The best original New York style cheesecake is the perfectly divine dessert for any occasion. So light and creamy with plenty of bright lemon flavor.
Cheesecake is, perhaps surprisingly, one of the oldest surviving dishes in the world. The Ancient Greeks ate cheesecake, most likely made with goats’ cheese, prior even to the genesis of the Roman Empire. Cato the Elder, a Roman senator who lived around 200 BC, wrote cheesecake recipes intended for religious use. The enormous reach of the Romans and Greeks might be to blame, then, for cheesecake’s worldwide popularity and endless regional variations. Italians tend to use ricotta for their cheesecakes, while Germans opt for quark, a cottage cheese-like dairy product consumed throughout Germanic Europe. The invention of cream cheese in 1872 heralded the arrival of what is now a classic: New York style cheesecake.
New York style cheesecake generally uses cream cheese, although some cooks prefer sour cream, particularly if they freeze their cheesecake overnight. Any reasonably heavy cheese will do for this purpose, as long as it is resilient to freezing and will keep its shape when kept cool. In the most indulgent of New York delis and diners, New York style cheesecake is even served with a mixture of sour cream and vanilla extract as a topping, a lavish addition that will be sure to make your cake stand out from the crowd.
If you really want to perfect New York style cheesecake, there are two factors you must keep in constant consideration. Texturally, the cheesecake should be light without being crumbly – this will depend a lot on your choice of crust. The filling needs to be creamy, but not too dense, as New York style cheesecake isn’t intended to be as filling as other variations. The cream cheese should be the dominant flavor on the palate, and you definitely don’t want your cheesecake to be too sweet. It should have a slightly savory character to it – not overly sweet, but not salty or chalky, either – that is rich and never overpowering.
For toppings, you can really go wild with anything you like, although of course it is traditional to serve your cheesecake as is. Americans love to add toppings with fruit, particularly those with a bit of sharpness to their flavor. Raspberries and passion fruit are great for this, as the intermingling sweetness and tangy assault complement the cream cheese nicely. Pineapple-based toppings are common in more tropical regions, although you would be hard pressed to find a pineapple cheesecake in a real New York diner.
Always bake your cheesecake in a water bath, to keep the heat in the oven from drying out, and to help your cake bake slowly and evenly. The other benefit of a water bath is that your New York style cheesecake won’t crack or dry out on top, leaving you with a smooth, attractive cake bound to invite gasps and watering mouths around the table. For maximum authenticity, serve with piping hot coffee, served black, and always cut your cheesecake with a smooth-bladed knife to prevent the cheese from tearing or breaking in chunks against a serrated edge. If you find yourself with leftovers, you can even freeze your cheesecake for up to a month and find it perfectly edible.
NEW YORK STYLE CHEESECAKE RECIPEPrint