid to smooth out the ricotta completely, and then maybe it would be more like the German style.  This is fattening fun.


One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.  A.A. Milne
One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.  A.A. Milne
Biscuits's picture

(post #63275, reply #134 of 156)

That's one of the reasons I've stayed out of this conversation.  Cheesecake is like brownies - there are dozens of versions, and there's someone who thinks each version is "the best".  Everyone has their favorite.


Personally, I like the sweet, custard-y, cream-cheese, creamy kind as opposed to the cakey type, sso my version always has the addition of extra eggs and cream to it.  I will say that IF I can get my hands on farmers or homemade cream cheese (the West Side Market usually has it) I think it makes a HUGE difference over Philadelphia, but - Philly will do in a pinch.


And - just so I'm not left out (G) - I still think that MY pumpkin cheesecake is the ULTIMATE pumpkin cheesecake, so there! (lol)


Life is tough - but it's tougher when you're stupid - Major Jeffrey F. Richardson, USMC

Ancora Imparo -

ehBeth's picture

(post #63275, reply #136 of 156)

If anyone is making pumpkin cheesecake - and can get Peek Frean's - try the ginger or cinnamon crisp cookies (crushed) as the base.  Paradise.

If you can't play a sport, be one.

If you can't play a sport, be one.
APonKP's picture

(post #63275, reply #138 of 156)

Of course you know that you must now post your recipe for pumpkin cheesecake.  Unless you already have, that is.  : )


One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.  A.A. Milne

One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.  A.A. Milne
Biscuits's picture

(post #63275, reply #139 of 156)

Here it is.  I had to go spelunking in the archives for it. 


My husband loves this cheesecake - it's his favorite, so he requests it every holiday. I have to admit, it's the best one I've ever eaten. I can't take all the credit, though. Its a modification of one that I found in an old issue of Gourmet.

Pumpkin Cheesecake 


One 10-inch round cheesecake

Crust:



3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs (or gingersnap crumbs)
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped pecans

  • 1/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

    Mix all ingredients together and press firmly into the bottom of a 10" springform pan. Chill.

  • Filling:



    • 1 1/2 c. pumpkin puree

    • 3 lg. eggs

    • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

    • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (makes a big difference)

    • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger

    • 1/2 tsp. salt

    • 1/2 c. firmly packed light brown sugar

    • three 8-oz. packages cream cheese, room temperature

    • 1/2 c. granulated sugar

    • 3 tbl. heavy cream

    • 1 tbl. cornstarch

    • 1 tsp. vanilla

    • 3 tbl. bourbon

      Whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, spices and brown sugar.

      In a mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese and granulated sugar on low speed until combined, soft and creamy in texture. Add the cream, cornstarch, vanilla and bourbon. Mix on low speed just until combined then add the pumpkin mixture and mix until combined.

      Pour into the crust and bake at 350 degrees in a water bath for about 50-55 minutes, or until set. Cool on a rack, then cover and chill several hours or overnight.

      Garnish with whipped cream and candied pecan halves.

      Freezes for several months beautifully.

    ***********


    Please note:  this isn't "NY style" at all.  This is creamy and more custardy than that, which is how I like cheesecake.

     


    Life is tough - but it's tougher when you're stupid - Major Jeffrey F. Richardson, USMC

    Ancora Imparo -

    APonKP's picture

    (post #63275, reply #140 of 156)

    WOW!  That was fast!  Thanks so much.  It does look good.  And I need to find uses for the cinnamon I ordered from Penzeys.  I got carried away with all the medicinal talk about it and ordered 6 oz.  That turned out to be a lot of cinnamon for a family who hardly ever eats it! 

    I used ground hazelnuts in the crust of the ricotta one I made.  Love nuts in a cheesecake crust.  Pecans will make it taste like the holidays.  If I have company for Thanksgiving (a good posibility),  it would make an easy make-ahead dessert.


    One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.  A.A. Milne

    One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.  A.A. Milne
    Wolvie's picture

    (post #63275, reply #135 of 156)

    Mer - I am sorry to have missed this post - I left thursday for the fest -ivities.


    FWIW, I didn't use a crust at all, and I baked them in a regular size muffin pan.


    Times for these are approximate. I think the first batch was 450 for 8, then 205 for about 10. They were good, but a bit too dry. Second batch 450 for 6, then 205 for about 15, these were my favs.


    I was looking for that slight jiggle which is, (for me) as I found out, difficult to see in a muffin pan. :-)


    At any rate - hope all went well!


    I'm going to experiment with these again in mini muffin size. I think that might actually be a better way to go. That or those cheesecake "pops" I saw in one of the cooking mags not long ago.


     



    "People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history."


    George W. Bush


    "Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, 'Something is out of tune."  Carl Jung

     

    MER02's picture

    (post #63275, reply #142 of 156)

    Don't worry at all. I knew I was asking at the last minute. I ended up doing mini brownies instead as I had to have some for a party and didn't want to experiment around. I might have a chance to do them this coming weekend. You do use muffin liners right?

    Wolvie's picture

    (post #63275, reply #143 of 156)

    yes. easier to serve that way - sort of pick your own.


    I saw mention of some mini cheesecakes on epicurious, I'll see what they have to say.


    (have you seen the new look there? Eeek! )



    "People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history."


    George W. Bush


    "Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, 'Something is out of tune."  Carl Jung

     

    MER02's picture

    (post #63275, reply #144 of 156)

    good. Haven't been there in years maybe. Don't have enough time to keep up with this site and its my favorite.

    i will try to make the minis this weekend and will report back. Thanks!

    MEANCHEF's picture

    (post #63275, reply #145 of 156)

    Just a helpful hint:  Doing a test of different cheesecakes as minis will likely not be very satisfying.  At work I often make mini cakes in the mini muffin tins with the same batter I use for regular sized cakes.  They do not come out the same.

    CookiM0nster's picture

    (post #63275, reply #146 of 156)

    Agreed.

    MER02's picture

    (post #63275, reply #147 of 156)

    oh! good advice. thanks Mean and CM.

    Meryl's picture

    (post #63275, reply #148 of 156)

    CM, I did my first NY Cheesecake test last night, using a foil divider between two different batters - it was pretty precarious, because the batters slipped underneath to the other side a little, but luckily most of each batter stayed on its own side. I think I'd prefer to do each cake in its own pan in the future - maybe use smaller pans. Anyway, it's still cooling in the oven (started baking way too late). Once it's cooled, I'll be chilling it at least 24 hours, maybe 48. Will keep you posted! 



    Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces. --Judith Viorst

    There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

    Meryl's picture

    (post #63275, reply #149 of 156)

    Hey, CM and all you other CT cheesecake lovers, the results of my tests are in! They were, unfortunately, disappointing as far as recreating the "real" NY Cheesecake is concerned. But I'm left with some damn delicious cheesecake anyway!


    I used my tweaked Gourmet recipe, which is my favorite "NY" Cheesecake, and made two batters, both halved. The first batter was exactly how I always make the cheesecake, the second one had about 2 2/3 the amount of flour and no egg yolk, just 3 eggs (would have been 6 eggs if the cheesecake were the original full size instead of 5 eggs and 2 yolks).  


    I baked the cheesecakes until the centers were completely set, not jiggly as I usually do, then I left the pan in the oven with the door slightly ajar until cooled. (I usually remove the pan from the oven, run a knife along the sides, then cool on a rack. The cooling time in the oven took 8 hours instead of the usual 4 hours). One definite negative in cooling in the oven was there was lots of melted butter on the sheet pan which the cake pan was sitting on. (The crust has 5 Tbsp butter, 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs and 1 Tbsp sugar). This has never happened any other time when I've removed it from the oven to cool on a rack. So I was concerned the crust would be too soft and it was.


    I tasted the two cakes a few minutes ago and I definitely prefer the taste of the original. The one where I added extra flour and no yolk was flat-tasting, which lived up to my prior reservations. It lacked the roundness and tang and "bite" of the original. It's as if the zests and sour cream weren't even there. Texture-wise, the extra flour and no yolk did basically nothing as far as making it "drier." So, the taste was compromised and gained nothing texturally.


    In conclusion, neither of the cakes were significantly "drier" or "cakier" than the original, (just ever so slightly drier), so the extra time cooling in the oven was not worth it. Plus, the crust suffered. It's usually nice and hard - this time it was soft.


    That's it for now. I hope more of you try some tests of your own. Right now I'm on cheesecake-overload, so I'm taking a break for awhile!



    Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces. --Judith Viorst


    Edited 11/2/2004 12:01 am ET by Meryl

    There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

    Wolvie's picture

    (post #63275, reply #150 of 156)

    wow. I've never had the butter problem, but then I've never used 5 tbsps of it, either.


    So sorry the time thing didn't work.


    Better luck after the overload clears! :-)


     



    "People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history."


    George W. Bush


    "Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, 'Something is out of tune."  Carl Jung

     

    Meryl's picture

    (post #63275, reply #151 of 156)

    Thanks!


    Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces. --Judith Viorst

    There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

    CookiM0nster's picture

    (post #63275, reply #152 of 156)

    What temperatures and times did you use?

    Meryl's picture

    (post #63275, reply #153 of 156)

    The usual - 500 F for 10-12 minutes (until lightly browned) and then 200 F (for about 2 hours).


    Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces. --Judith Viorst

    There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

    CookiM0nster's picture

    (post #63275, reply #154 of 156)

    Thanks. I've made notes for my next try. I promise to report back. Lucky for me DH has an unlimited capacity to eat cheesecake.

    Meryl's picture

    (post #63275, reply #155 of 156)

    Send him over! I have lots.


    Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces. --Judith Viorst

    There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

    CookiM0nster's picture

    (post #63275, reply #156 of 156)

    LOL!

    Meryl's picture

    (post #63275, reply #119 of 156)

    "If the Carnegie Deli recipe is doubled, it is essentially the Wolvie and Meryl/Gourmet recipes except the sugar is right in between the two at 1 1/2 c."


    Duh, now why didn't I realize that?! Although, the "real" Carnegie Cheesecakes I had at the deli were even deeper/higher.


    I'm glad you're joining in with us for the "big" experiment! The Neufchatel idea was another variable I was going to try, which Pamela Anderson had mentioned, although in a negative sense - imagine that! Sounds like it worked out well!


    "Result. Delicious! Dry and dense yet smooth and just sweet enough.  The reduced sugar and longer time already were discussed.  Lowering the fat with Neufchatel and no additional yolk helped make it drier.  Still not the real NY cheesecake however, although it’s been years since I’ve had one." 


    Can you describe how the texture of your cheesecake differed from the real NY Cheesecake, or has it been too long for you to remember exactly???


    Next I might try subbing some farmers or pot cheese and maybe milk for the heavy cream."


    How much farmers cheese do you think you'll be using in place of the Neufchatel?



    Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces. --Judith Viorst

    There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

    MadMom's picture

    (post #63275, reply #120 of 156)

    I just want to know how many cheesecakes we get to sample at Tracyfest.  LOL

    Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse.
    Lily Tomlin

    Meryl's picture

    (post #63275, reply #122 of 156)

    Not fair, not fair, I won't be there! But if I were coming to the Fest, I would definitely bring you guys some of my cheesecake! Oh well....maybe another time, another place, assuming my money situation improves. Right now it sucks. 


    Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces. --Judith Viorst

    There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

    evelyn's picture

    (post #63275, reply #116 of 156)

    what about leaving the cheesecakes in the turned off oven for a couple of hours after 'just set centre' has been achieved?  The dissipating heat will continue to cook/dry them, but without the threat of added browning?  Just a thought.

     

    In life, learn the rules so that you know how to break them properly.
    Wolvie's picture

    (post #63275, reply #118 of 156)

    hmmm - I do that, per Craig Claiborne's instructions in NY Times cookbook. He says to let it cool completely in the oven, the put in fridge.  I've never thought to post that.


    Another interesting thing.


    In the end, I suspect that as long as it all tastes good, it's all a good thing. :-)



    "People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history."


    George W. Bush


    "Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, 'Something is out of tune."  Carl Jung

     

    Meryl's picture

    (post #63275, reply #121 of 156)

    "hmmm - I do that, per Craig Claiborne's instructions in NY Times cookbook. He says to let it cool completely in the oven, the put in fridge.  I've never thought to post that."


    That could make the WHOLE difference! BTW, do you leave the oven door slightly ajar or closed?


    Also, regarding Lindy's vs. Carnegie - I do believe Lindy's was the first, but I never got to try theirs. Carnegie was my first! 



    Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces. --Judith Viorst


    Edited 10/20/2004 5:20 pm ET by Meryl

    There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

    Wolvie's picture

    (post #63275, reply #128 of 156)

    slightly ajar.


    I'm not sure it will account for all of it, but probably a bit. That, and a bit less sugar - the 1 1/2 cups suggested by RJMR.


    good luck!



    "People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history."


    George W. Bush


    "Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, 'Something is out of tune."  Carl Jung