The Gourmet Touch: Cheesecake by any other name is still delicious
by Prudence Hilburn
The Gourmet Touch
Apr 17, 2013 | 2411 views |  0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The person who created the wonderful dessert known as cheesecake deserves a statue in his or her honor. These were the thoughts of the late cookbook author and food professional James Beard.

And I agree.

No doubt about it, nothing soothes the yearning for a rich dessert quite like cheesecake. Of course, this is not the treat for anyone on a low-calorie, low-fat diet. That is, unless you are one of those die-hard cheesecake addicts who is willing to fall off the wagon every now and then to get a taste of this fantastic creation.

The main ingredient in most cheesecakes is cream cheese. I’m so thankful that we can just go to the supermarket and pick up this ingredient. This was not always the case.

In the 18th century, a Mrs. Glasse (no first name given) wanted to include cheesecake in her cookbook, “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy.” In order to do so, she had to make her own cream cheese. That fact alone does away with the “easy” part.

Her instructions state, “Take a pint of cream, warm it, and put to it five quarts of milk warm from the cow, then put runnet to it and just give it a stir; and when it is come, put the curd in a linen bag; let it drain well away from the whey but do not squeeze it much. Then put it to your mortar and pound as fine as butter.”

Ready to make cream cheese? I didn’t think so.

If you’re not ready to tackle making a cheesecake either, but would like the flavor of cheesecake in another dessert, you might want to try the following quick and easy cheesecake dessert squares. When making these squares, be sure to check the number of ounces in the box of cake mix. Some manufacturers have begun reducing the ounces and it will make a difference in some older recipes such as this one. If you do wind up with a box that has only 15.25 ounces, I think it would be best to reduce the amount of butter to ⅓ cup rather than ½ cup.

For those who like to experiment in the kitchen, this is a good recipe to use. Made with orange cake mix, these bars would probably taste a little like an Orange Julius or a Creamsicle. I think these squares would also be good made with chocolate cake mix. For this one (and maybe the orange one too), you might try a little coconut in the cheesecake layer.

Cheesecake in any form, whether rich and elegant or as simple as these squares, is sure to be a hit with dessert lovers.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Squares

1 box (18.25 ounces) red velvet cake mix
½ cup butter or margarine, softened at room temperature
2 eggs, divided
1 cup chopped pecans, divided
1 box (16 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
8-ounce tub of cheesecake-flavored cream cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and lightly flour a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Combine cake mix, butter, 1 egg and a ½ cup of the pecans in a large bowl. Beat until mixture clings together. Remove from bowl and press onto the bottom of baking pan. Combine confectioners’ sugar, cream cheese and remaining egg. Beat until smooth. Pour on top of the bottom layer. Sprinkle with remaining pecans.

Bake for about 35 minutes or until lightly browned and cheesecake layer has firmed slightly.

Cool completely before cutting into squares.

NOTE: If cheesecake-flavored cream cheese is not available, you can substitute plain cream cheese. Also, do not use reduced-fat margarine.

Email Prudence Hilburn at prudencehilburn463@att.net.
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