According to the email I received from Chefs.com this morning, cheesecake was served by the Greeks to Olympic athletes in 776 B.C. I can only imagine what that tasted like.
Cheesecake has not always been my favorite dessert. When I was growing up, my grandfather would bring home cheesecake from a Polish bakery in Hamtramck, where he worked. That style of cheesecake tends to be dry. Most recipes for Polish cheesecake call for cottage cheese. That explains a lot.
On the other side of my family, the Italian side, we never had cheesecake. But a few years ago I made a recipe from Giada deLaurentis. Made with ricotta cheese, it is exquisite. Oh, and some cream cheese was also there.
I guess everyone is most familiar with New York Style Cheesecake. Cream cheese, eggs, whipping cream. Decadent. Delicious. And of course, fattening.
I had a pastry class where the Chef was making cheesecake. One of the students was a real pain in the you-know-what. What can you substitute for butter? Do you really need to use real eggs? I wondered 'why she was in a pastry class?' Anyway, she asked the Chef if there was a way to make the cheesecake with less calories. He told her to eat half a slice!
A few years ago I decided to enter the Pillsbury Bake-Off contest. To do so, you are given a list of ingredients to choose from and must use a certain number of them. I came up with a recipe for an apricot almond cheese tart (below). Of course, you have to try this recipe a few times before you get it right and someone has to eat all that cheese. Pity.
Since that time, I have come across another easier recipe that does not have eggs in it and does not have to be baked except for the crust. It is a great 'go to' recipe in a pinch. That recipe also follows.
So, in honor of National Cheesecake Day, go bake a cheesecake. Or at least go someplace and have a slice. Probably a safer alternative.