Cream cheese cheesecake is a sweet, rich dessert that can be served alone or topped with whipped cream, fruit, or chocolate. This type of cheesecake is usually made with a graham cracker crust, and additional ingredients can be incorporated to further flavor the dessert. A variety of cheeses can be used for cheesecake, but cream cheese cheesecake is the most popular type served in North America. There are a number of different recipes for cheesecake, with some requiring baking while others are no-bake varieties that call for the cake to be chilled.
When making a cream cheese cheesecake, the dessert may be baked or chilled depending on the recipe. The main ingredients in both types are generally cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract. Baked cheesecakes usually also include flour and eggs, while a no-bake cheesecake does not.
A cheesecake usually has a crust to hold the cream cheese filling. The most common type of crust is a graham cracker crust, which is made by mixing finely crushed graham crackers with melted butter and pressing it into a cake pan. Crusts can also be made from pastry, or crushed cookies or shortbread.
Baking a cheesecake usually takes about an hour. A water bath is often used to prevent the surface of the cheesecake from cracking during baking. Before topping or eating a baked cheesecake, it requires time to cool. A baked cheesecake is usually firm in texture, while still retaining the creaminess of the cheese.
A no-bake cheesecake is typically made by combining softened cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and heavy whipping cream. For best results the heavy cream is usually whipped separately from the other ingredients, until stiff peaks form, and is then folded into the cream cheese mixture. This is then poured into a pan with a graham cracker, or other crushed cookie, crust. A no-bake variety of cheesecake may require anywhere from one hour to several hours of refrigeration before it is fully set and ready to serve. This type of cheesecake is softer and creamier than its baked counterpart.
A cream cheese cheesecake can be made in many different flavors. Ingredients such as fruit, candy, or chocolate can be combined with the cream cheese mixture before baking or chilling. Another option is adding different flavors to a topping for the dessert. Sweetened whipped cream is often served atop cream cheese cheesecake, and many different fruits pair well with it. Fresh fruit may be simply placed on top, while a fruit puree or even canned fruit pie filling can be spooned over the cake. Chocolate can also easily enhance a cheesecake if a cook drizzles melted chocolate or chocolate syrup over the dessert before serving.