Who can resist a cheesecake? A buttery, crunchy base and dense, creamy filling topped with tangy fruit. Here are some of the best homemade cheesecake recipes for you to try.
Cheesecake has been around a lot longer than you might think; it actually originated in ancient Greece, on the island of Samos. However, it bore little resemblance to the dessert we know and love today. It was made from simple ingredients like honey, flour, wheat and cheese, formed into a cake and baked.
Some Facts About Cheesecake
- Cheesecake was considered a high energy food and was likely to have been served to athletes in the first Olympic games, held in 776 B.C
- Greek brides and grooms would serve cheesecake to guests at their wedding. You could say it was the first wedding cake
- The first ever recipe for cheesecake was written by Athenaeus, a Greek writer, in 23 A.D – 2,000 years after the first cheesecake was made
- When the Romans conquered Greece, they modified the recipe for cheesecake by adding crushed cheese and eggs. The cake was then baked under a hot brick
- King Henry the Eighth’s personal chef created a cheesecake recipe for the king using butter, milk and eggs as well as cheese
- The famous New York cheesecake was created by the sandwich maker Arnold Reuben after he was served cheesecake at a dinner party he attended in the city
- New York cheesecake gets its legendary smooth texture from extra egg yolks added to the cream cheese mixture
Our modern-day cheesecake is eaten all over the world and every country has its own recipe. You can get savoury cheesecakes but the sweet version remains the most popular, using cream cheese as the main ingredient. In Italy, they use ricotta; the Germans use cottage cheese and in Japan they have a preference for cornflour and egg whites, making a lighter dessert.
Here are a few recipes for cheesecake that you can try out for yourself.
Basic Cheesecake Recipe
This is the easiest cheesecake recipe ever. No baking, no complicated decorations or toppings, just cream cheese, sugar and cream on a buttery biscuit base. Of course, if you want to decorate it please feel free. Serves 8.
250g digestive biscuits, roughly broken up into pieces
600g soft cheese, such as Philadelphia
284 ml pot double cream
100g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (not essence)
For this recipe, you will need a 23cm loose-bottomed non-stick cake tin. The loose base enables the cheesecake to be removed easily from the tin when you’re ready to serve it. Line the base with a circle of non-stick baking paper.
Put the biscuits into a strong plastic bag, knot the top of the bag securely and bash with a rolling pin or another solid object until the biscuits have been reduced to crumbs. Melt the butter in the microwave in 20-second bursts until liquid. Mix the butter with the biscuits until evenly combined.
Tip the biscuit mixture into the prepared tin and press down firmly with the back of a spoon. Try to get an even layer but if it’s not perfectly level then don’t worry. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
In a large bowl, put the cream cheese, cream, vanilla extract and icing sugar. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon or with an electric hand mixer until you have a thick, smooth mixture. Spoon the cream cheese topping onto the biscuit base, levelling it out with a spoon or a palette knife. Cover the tin with cling film and place it in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours to firm up.
To remove the cheesecake from the tin, place it on top of a can then carefully push on the edges of the tin, moving it downwards. The rim will drop down, leaving the cheesecake on the base. Slide it onto a serving plate using a spatula to gently push the cheesecake off the base and remove the metal base by gripping the edge of the baking paper and pulling in the opposite direction.
Serve in generous slices, accompanied by some fresh berries and a nice cup of tea or coffee.
Mascarpone and Lime Cheesecake
This is quite different from the basic recipe above; the digestive biscuits are replaced with ginger snaps and the cream cheese with mascarpone, a soft, slightly sweet cream cheese from Italy. The flavours of lime and ginger go very well together. Serves 8 – 10.
200g ginger snap biscuits, broken into pieces
100g butter, melted
500g mascarpone, at room temperature
50 ml double cream
40g icing sugar
Zest and juice of 2 limes
Crush the biscuits to a fine crumb and mix with the melted butter. (See method above.) Line a 23cm loose-bottomed tin with a circle of baking paper and spoon the crumb mixture into the tin, levelling it out with the back of a spoon. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Put the mascarpone, cream and icing sugar into a large bowl. Whisk for a few minutes until smooth and creamy.
To remove the zest from the limes, use the fine grater side of a box grater, being careful to only take off the green zest and none of the white pith underneath. Or you can use a hand-held tool called a zester, which will only remove the zest, leaving the pith behind. (The pith has a very bitter taste and you don’t want that in your cheesecake.) Cut the limes in half and use your hands or a lemon squeezer to get the juice out. Add the zest and juice to the whisked cream mixture.
Remove the cheesecake base from the fridge, spoon the filling over it and smooth out with a palette knife. Cover with cling film and chill for a minimum of 2 hours.
Remove the clingfilm and transfer the cheesecake to a serving plate. You can decorate the cheesecake with some sprigs of fresh mint before serving, or a slice of fresh lime.
Fresh Raspberry Cheesecake
This is a lovely, summery cheesecake. It does need gelatine for it to set properly but you can use the vegetarian version if you want. Serves 8 – 10.
225g digestive biscuits
450g cream cheese, such as Philadelphia
50g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
1 sachet powdered gelatine or a vegetarian alternative such as Agar-Agar
225g fresh raspberries
150 ml double cream
60 ml water
Line a 20cm loose-bottomed tin with a circle of baking paper. Put the biscuits into a strong plastic bag and break up with a rolling pin until crushed to fine crumbs.
Melt the butter in the microwave in 20-second bursts until liquid. Mix together the biscuit crumbs and melted butter and press into the base of the tin, using the back of a spoon. Get it as even as you can but it doesn’t have to be perfect. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Put the cream cheese, sugar, egg yolks and three quarters of the raspberries in a bowl and beat until smooth with a wooden spoon. Whip the cream until it’s at the ‘floppy’ stage; to test if it’s thick enough, switch off the whisk and lift the beaters out of the cream. It should leave behind a soft peak that will stand up by itself for a few seconds.
Fold the cream into the cream cheese mixture and set aside.
Sprinkle the gelatine over the water in a heatproof bowl and leave until it’s taken on a spongy consistency. Place the bowl of gelatine in a pan of hot water and stir over a low heat until the gelatine has dissolved. Leave to cool slightly then stir into the cheese mixture.
Pour the mixture onto the biscuit base, level off with a palette knife and cover with cling film. Leave in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours to set, but overnight is better.
To serve, remove the cling film, take the cheesecake out of the tin and transfer it to a serving plate. Pile the remaining raspberries in the centre of the cheesecake. Sprinkle with a little icing sugar before serving.
This is a very simple, no-bake cheesecake but it tastes as if you’ve spent hours making it! Mascarpone is a soft, slightly sweet Italian cheese with a flavour and texture similar to clotted cream. Serves 8.
200g dark chocolate digestive biscuits
100g butter, melted
200g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids, broken into pieces
About 4 tablespoons of icing sugar
Brandy or rum to taste (about 2 – 3 tablespoons)
50g dark chocolate, melted, to finish
Crush the biscuits in a strong plastic bag, using a rolling pin. Stir in the melted butter and press into the base of a 23cm loose-bottomed tin, lined with a circle of baking paper.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave in 30-second bursts. Allow to cool slightly then beat in the mascarpone, icing sugar and brandy or rum. Spoon the chocolate mixture on top of the biscuit base, smooth with a palette knife and cover with cling film. Chill in the fridge for about 2 hours.
Remove the cheesecake from the tin and transfer it to a serving plate.
Melt the 50g of dark chocolate and use a spoon to drizzle it over the top of the cheesecake. Serve with strawberries.
Blueberry and Lemon Baked Cheesecake
This is a rather different cheesecake from the previous recipes; it’s baked in the oven then cooled overnight. The texture is similar to a New York cheesecake but not quite as rich. Blueberry and lemon are a lovely flavour combination. Serves 8.
150g digestive biscuits
50g butter, melted
200 ml creme fraiche
2 egg yolks, beaten
100g caster sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour
Grated zest of a large lemon
Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/190C/375F. Crush the biscuits and mix with the melted butter. Press into the base of a 20cm loose-bottomed tin lined with a circle of baking paper. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Using an electric whisk, beat together the mascarpone, creme fraiche, egg yolks, caster sugar and cornflour until evenly blended. Gently stir in the lemon zest and spread over the biscuit base, levelling the top with a palette knife.
Place the tin on a baking sheet and cook for about 40 minutes, until the top has turned a light golden brown. It will still look a bit wobbly but don’t worry – it will set as it cools. To avoid the top of the cheesecake cracking, leave it in the oven with the door ajar overnight.
When completely cooled, place the cheesecake in the fridge for a couple of hours, or preferably overnight. Remove from the tin and serve dusted with some icing sugar. Decorate the top with the blueberries and serve some extra berries on the side. Nice with some chilled pouring cream.
New York Cheesecake
This is as close to the genuine article as you can get without having to travel to New York. Rich and creamy and so satisfying. For best results, the ingredients should all be at room temperature. Serves 12.
85g of butter
150g digestive biscuits, crushed into coarse crumbs
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
900g Philadelphia, or other full-fat soft cheese
250g caster sugar
3 tablespoons plain flour
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of a lemon
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 large eggs + 1 yolk
284 ml soured cream + 142 ml
1 tablespoon caster sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Preheat the oven to gas 4/180C/350F. Line the base of a 23cm springform tin with baking paper. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, then add the crushed biscuits and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Mix thoroughly.
Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and press down firmly with the back of a spoon. Bake for 10 minutes then leave it to cool completely.
Put the soft cheese into a bowl and beat well for 2 minutes, preferably with a hand-held electric mixer. Keeping the mixer on, gradually add 250g of sugar, the flour and a pinch of salt. Make sure the mixture is well blended before adding the lemon zest and juice and vanilla extract. The eggs should be added one at a time, beating well between each addition.
Stir in 200 ml of the 284 ml pot of soured cream. Whisk so that it’s blended in but not too much. You should have a light, smooth mixture.
Brush the sides of the tin with some melted butter and sit the tin on a baking sheet. Pour the filling in carefully, ensuring the top is nice and smooth. Increase the oven temperature to gas 7/220C/425F and bake the cheesecake for 10 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to gas mark a quarter/110C/225F and bake for another 40 – 45 minutes. Gently shake the tin and if the middle looks slightly wobbly, it’s done. Turn off the oven and open the door then leave it like that for 2 hours. If the top of the cheesecake cracks, that’s normal so don’t worry.
Mix together the 84 ml of soured cream with the 142 ml carton. Add a tablespoon of sugar and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Mix well and spread over the top of the cooled cheesecake. Cover with foil and put it in the fridge for a minimum of 8 hours.
Unclip the side of the tin and slide the cheesecake out by gripping the edge of the baking paper and the base of the tin and pulling gently but firmly as you slide the cheesecake onto a serving plate.
I hope that you try some of these delicious cheesecakes and that you love them as much as I do. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
For more ideas on desserts see this article on how to make yummy desserts
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