A rich & creamy love affair

The biggest contenders in the game of cheesecake reveal their sweetest secrets

A vegan alternative to traditional cheesecake, offered at The Sleepless Goat, is just as tasty without using animal by-products.
A vegan alternative to traditional cheesecake, offered at The Sleepless Goat, is just as tasty without using animal by-products.

Picture this: a rich and creamy cake filling with graham cracker crust drizzled with sweet and succulent cherries and finished off with a dollop of whipped cream. Is your mouth watering yet?

For all the cheesecake lovers in the world, here’s the history of how one of the most desired desserts made its entrance into the world.

The first appearance of cheesecake dates back to 776 BC and was served to athletes at the very first Olympic games by a man named Stephen Valli, who wrote about the cake in his farming manual De Agri Cultura. The dessert’s staple ingredient—cheese—varies from recipe to recipe. When the cake was first made, it used Swiss Neufchatel cheese. It wasn’t until 1872 when American dairy workers accidentally made what we know today as Philadelphia cream cheese while attempting to make Swiss Neufchatel cheese.

Today, we can be grateful for this slip, because cream cheese not only tastes great on bagels, but makes most cheesecake recipes, especially New York cheesecake, taste as fabulous as they do.

The Cheesecake Factory is a restaurant associated with some of the tastiest and most flavourful varieties of cheesecake in the world.

Although there are no franchises in Canada yet, The Cheesecake Factory is the ninth largest restaurant chain in the U.S. with 123 locations spread over most metropolitan areas.

It started in Detroit in 1971 when Oscar and Evelyn Overton wanted to open a business. Little did they know it would become the huge empire that it is today with over 50 varieties of Evelyn’s original recipe cheesecake. In 1978, they opened the first restaurant in Beverly Hills, California.

According to their website, “there is truly something for everyone” with flavours ranging from White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle to Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake to Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake.

Jessica Conkling, a guest services manager at The Cheesecake Factory in Boston said via e-mail that the wide variety of cakes they offer can be attributed to the restaurant’s success.

“Our fresh ingredients and creative flare in our cheesecakes have a tremendous impact,” she said. “We always see familiar guests coming back for more.”

The Cheesecake Factory website even allows avid cheesecake lovers to sample the succulent taste each month with their “Cheesecakes by the Month” program. Members pay $23.95 a month for a seven-inch cake to be delivered to their door all year round.

Closer to home is Kingston’s very own Pan Chancho Bakery and Café, located on 44 Princess St. For years, Pan Chancho has been serving some of the most exquisite baked goods and unique dishes to satisfy everyone’s taste buds.

Their chocolate swirl cheesecake—one of many flavours they offer—is one of my personal favourites.

When I used to watch my grandmother bake cheesecake, she always used to tell me not to dance on the kitchen floor because the cake would crack. When I began baking cheesecakes on my own, I realized that it’s a common problem when they cool and is usually a result of the coagulation of beaten eggs.

Philippe Guiet, the technical director at Le Cordon Bleu, a culinary art institute in Ottawa, has been baking cheesecakes for over thirty years, said that it’s essential to use the most pure ingredients for a rich-tasting cheesecake.

“It’s also important that you don’t over mix the ingredients,” he said. “To avoid cracking, the cheesecake should be cooked at a lower temperature in a bain marie, or a hot water bath.”

Alternatively, a pinch of cornstarch can also prevent this problem.

Although these baking tips might not have been known way back in 2,000 BC when cheesecake was first discovered, we can thank the Romans for bringing the recipe from Rome to Europe and then to North America—and can only wonder if their cheesecakes tasted anywhere near as good as the ones we enjoy today.

Cheesecakes of Kingston

You don’t just have to go to New York City to find great cheesecake. Here are some of the best spots in Kingston to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Pan Chancho Bakery and Café
44 Princess St.

With new flavours every day—including classic New York cheesecake and chocolate swirl—and pure ingredients, you can guarantee that each bite will be heavenly.

Limestone Garden Market and Grill
175 Bagot St.

Their mile-high New York cheesecake served with a choice of cherry, blueberry or cherry topping is absolutely decadent. It’s so big, you might need to share it with a friend.

The Sleepless Goat
91 Princess Street

Offering a number of vegan cheesecakes, the Goat allows you to have your cake and love the earth, too. Add some fair trade coffee to the deal, and you’ve got yourself a socially just dessert date.

Common Ground

If you want to enjoy great cheesecake in between classes, the Common Ground is the perfect place to stop in for coffee, cake and a chat with friends.

33 Brock St.

Although the price of a slice is a little steep, the delectable taste, ambiance and the view of Kingston’s market square is well worth it.

424 Princess St.

Who ever thought blackberries and blood oranges could taste so good? Gusto’s blackberry and blood orange cheesecake is an original flavour that everyone should try.

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