Cheesecake was definitely made in ancient Greece and was said to have been given to Olympian athletes. Alan Davidson, author of the Oxford Companion to Food, wrote, "cheesecake was mentioned in Marcus Porcius Cato's De re Rustica around 200 BCE and that Cato described making his cheese libum (cake) with results very similar to modern cheesecake." From What's Cooking America: here's his recipe for libum, often given as a temple offering:
Libum to be made as follows: 2 pounds cheese well crushed in a mortar; when it is well crushed, add in 1 pound bread-wheat flour or, if you want it to be lighter, just 1/2 a pound, to be mixed with the cheese. Add one egg and mix all together well. Make a loaf of this, with the leaves under it, and cook slowly in a hot fire under a brick.
Cheesecakes can use many different cheeses from cream cheese, the most popular, to neufchatel, to cottage cheese to marscapone. What's really amazing are the infinite varieties of cheesecakes. From New York to Pennsylvania Dutch to Lactose Free, you can make a different type of every day for years. If you're so inclined :-) Read more about cheesecake.
Here's a Round-up of Cheesecakes you can make today to celebrate!
Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake
White Chocolate Cheesecake
Bailey's Irish Cream Cheesecake
New recipe today is for Double Chocolate Cheesecake. I first tasted this when Laura-Kate Rurka, aspiring mystery author and major baker and foodie, brought this fabulous cheesecake to one of the literary salons I hold at my home. I remember the cheesecake but not the author who spoke. Priorities? I had to have the recipe, and Laura-Kate complied. Surprisingly she said it wasn't her recipe, but was from Epicurious. However, she adapted it in several ways and made it her own, so I think of it as her recipe. She adapted the recipe by using Medaglia D'Oro espresso powder instead of instant coffee. She also used Guittard Couverture Disks. Although she used to use Valrhona, she said, "I got lazy about chopping all that chocolate. Anyway, I love those guys at Guittard and they're local." Totally agree. I've now made this Double Chocolate Cheesecake using several different types and brands of chocolate. It's an easy and fabulous recipe, just give yourself lots of time for the actual baking and setting. I especially like using both cream cheese and sourcream in my cheesecakes, so I appreciate this recipe. Celebrate National Cheesecake Day today!
DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE
1 9-ounce box chocolate wafer cookies
6 tablespoons sweet butter, melted
1 1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon instant coffee powder (or espresso granules/it will be more intense)
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (experiment with different chocolate)*
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons Madegascar vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1/2 cup whipping cream
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 350°F. Wrap outside of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with double thickness of foil. Spray bottom of pan with vegetable oil spray. Finely grind cookies in processor. Add butter and process until blended. Press mixture onto bottom (not sides) of prepared pan. Refrigerate while preparing filling.
Combine cream and coffee powder in medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until coffee powder dissolves. Reduce heat to low. Add chocolate; whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Cool 10 minutes.
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until well blended. Beat in cornstarch. Add sour cream and vanilla; beat well. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Whisk 1 cup cheese mixture into chocolate mixture. Return chocolate mixture to remaining cheese mixture; whisk until smooth.
Pour batter into crust. Place springform pan in large baking pan. Add enough hot water to baking pan to cone halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake cheesecake until softly set and slightly puffed around edges, about 1 hour. Turn off oven. Let cake stand in oven 45 minutes. Transfer springform pan to rack and cool. Cover; chill cake overnight.
Bring cream to boil in heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat. Add 4 ounces chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Pour glaze over top of cake. Using spatula, smooth glaze evenly over top. Refrigerate until glaze is set, at least 2 hours. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Using knife, cut around sides of pan to loosen cake. Remove pan sides. Cut into wedges and serve.